America’s little sweetheart has passed away at the age of 85. Shirley Temple Black will be remembered by the world as THE embodiment of cuteness who left a glowing shine on cinema during one of America’s darkest eras. To say that we have lost an icon and a legend would be an understatement.
Shirley Jane Temple was born on April 23, 1928 and enjoyed three years before jumping into show business. The film Bright Eyes (1934) catapulted her to worldwide fame, ultimately resulting in the young actress winning a special Juvenile Academy Award in 1935 for her overall body of work in ’34. Throughout the mid-to-late thirties (a.k.a. The Great Depression) Temple reigned as America’s sweetheart in films like Curly Top, Wee Willie Winkie, Poor Little Rich Girl, Heidi – the list goes on – earning more from mass merchandising of her image than from actually starring in films.
However, the road into the 1940s (and adolescence) proved to be bumpy; Temple’s Technicolor debut, The Little Princess, was a hit, but many of her other films (Just Around the Corner, Susannah of the Mounties) showed a slump in her box office clout. Temple and Twentieth Century Fox finally parted ways in 1940, after a long, lucrative and successful contract.
Temple spent the 1940s alternating between private life and half-hearted comeback attempts – but she eventually admitted that acting was behind her, and retired from the business on December 16, 1950. That same year she divorced her first husband, John Agar, with whom she had one daughter, Linda, and married Charles Alden Black, whom she would remain with for fifty-four years (until his death in 2005) and produce two more children, Charles Alden Black, Jr., and Lori.
Though Temple would make television appearances – both as herself and in acting roles – all the way into the 21st century, she did so much more than just entertainment. Not only was she active in philanthropy, but also politics (a major figure in the ’60s and ’70s Republican Party and a UN General Assembly representative); healthcare (Temple’s very public battle with breast cancer was a milestone in itself); and business (board of directors for Walt Disney Company, Del Monte, Bank of America, United Nations Association, National Wildlife Association – again, the list goes on…). In 2006, she would win a SAG life achievement award for her contributions to cinema.
Shirley Temple Black passed away at her home in Woodside, CA, “surrounded by her family and caregivers.”
R.I.P. Shirley Temple Black – April 23, 1928 – February 10, 2014