Shirley Temple has died. She was more than the most famous child star in history. She was so big that she was credited by FDR with rallying the country through the Great Depression. The actress passed away Monday at her home in Woodside, CA, her family said, according to reports. She was 85. Born in 1928, Temple, a talented actress, singer and dancer, began her career at age 3 and in 1934 catapulted to international stardom with the David Butler-directed Bright Eyes. That movie featured the classic musical number “On The Good Ship Lollipop”. Among Temple’s many other top credits from the period were Curly Top, Little Miss Marker and Stand Up And Cheer. She was America’s top box-office draw from 1935-1938 and has been credited with helping save 20th Century Fox from bankruptcy during the Depression years.
“Today as the world mourns the loss of ‘America’s Little Darling,’ we remember not only one of the most prolific child stars to ever grace our screens, but also a woman whose achievements reached far beyond her Hollywood career,” Fox studio chief Jim Gianopulos said today. “Shirley Temple Black remains an integral part of Twentieth Century Fox’s heritage and the bronze sculpture of her that flanks the Shirley Temple Black Child Development Center on the Fox Lot serves as reminder of her enduring legacy and her ability to unite and entertain both young and old. She was an extraordinary talent and on behalf of all of us at Fox, I wish to extend our deepest sympathies to her family.”
Temple was given a special juvenile Academy Award in 1935 — at the age of 6. Later in her career, she starred with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy in The Bachelor And The Bobby-Soxer and in John Ford’s Fort Apache with John Wayne and Henry Fonda. But in 1950, at age 22, she retired from films. That same year, she married Charles Alden Black, with whom she would remain until his death in 2005. In 1958, she returned to the entertainment business with an NBC anthology series of fairy tale adaptations called Shirley Temple’s Storybook, which later became The Shirley Temple Show and ran until 1961. She continued to make guest appearances on television, and also became active in politics. In 1967, the Republican Temple unsuccessfully ran for Congress, but was later appointed as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. In the 1970s, she was the U.S. ambassador to Ghana and also became the U.S. Chief of Protocol. In the 1980s, she was ambassador to Czechoslovakia.
Among Temple’s awards for her contributions to film are the Kennedy Center Honors, National Board of Review and SAG life achievement prizes. Upon winning her SAG prize in 2006, she said, “I have one piece of advice for those of you who want to receive the lifetime achievement award. Start early.” In a statement provided to the AP, her family said today, “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.”