When one thinks of child actors the usual names always pop up Annette Funicello, Jerry Mathers, Jackie Cooper, and the “Little Rascals”. But one name always tops that list Shirley Temple. This smiling little pixie danced, acted and sang her way into the hearts of audiences during the worst of times, the Great Depression. When laughter and feeling good were not an option Shirley Temple was able to bring smiles to the people’s faces even if it was for a little while. Songs like “The Good Ship Lollipop” and “Animal Crackers in My Soup” were on the lips of a whole movie going generation.
Shirley Jane Temple was born in Santa Monica California on April 23rd, 1928 to a loving family. Her mother Gertrude cherished her only daughter and the two became an unstoppable team in their drive for Shirley to break into the film industry. The rest is the stuff legends are made from. She made 43 feature films, 14 shorts and 25 story book movies. Her career spanned 30 years from 1931 to 1961 when she retired from the film industry.
In 1950, at the age of 21, she became engaged to Charles Alden Black, the 30-year-old assistant to the president of the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, who claimed he had never seen a Shirley Temple movie. She would be married to Charles Black for 55 years till his death in 2005.
Though her film career was over Mrs. Black spent all her free time fundraising for various causes. In 1960 she was president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society and co-founder of the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies.
Soon she became interested in politics and in 1967 she ran for Congress to fill a seat left vacant by the death of the Republican J. Arthur Younger. She was a backer of the Vietnam War in a time when most of the country wanted it to end. She lost to a more moderate Republican, Pete McCloskey, in the suburban 11th Congressional District south of San Francisco.
In 1969, President Nixon appointed her to the 24th session of the United Nations General Assembly. She made a name for herself by speaking out about those things dear to her. The aged, the plight of refugees and, first and foremost, environmental problems.
According to the NY TIMES..
“When she was appointed ambassador to Ghana in 1974, some career diplomats were outraged, but State Department officials later conceded that her performance was outstanding.”
Her duties as Chief of Protocol was to instruct new envoys what to expect and how to behave.
“We teach them how to get used to being called Ambassador and having Marines saluting. Then, on Day 3, we tell them what to do if they’re taken hostage.”
She held the post of Ambassador in Ghana till 1977.
According to Bio.com…
“Temple became the only person to date to achieve the rank of honorary U.S. Foreign Service officer. From 1989 to ’92, she entered into yet another public service role, this time as ambassador to Czechoslovakia.”
In December of 1998 Shirley Temple Black was finally recognized for her work as an actor. She received Kennedy Center Honors, held at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Then in 2005, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild.
Shirley Temple Black died of natural causes Monday February 10th at her home in Woodside California. She was 85. She is survived by a son, Charles and two daughters, Lori and Linda.
A statement released by the family said…
“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 for fifty-five years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black.”