Poor Little Rich Girl, advertised as The Poor Little Rich Girl, is a 1936 American musical film directed by Irving Cummings. The screenplay by Sam Hellman, Gladys Lehman, and Harry Tugend was based on stories by Eleanor Gates and Ralph Spence, and the 1917 Mary Pickford vehicle of the same name. The film focuses on a child (Temple) neglected by her rich and busy father. She meets two vaudeville performers and becomes a radio singing star. The film received a lukewarm critical reception from The New York Times.
Barbara Barry (Shirley Temple) is the young daughter of wealthy Richard Barry (Michael Whalen), a recently widowed soap manufacturer. Worried that his daughter is spending too much time alone and not with other children her age, her father decides to send Barbara to boarding school. At the train station, Barbara and her accompanying nanny are separated when the nanny Collins (Sara Haden), looking for her stolen handbag, is hit and killed by a car.
Barbara, left alone, wanders off and masquerades as an orphan. While wandering the streets, she encounters a friendly Italian street performer, Tony (Henry Armetta), the organ grinder. Barbara follows him home after his performance. She witnesses his many children run out to meet him at the door. Barbara lingers, lonely and sad. The kind and friendly family invite Barbara in. She has dinner with them, where she experiences eating spaghetti for the first time. After dinner, the mother puts her to bed with her own children.
She attracts the notice of two vaudeville performers, Jimmy Dolan (Jack Haley) and his wife, Jerry (Alice Faye), who put her in their radio act, posing as their daughter. With the help of advertising executive Margaret Allen (Gloria Stuart), the trio become an overnight success. Barry hears his daughter on the radio and the two are reunited. Subplots involve a romance between Barry and Allen, and a crook trying to kidnap Barbara.
- Shirley Temple as Barbara Barry, Richard Barry's daughter
- Michael Whalen as Richard Barry, a widower, Barbara's father, and a soap manufacturer
- Jack Haley as Jimmy Dolan, a vaudeville performer and Jerry's husband
- Alice Faye as Jerry Dolan, a vaudeville performer and Jimmy Dolan's wife
- Gloria Stuart as Margaret Allen, an advertising executive
- Claude Gillingwater, as Peck, Barry's competitor in soap manufacturing
- Sara Haden as Collins, a servant in the Barry home
- Jane Darwell as Woodward, a servant in the Barry home
- Arthur Hoyt as Percival Hooch, Peck's assistant
- Henry Armetta as Tony, the organ grinder
- Tony Martin as Radio Baritone Soloist (uncredited)
- Paul Stanton as George Hathaway
- Charles Coleman as Stebbins
- John Wray as Flagin
- Tyler Brooke as Dan Ward
- Mathilde Comont as Tony's Wife