On Feb. 10, the world lost one of the most beloved child actors of all time. Singer and performer Shirley Temple died of natural causes at the age of 85. As an aspiring actress and singer myself, I’m sad to see this iconic light go out. As a tribute to the 1930’s own Curly Top, I’m here to share with you her life.
Shirley Temple was born to Gertrude Amelia Temple and George Francis Temple in late April of 1928 in Santa Monica, Calif. The Temples always saw their little girl as a star. In Sept. 1931, Gertrude sent her talented daughter off to Meglin’s Dance School in Los Angeles where Charles Lamont, the casting director for Educational Pictures, found her. Impressed by Temple’s talent, Lamont tried to get the young Miss Temple to audition. In 1932, Shirley Temple was signed to Lamont’s company. Temple’s first feature film was Red-Haired Alibi (1932), but it was still a small role.
In 1933, Temple was cast in bit parts with major companies like Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros. Pictures. Educational Pictures declared bankrupt in ’33, so Temple signed on with Fox Film Corporation in 1934. Stand Up and Cheer! was Temple’s breakthrough film, and her charm got her promoted months before she was introduced to the world. She and her mother received considerable pay raises, and Temple was loaned to Paramount for Little Miss Marker.
Bright Eyes was released in December of 1934, and it was the first film written specifically for Shirley Temple. Temple’s song “On the Good Ship Lollipop” sold over 500,000 sheet music copies. Soon after Bright Eyes, Temple was awarded the first Juvenile Oscar for her work at Fox, and she later added her hand- and footprints to the walk at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
From 1934 through 1939, Shirley Temple lit up the silver screen, bringing joy to the hearts of many. In 1939, Temple was offered a role in MGM’s classic The Wizard of Oz, which her manager declined. The role was given to the charming and charismatic Judy Garland instead.
After a short decline in the early ‘40s, Temple retired so she could focus on school and her home life. In 1945, a 17-year-old Shirley Temple married her first husband, John Agar, an Army Air Corps sergeant. Not even a half-year later, Temple gave birth to her first child, Linda Susan. Temple and Agar flirted with acting a bit before splitting in 1950.
Temple didn’t wait long to move on from Agar. Eleven days after their divorce, she was married to Charles Alden Black, a WWII Navy officer and Silver Star recipient. The couple relocated to Washington D.C. when Black was recalled for the Korean War. Their son Charles Alden Black, Jr. was born in 1952 followed by his younger sister Lori two years later.
Life after Hollywood was focused mainly on politics. In the ‘70s, Temple Black unsuccessfully ran for office in California, only to be appointed United States Ambassador to Ghana in December of 1974. Temple Black was also put in charge of arranging President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration and inaugural ball, as she had been appointed the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States in 1976.
In 1973, Temple Black was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had the tumor removed with a radical mastectomy and was known as one of the first advocates of female strength and will when coping with cancer.
Shirley Temple Black died late at night on Feb. 10, 2014 in her home in Woodside, Calif., surrounded by her three children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren. She died of natural causes and fell asleep at peace.
Caption: “Photo: Dispatch.com”