Shirley Temple was the animal crackers in the U.S. soup during the difficult and dark Great Depression. Her curly locks, chubby cheeks and radiant dimples were a beacon of happiness to those who enjoyed her movies. She starred in popular films such as Little Princess, Bright Eyes, Heidi, Baby Take a Bow, and later, Honeymoon. Being a childhood star was not her only accomplishment for the U.S. As Ambassador to Ghana in 1974 and then to Czechoslovakia in 1989, she served her country during the breakdown of communism in Eastern Europe.
Temple died Monday night among her family, at the age of 85.
She was given the nickname “Little Miss Miracle” by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for raising morale during the Great Depression. The moniker came from one of her films, Little Miss Marker. It is also posited that Temple saved production company great 20th Century Fox from possible bankruptcy. She was the top box office draw from 1935 to 1938. After retiring from acting in her twenties, she married and became Shirley Temple Black. That was just the beginning of her stellar diplomatic career.
The Ghana Web paid their respects by describing Temple Black as her family did, as a salute for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor and diplomat. Temple’s family believed her best role was in being a wife, raising her children, and cherishing her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Temple’s husband, Charles Black, died just months before.
Temple was a consummate child actress, and earned a special juvenile Oscar in 1935. In 2006, the Screen Actor’s Guild presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award, to which she responded by saying, “I have one piece of advice for those of you who want to receive the lifetime achievement award. Start early.”
Shirley Temple was truly an inspirational actor and diplomat, carrying herself with dignity to the end. Temple knew when her acting career was supposed to end, and was able to transition to politics by running as a Republican candidate for Congress in 1967. Although she was not successful in her bid for office, she was assigned Ambassador to Ghana in the ’70s by President Ford.
Temple was the animal crackers in the U.S. soup because she stole the hearts of theater-goers during a particularly challenging time in U.S. history. With the depression in full swing, it was Temple who kept up the spirit of a nation. She played patriotic roles as well as traditional story roles, such as that of Heidi, based on the character created by Johanna Spyri.
Beyond the star-studded life Temple lived, she was even more impressed with her role as wife, mother and grandmother. As Temple reflected on her family life she said, “There’s nothing like real love. Nothing.” In an era when childhood actresses fresh out of the Disney club want to prove their lack of innocence, Temple never forgot her own. If only this country could be graced with more like her, who consider what they can do for their nation, rather than what they can get from fans.
The life and death of Shirley Temple Black can be recalled as a breath of fresh idyllic air, in that she gave of herself to the US and the world so generously. Temple was the best thing for the U.S. soup at the time – the animal crackers.
By Lisa M Pickering