Shirley Temple Black (born Shirley Temple; April 23, 1928 – February 10, 2014) was an American film and television actress, singer and dancer, most famous as a child star in the 1930's. As an adult, she entered politics and became a diplomat, serving as United States Ambassador to Ghana and later to Czechoslovakia, and as Chief of Protocol of the United States.
Temple began her film career in 1932 at the age of three. In 1934, she found international fame in Bright Eyes, a feature film designed specifically for her talents. She received a special Juvenile Academy Award in February 1935 for her outstanding contribution as a juvenile performer to motion pictures during 1934, and film hits such as Curly Top and Heidi followed year after year during the mid-to-late 1930s. Licensed merchandise that capitalized on her wholesome image included dolls, dishes, and clothing. Her box office popularity waned as she reached adolescence, and she left the film industry in her teens. She appeared in a few films of varying quality in her mid-to-late teens, and retired completely from films in 1950 at the age of 22. She was the top box-office draw four years in a row (1935–38) in a Motion Picture Herald poll.
Temple returned to show business in 1958 with a two-season television anthology series of fairy tale adaptations. She made guest appearances on television shows in the early 1960s and filmed a sitcom pilot that was never released. She sat on the boards of corporations and organizations including The Walt Disney Company, Del Monte Foods, and the National Wildlife Federation. She began her diplomatic career in 1969, with an appointment to represent the United States at a session of the United Nations General Assembly. In 1988, she published her autobiography, Child Star.
Temple was the recipient of awards and honors including Kennedy Center Honors and a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. She ranks 18th on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest female American screen legends of all time.
Shirley Temple was born on April 23, 1928, in Santa Monica, California. She was the daughter of Gertrude Amelia Temple (née Krieger), a homemaker, and George Francis Temple, a bank employee. The family was of English, German, and Dutch ancestry. She had two brothers, George Francis, Jr. and John Stanley. Temple's mother encouraged her infant daughter's singing, dancing, and acting talents, and in September 1931 enrolled her in Meglin's Dance School in Los Angeles.
About this time, Temple's mother began styling her daughter's hair in ringlets similar to those of silent film star Mary Pickford.
Whilst at Meglin's she was spotted by Charles Lamont, a casting director for Educational Pictures. Although Shirley hid behind the piano whilst in the studio Lamont took a shine to her, inviting her to audition, and in 1932 signed her to a contract. Educational Pictures were about to launch their Baby Burlesks, series of short films satirizing recent film and political events, using pre-school children in every role. Because the children were dressed as adults and given mature dialogue the series was eventually seen as dated and exploitive.
Baby Burlesks was a series of one-reelers; another series of two-reelers called Frolics of Youth followed, with Temple playing Mary Lou Rogers, a youngster in a contemporary suburban family.
To underwrite production costs at Educational, Temple and her child co-stars modeled for breakfast cereals and other products. She was loaned to Tower Productions for a small role in her first feature film (Red-Haired Alibi) in 1932 and, in 1933, to Universal, Paramount, and Warner Bros. for various bit parts.
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Shirley Temple died of natural causes on February 10, 2014, at the age of 85. She was at her home in Woodside, California, surrounded by family and caregivers. She is survived by her three children, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Awards and honors
Temple was the recipient of many awards and honors including a special Juvenile Academy Award, the Life Achievement Award from the American Center of Films for Children, the National Board of Review Career Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors, and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. On September 11, 2002, a life-size bronze statue of the child Temple by sculptor Nijel Binns was erected on the Fox Studio lot.
On March 14, 1935, Temple left her footprints and handprints in the wet cement at the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. She was the Grand Marshal of the New Year's Day Rose Parade in Pasadena, California three times in 1939, 1989, and 1999.
On February 8, 1960, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her work in films.
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