Shirley Temple Black, Iconic Child Star and Former U.S. Ambassador, Dead at 85
Shirley Temple, an iconic child star and the former U.S. ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia, died Monday in her Santa Monica, Calif., home surrounded by her family and caregivers. She was 85.
A family spokeswoman released a statement, which said she passed away from natural causes.
Temple is survived by three children, a 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 April 23, 1928, 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 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.’
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 (‘Fort 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 later attempt a comeback in the 1950s on two short-lived television shows, ‘Shirley Temple’s Storybook’ and ‘The Shirley Temple Theater.’
After her first marriage, in 1950 she wed Charles Black, who died in 2005.
She would become interested in politics, thanks to Black, serving as a U.S. ambassador.
— Nick Romano