News / Arts & Entertainment

Former Child Star Shirley Temple Dies at 85

Shirley Temple Dies at 85i
X
February 11, 2014
Shirley Temple Black, the former child star known as America's Sweetheart, has died in California at the age of 85. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles on the life of the childhood superstar who later served her country as a diplomat.

VIDEO: Bright-eyed, dimpled child movie star who lifted America's spirits during the Great Depression and later became a US diplomat, passed away peacefully at her California home

TEXT SIZE - +
Alex Villarreal
Shirley Temple Black, who lifted America's spirits as a bright-eyed, dimpled child movie star during the Great Depression and later became a U.S. diplomat, died late on Monday evening at the age of 85, a family spokeswoman said in a statement.
 
Temple Black, who lured millions to the movies in the 1930s, “peacefully passed away” at her California home from natural causes at 10:57 p.m. local time (0657 GMT), surrounded by her family and caregivers, the statement said on Tuesday.
 
“We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and most importantly as our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and adored wife of fifty-five years,” the statement said.

  • Shirley Temple is shown in an undated photo.
  • Shirley Temple poses during the filming of the movie "The Blue Bird."
  • Shirley Temple and animal actor Big Buck feed Heidi, a seven week old fawn.
  • Shirley Temple pictured in 1946.
  • Shirley Temple Black, shown shaking hands of supporters for her candidacy for Congress, shown in 1967 in California.
  • Shirley Temple Black, a U.S. delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, is shown before a press conference at the U.N. on Sept.16, 1969.
  • Shirley Temple Black accepts the Screen Actors Guild Awards life achievement award at the 12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, in Los Angeles, Jan. 29, 2006.

Boasting a dimpled smile, bouncy curls and seemingly boundless happiness, Shirley Temple helped audiences escape with songs and dances that stressed optimism in a complicated world.

"I loved everything, I loved the bumps and the falls and the hard times, but it was just the greatest life," she said.

Shirley Jane Temple was discovered at age three by a talent scout who noticed her in dancing school and cast her in a series of short films.  

Her natural ease onscreen led to her first feature film for Fox Studios, Stand Up and Cheer. The studio did everything they could to maintain her innocence.

"Winfield Sheehan who was head of Fox Studio when I was little, told my mother that I should not go to the commissary at the studio because I would no longer be a little girl, I would become a little adult," she recalled. "So he had a little bungalow built for me.  There were rabbits and chickens and roosters that drove the writers next door crazy, and a swing.  And that is where I had my lunch every day and had my studies."

Shirley Temple Black

  • Born April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California
  • Enrolled at Meglin Dance Studio in Los Angeles at 3 years old

  • Cast in 'Baby Burlesques' short films
  • Received a special juvenile Oscar at the age of 6
  • Made more than 40 movies
  • Unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1967
  • Served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in 1969 and 1970
  • Served as ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia

     

Temple Black astounded her colleagues with her ability to learn intricate songs and dances.  She said her favorite dance partner was Bill Bojangles Robinson, one of Broadway's biggest stars.

"We had some kind of chemistry between us," she admitted. "We were the first interracial dancing couple on the screen.  In fact, in the deep south of our country, if we were touching hands or holding hands, that would be cut out of the films for the south.

Now, they show them complete.  But he was very sensitive, he was a good friend, he was funny, he treated me like a peer, one of his peers.  And to dance with him, all I had to do was to hold hands and listen and I learned to tap by listening to this wonderful man," she added.

By 1934, Shirley Temple was the most popular movie star in the country. And an industry was born. There were Shirley Temple dolls, dishes, dresses and lunch boxes. Celebrities visiting the studio often had their pictures taken with her. Some even became her friends, including Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of then-U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. 

She received a special Academy Award in 1935 for her "outstanding contribution to screen entertainment." 

Life after movies

Her child career came to an end at age 12. She tried a few roles as a teenager - including opposite future president Ronald Reagan in That Hagen Girl.

Temple was only 17 in 1945 when she married for the first time to John Agar, who would eventually appear with her in two movies. Their five-year marriage produced a daughter.

Temple retired from acting in 1949 at the age of 21.
 
In 1950 she wed Charles Black in a marriage that lasted until his death in 2005. She and Black had two children.
 
Black's interest in politics was sparked in the early '50s when her husband was called back into the Navy to work in Washington.
 
She did volunteer work for the Republican Party while attempting to make a comeback with two short-lived TV series, Shirley Temple's Storybook in 1959 and The Shirley Temple Theater a year later.
 
Seven years after that she ran unsuccessfully for Congress in California but stayed in politics, helping raise more than $2 million for Richard Nixon's re-election campaign.

Temple launched her second career as a diplomat in 1969, when President Richard Nixon appointed her to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations.
 
In 1974, President Gerald Ford named her Ambassador to Ghana, a job she said in her 1988 autobiography was the "best job of her life."

"It was a substantive job, I used everything I had ever learned in life in that job and the Ghanian people were very similar to we Americans," Temple Black said. "They are outgoing, they have a good sense of humor, and they are industrious.  And we just got along beautifully."

Temple Black also served as White House Chief of Protocol, and from 1989 -1992 was Ambassador to Czechoslovakia. 

As Ambassador she was soft-spoken and earnest, out to disprove concerns that her previous career made her a diplomatic lightweight.
 
“I have no trouble being taken seriously as a woman and a diplomat here,” Black said after her appointment as U.S. ambassador to Ghana in 1974. “My only problems have been with Americans who, in the beginning, refused to believe I had grown up since my movies.”
 
Sometimes the public found it hard to accept her in diplomatic roles. But in 1989 she pointed out her 20 years in public service were more than the 19 she spent in Hollywood.
 
In 1972, Black was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. She publicly discussed her surgery to educate women about the disease.

In 1998 Temple Black was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient, recognizing her as the most successful child entertainer of the 20th century.  And her movies live on.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

With over five million records sold worldwide, singer-songwriter MIKA is best known for his hit single “Grace Kelly.” MIKA joins "Border Crossings" to perform live and to talk with host Larry London about his latest CD “The Origin Of Love.”