Shirley Temple, the beloved curly-haired former child star who warmed hearts around the world with her movies and television shows in the 1930s, is dead. According to her family and publicist, she died in her Woodside, Calif. residence of natural causes. She was 85.
Known to her family and friends as Shirley Temple Black, and professionally just as Shirley Temple, the beloved former child star was born in 1928 in Santa Monica, Calif., and started her film career at age three. She was primarily encouraged in her singing and acting career by her mother. In the 1930s, Temple was a huge star at 20th Century Fox – some say even saving it from going bankrupt with her hit movies. Before she even turned 10, she had starred in multiple movies, including Bright Eyes, The Littlest Rebel, Heidi, and Curly Top, and she received a Juvenile Academy Award for her film work in the early 1930s. Temple is now rated the eighteenth greatest female American screen legend of all time on the list by the American Film Institute.
The former child star took a break from show business in her teens, appearing in a few lesser known films, briefly signed a contract with MGM, and a couple other contracts in her teens, before announcing her retirement from the film industry altogether at age 22, in 1950. After her retirement, Temple threw herself into other activities, such as schooling, politics, and still acting occasionally when she would sometimes appear on television. In 1958, she returned to the screen for television, and subsequently made some other television appearances.
She was married to John Agar from 1945 to 1950. The two made two films together and had one child, Linda Susan Agar. After her divorce from Agar, Temple was re-married again in 1950 to Charles Alden Black, with whom she had two children, Charles Alden Black and Lori Alden Black. Temple and Black stayed married until his death.
In addition, she worked for several companies and organizations, including Walt Disney, often serving on their boards. Temple also became known for her involvement and activity in the Republican Party in California. In the 1960s, she ran for the United States Congress, but lost; however, in the 1970s Temple was appointed United States ambassador to the country of Ghana. Then, in the late 1980s, she was appointed United States ambassador to Czechoslovakia, and also was appointed to a few other political seats.
A undeniably beloved former child star, Shirley Temple left a lasting legacy in Hollywood with her films – warming hearts, and even arguably at one point saving a film studio from collapse. In 1960, a star was placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Temple for her work and success in the film and television industry. The American Center of Films for Children also awarded her the Life Achievement Award, and in addition, she also received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, among several other awards. Shirley Temple will always be remembered as the curly-haired little girl from the movies, brightening up the people’s days with her Hollywood films.
By Laura Clark