Shirley Temple biography
Shirley Temple, born on April 23, 1928, in Santa Monica, California, was a leading child film actress during the Great Depression, starring in works like Bright Eyes and Captain January. Her rendition of the song “On a Good Ship Lollipop” became famous, and she earned a special Oscar. Temple took on some acting roles as an adult before entering politics, becoming a U.S. diplomat for the U.N.
Shirley Jane Temple was born to a banker and a housewife with two older children, on April 23, 1928, in Santa Monica, California. When Temple was just 3 years old, she landed a contract with Educational Pictures and made her acting debut in a string of low-budget movies dubbed "Baby Burlesques." Temple's mother capitalized on the toddler's natural flair for dancing by enrolling her in dance classes at the age of 3 1/2. Her father became her agent and financial adviser.
The exposure that "Baby Burlesques" afforded Temple led her to a contract with the Fox Film Corporation. When Temple was 6, she appeared in her first Hollywood feature film, Carolina. (When off set, she attended the Lakewood School for Girls.) With Fox, Temple made an additional eight films, including the smash hit Little Miss Marker. The young actress, singer and dancer with the bouncing golden corkscrew curls and infectious optimism proved an overnight sensation and a top earner for the studio.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called Temple "Little Miss Miracle" for raising the public's morale during times of economic hardship, even going so far as to say that, "as long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right." Temple's song-and-dance routine to the tune "On the Good Ship Lollipop" in 1934's Bright Eyes earned her a special Academy Award for "Outstanding Personality of 1934." By 1940, Temple had 43 films under her belt.
When Temple began to mature, her popularity with audiences waned. As an adolescent, she appeared in The Blue Bird (1940), which performed poorly at the box office. At 19, she co-starred as Susan Turner in The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. Although the film received critical praise, audiences struggled to accept that their "Little Miss Miracle" was growing up.
Following her 1948 appearance opposite John Wayne in Fort Apache, Temple found it increasingly difficult to land major roles. During the 1950s and early 1960s, she made scattered appearances on the small screen, but her career as a popular film star had ended at an earlier age than most entertainers' had begun.
Temple married actor John Agar Jr. in 1945. The marriage ended in divorce in 1949, but yielded one child, a daughter named Linda Susan. In 1950, Temple remarried to California businessman Charles Alden Black and add her husband's last name after hers, becoming Shirley Temple Black. The couple had two children: a son named Charles, and a daughter named Lori. Shirley and the elder Charles would remain married until his death from complications of a bone-marrow disease in 2005.
As Shirley Temple Black's entertainment work petered out, she refocused her efforts on a career in public service. In 1967 she ran for Congress but lost. From 1969 to 1970 she served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Temple Black was appointed ambassador to Ghana in 1974. Two years later, she became the chief of protocol of the United States, retaining the position until 1977.
In 1988 Temple Black became the only person thus far to achieve the rank of honorary Foreign Service officer of the United States. From 1989 to 1992 she served yet another public service role, as ambassador to Czechoslovakia.
In December of 1998, Shirley Temple Black's lifetime accomplishments were celebrated in the Kennedy Center Honors at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 2005 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild.