Birthday: April 23, 1928
Died At Age: 85
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Shirley Temple Black
Born in: Santa Monica, California
Famous as: Actress
political ideology: Republican
Spouse/Ex-: Charles Alden Black (1950–2005), John Agar (1945–1950)
father: George Francis Temple
mother: Gertrude Amelia Temple
siblings: George Francis Jr., John Stanley
children: Charles Alden Black Jr., Linda Susan Agar, Lori Black
Died on: February 10, 2014
U.S. State: California
City: Santa Monica, California
Film and television actress Shirley Temple Black was a much sought after child artist during her younger days. She had appeared in films like ‘Bright Eyes’, ‘Curly top’ and ‘Heidi’ as a small girl and had captured the world’s attention with her pretty face and childish charms. The cute-looking curly haired little girl became everyone’s darling and even had merchandise like dolls designed after her. She was also a fashion icon of sorts with mothers hurrying to buy dresses similar to the ones worn by Shirley for their own little girls. In addition to her beauty, she was also highly talented and had received a special Juvenile Academy Award for her contribution to cinema. However her early success could not transcend into a meaningful acting career later on forcing her to retire at the age of 22. Several years later she made a comeback to the show business as a television narrator. She also made her foray into politics and was made the United States Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. She also served as the Chief of Protocol of the United States—the first female to hold that post. A multi-faceted personality, she was on the boards of directors of several large corporations including the Bank of America and The Walt Disney Company.
Childhood & Early Life
She was born as the youngest child of Gertrude Amelia and George Francis Temple. Her father was a bank employee while her mother stayed home to manage the house. She had two brothers.
She loved to sing and dance from an early age and her mother encouraged her daughter’s interests and had her enrolled at Meglin’s Dance School when she was just three. Her fashion loving mother styled Shirley’s hair in ringlets.
Educational Pictures noticed the pretty little girl during a talent search at the dance school and signed her in 1932.
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Her initial assignments consisted of a series of one-reelers called ‘Baby Burlesks’ followed by two-reelers called ‘Frolics of Youth’ in which she played Mary Lou Rogers. She also modeled for breakfast cereals and other products during this time.
She made her feature film debut with a small role in the movie ‘Red-Haired Alibi’ in 1932.
In 1933 Educational Pictures went bankrupt and Temple signed with Fox Films in 1934. Her movie ‘Stand Up and Cheer!’ released the very same year became her breakthrough movie. The movie was a big hit and everyone loved the sweet and innocent little girl.
The year 1934 was a very busy one for the six year old. She appeared in several movies including ‘Bright Eyes’ in which she portrayed an orphaned child who is the centre of a fierce custody battle. This film was written specifically to showcase the child artist’s talents.
She played Elizabeth, a young orphan, in ‘Curly Top’ (1935). Her portrayal of a sweet but naughty and energetic child was well loved by the viewers. The movie was a big commercial hit.
The characters offered to her were often that of orphans living in miserable conditions, or a child who played a role in bringing together estranged lovers. Most of her films had a fairytale element in them depicting the triumph of good over evil.
She appeared in a number of films over the late 1930s which included films such as ‘Dimples’ (1936), ‘Heidi’ (1937), and ‘Little Miss Broadway’ (1938).
Her 1939 movie ‘The Little Princess’ was loosely based on the novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The film was a critical as well as commercial success. Shirley was by now 11 years and this film was her last one as a child artist.
It was believed that she would continue her success as a teenage actress, but this was not to happen. She acted in two movies in 1940, both of which were flops.
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Her parents wanted Shirley to concentrate on her studies and sent her to Westlake School for Girls when she was 12. After appearing in a series of films that did not do well at the box office, she retired from films in 1950.
She made a comeback to show business during the late 1950s and narrated an NBC television anthology series of fairy tale adaptations called ‘Shirley Temple’s Storybook’. She also acted in three of the 16 episodes of the series.
During the 1960s she became active in politics and was appointed the United States ambassador to Ghana (1974-76) by President Gerald Ford. She also served as the United States Ambassador to Czechoslovakia (1989-92).
She played a little girl, Marky, who is held as collateral by a group of gangsters in ‘Little Miss Marky’. The movie was based on a short story of the same name by Damon Runyon. The movie was very popular and has been remade several times.
In the movie ‘Bright Eyes’, she played an orphaned child, Shirley Blake. The movie focused on the relationship between Shirley, her godfather, and an elderly uncle. The film had been developed with specifically Temple in mind.
Awards & Achievements
She was awarded a special Juvenile Academy Award in 1935 for her contributions to cinema in the year 1934, especially ‘Little Miss Marker’ and ‘Bright Eyes’.
Personal Life & Legacy
She first got married when she was 17 to John Agar, an Army sergeant, in 1945. They had one daughter and divorced in 1950.
Her second marriage was to Charles Alden Black, a WWII United States Navy intelligence officer, in 1950. The couple had two children. They had a loving marriage that lasted for 54 years until Charles’s death in 2005.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1972 and had a successful recovery. After her treatment she became one of the first famous women to openly discuss about the disease through radio and television.
She breathed her last on Feb 10, 2014 at Woodside, California, due to Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Dolls modeled after this successful child star were a rage during her hey days.