Having forged successful careers first as a child actress and later on as a diplomat, Shirley Temple-Black has, indeed, lived a full life.
A statement released by the family of the Hollywood icon confirmed her death on Monday night, February 10, at her home in Woodside, California “from natural causes” while surrounded by members of her family and caregivers. “We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat,” they wrote, “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.” The Black family further stated that “funeral arrangements are pending, and will be private.” The former actress and diplomat is survived by her three children as well as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Little Shirley, known for her golden curls and adorable doll-like features, was born on April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California. Seeing her talent for dancing at an early age, her mother decided to enroll her in Meglin’s Dance School. Shirley started her acting career when she was three through a series of low-budgets films called “Baby Burlesks”, or which starred children in adult roles and satirized film, celebrities, and current events. Her first Hollywood feature was “Carolina,” which was released when she was six under Fox Film Corporation. From then on she would make a string of about 40 films during her entire career, including “Bright Eyes” (1934), “The Little Colonel” (1935), “Curly Top” (1935), “Wee Willie Winkie” (1937), and “Heidi” (1937).
However, as she grew older, Shirley found it difficult to land roles. She finally retired from the industry at age 21 in 1949 with “A Kiss for Corliss.” She would, however, be taking up hosting duties for the TV anthology series “Shirley Temple’s Storybook” (1958), in addition to guest appearances in other shows.
For her exemplary acting career and accomplishments, Shirley was bestowed various honors most notably the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Screen Actors Guild and the Kennedy Center Honors.
Shirley married twice during her lifetime, first to John Agar in 1945 and then to Charles Alden Black in 1950. Shirley had a daughter from her first marriage, named Linda, and two children from the other, Charles and Lori.
Shirley began her second career in public service in 1967, when she ran albeit unsuccessfully for a U.S. congressional seat. Two years later, then President Richard M. Nixon appointed her Representative to the 24th United Nations General Assembly. Shirley was appointed US Ambassador twice: first to Ghana from December 1974 until July 1976 by former President Gerald R. Ford, and to Czechoslovakia from August 1989 to July 1992 by then President George H. W. Bush. Shirley was also the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States, a post she held from July 1976 until January the following year.
Shirley made a difference in the lives of countless people, both as an actress and as a diplomat, an achievement that not too many people can claim to have done. Her death surely is a huge loss not only to the film industry, but to the world at large.
Information in this article were sourced from the official Shirley Temple website, Shirley Temple on Bio and on Wikipedia. More relevant details about her passing may be read on Reuters, CNN, and The New York Times.