Shirley Temple Dead at 85: Remembering America’s Sweetheart

Published 1 year ago by

Shirley Temple Dead 85 Obituary  Shirley Temple Dead at 85: Remembering Americas Sweetheart

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. 

Shirley Temple in That Hagen Girl Shirley Temple Dead at 85: Remembering Americas Sweetheart

Ronald Reagan and Shirley Temple in ‘That Hagen Girl’ (1947)

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


Source: Deadline & BBC

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TAGS: Obituaries
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  1. You forgot “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer” (1947) where she played a supporting role with Cary Grant and Myma Loy.

    • I loved that movie when I found it. I still vividly remember watching her movies with my parents, good times…

      godspeed Shirley!

  2. A star during the time when movies were simple and innocent. A true star and Icon.

    • And yet behind the scenes, things were the same as they are today.

      Lets forget about that though because Shirley had a long, successful career and despite non-US film fans only knowing her as a former child star, can’t deny that the name “Shirley Temple” still evokes nostalgia and is still remembered and will be for a very long time to come.

      To think that she’s mainly known for less than a handful of movie roles yet still remembered alongside greats like Cary Grant, James Stewart and so many more of the era, shows just what kind of impact she made.

      RIP Shirley.

  3. Sad news…
    Even though I grew up during the 80′s, decades after Shirley Temple was making movies she was still a relevant part of pop culture. There wasn’t a Saturday or Sunday afternoon that would pass without a movie of her’s on.
    She was a true icon in every sense of the word. R.I.P.

  4. Is it just me or is the site screwing up for any of you guys too? I’m finding that I can post comments but not directly reply to anyone else to add a thought to their comment.

    I’m not retyping my Shirley Temple tribute again, mainly because I can’t remember half of what I typed.

  5. Nope, even a separate comment isn’t showing, even though it did on another article. Curiouser and curiouser…

    • @ Dazz

      You must be having the same problem I am on this link. I’ve commented twice (once on mobile, once desktop) and neither has shown up.

      If at some point they both do, each was worded differently but my point is still the same.

    • Yep, it’s happening to me also. Someone musta sunk the Good Ship Lollipop!

  6. RIP Shirley Temple.

    Like Kofi said above Shirley Temple was a true definition of the word “icon”.
    I grew up in the 80′s and even then, over 30 years after she was making movies on a regular basis everyone knew who Shirley Temple was and her work was constantly on Saturday and Sunday afternoon TV.

  7. I used to watch her collection of videos as a kid….rest in peace Shirley, you made us all smile

  8. Tap-a tap-a tap-a

  9. I never used to think of Ronald Reagan as a heavy drinker, but there he is with a “Shirley Temple”, right before my very eyes!

  10. I grew up in the 80′s too, but have always enjoyed her movies. A talented and adorable child actress; a talented and beautiful lady. I’ve always thought it was a shame that Shirley Temple didn’t get to do more film roles as an adult. Thanks for a very classy tribute.

  11. As a very young child, I enjoyed watching “Heidi” with Shirley Temple, which was one of my mom’s favorite movies, so she always had my sister and I watch it when it was on.