Last Updated: Nov 20th, 2009 - 07:06:39 |
Shirley Temple Black
April 23, 1928
Santa Monica, California
Born with the name Shirley Jane Temple, the talented singer and tap-dancer was perhaps the last child actress allowed to be a child. Her father was a bank teller and her mother a housewife, but Shirley Temples cheerful demeanor and bright smile were just what the doctor ordered for the depression sickened United States. Her cute lisp combined with a commanding and magical presence on the screen despite her young age.
Shirley Temples first work as an actress was done at age three for a movie studio called Baby Burlesks, which produced works that parodied popular films by using children to play roles made famous by adults. In 1934, she got her big break when she transitioned from contract player to super star in Stand Up and Cheer (1934) for 20th Century Fox. On the Good Ship Lollipop sold over half a million copies. She gained international fame that same year with Little Miss Marker (1934), however, Bright Eyes (1934) was the first film where Shirley Temple played a character with depth.
Shirley Temple also broke rules, or rather racial perimeters when she performed in a musical Civil War drama called The Little Colonel (1934) along side Bill Bojangles Robinson. The scene where the two danced side-by-side up and down a staircase was way before its time, but then again, so was Temple. She was performing the most complicated musical routines ever produced on a Hollywood sound stage. She also preferred to do her own stunts!
The height of Shirley Temples career was between 1932 and 1936 when she starred in 35 films. She was voted the number one box-office star in America in 1935. The film The Blue Bird (1939) was the last in which she would perform as a child actress. She was the only 12-year-old with a nine-year-old career. She was mature enough to perform with the likes of talent such as Lionel Barrymore, Sidney Blackmer, Robert Young, and Jimmy Durante. If it werent for the large gross revenues from her films, Fox might not have lasted as a film studio. Every little girl wanted a Shirley Temple doll, so she even played a role in movie merchandising.
Temples teenage years were spent acting like a teen at Westlake School for Girls. Her professionalism and mature attitude prevented this star from falling as many child stars do once their career is over. At age 17, she married actor and co-star John Agar. They had one daughter named Susan and by age 21 were divorced. During a trip to Hawaii, she met her second husband, Charles Black. They married in 1950 and moved to Bethesda, Maryland.
As she brought many smiles to grim faces during her acting career, her charisma eventually led her to an adult life of public service. In 1949, she retired from acting and after her brother George was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1952, she began her career in diplomacy. She became co-founder of the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies. Other appointments included U.S. Representative to the United Nations in 1969 under Richard Nixon, Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana and first woman White House Chief of Protocol for Gerald Ford, Foreign Affairs Officer with the State Department for Ronald Reagan, and Ambassador to Czechoslovakia under George Bush. She was a respected diplomat and spent 27 years working for the State Department.
Shirley Temple was the star of more than 40 motion pictures, most of them produced in the 1930s, and 50 major television productions. She made 20 films by age six alone, yet her movies continue to charm audiences of new generations. Her awards include a special Academy Award for her performance in Bright Eyes, a special Academy Award for her signature song On the Good Ship Lollipop, an Emmy, and an Oscar award. She wrote an award winning autobiography called Child Star in 1988, and youve probably tried a drink named after her.
Shirley Temple Black is now retired and lives in Woodside, California, with her husband, Charles, where they have resided for over four decades raising Susan and their two children Lori and Charles, Jr. In 1972, when a biopsy showed a malignancy, she had a mastectomy which most likely saved her life. Ironic since she worked most of her life to create a better one for others. Shirley Temple Black is a rarity in that she sparkled at age three on camera and hasnt stopped since.
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Shirley Temple Fans
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View posters, pictures, and song lyrics of the most memorable films in Shirley Temple history.
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