Shirley produced portraits of family and friends in a variety of media; she also painted portraits on commission. One of her earliest successes was a portrait of her then-idol, the movie star Nelson Eddy, that she painted from photographs when she was 13. She cut school one day when Eddy was visiting Houston in order to wait for him in his hotel lobby and present him with the picture. “I’ll put it in my den,” he told her.

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