Shirley Temple, Iconic Former Child Star, Dead at 85
Shirley Temple, an iconic child star and the former US ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia, died February 10 in her home in California surrounded by her family and caregivers. She was 85.
A family spokeswoman released a statement (via Reuters), which says she passed away from natural causes. She’s survived by three children, one granddaughter and two great-granddaughters.
“We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and most importantly as our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and adored wife of fifty-five years,” said the spokeswoman.
Born on April 23, 1928, Shirley Temple (known in her private life as Shirley Temple Black) was a movie sensation of the Great Depression by the time she was 5. Her doe-eyed, dimpled complexion and cutesy tap-dancing skills were featured in numerous films throughout the 1930s and beyond, including ‘Bright Eyes,’ ‘Curly Top,’ ‘Heidi’ and ‘The Little Princess.’ She previously got her start at the age of 3, when her mother enlisted her in dance school, after which a talent scout got her into a series of movie shorts spoofing adult films, ‘Baby Burlesk.’
Shirley Temple received an Oscar for Outstanding Contribution to Screen Entertainment in 1935, and she’d eventually be catapulted into films opposite big-name actors like John Wayne (‘Forte Apache’), Randolph Scott (‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm’) and Jimmy Durante (‘Little Miss Broadway’).
After her child stardom ended by the age of 12 — she attempted a continuation as a teenager — she married for the first time for five years at the age of 17 to John Agar, and she eventually retired from acting at 21. (She would later attempt a comeback in the 1950s on two short-lived television shows, ‘Shirley Temple’s Storybook’ and ‘The Shirley Temple Theater.’) Following that marriage, she wed Charles Black in 1950, though he passed in 2005.
She would become interested in politics, thanks to Charles, and would be appointed to the United Nations team, and would later become an ambassador for Ghana and Czechoslovakia.