Shirley Temple

Actor / Diplomat

Born: 23 April 1928
Died: 10 February 2014
Birthplace: Santa Monica, California
Best known as:

The dimpled, child movie star of the 1930s

Child star Shirley Temple won a special Oscar in 1934, when she was just five years old, thanks to her amazing box office successes. A California native, Shirley Temple began acting in one-reel movies when she was three years old and quickly became a contract player for Fox studios. Half a dozen films later she was the biggest box office star in the country, her tap-dancing, dimples and bouncy curls having stolen the show in films such as Stand Up and Cheer, Little Miss Marker, Bright Eyes and The Little Colonel. She held the top spot for a few years and reached her apex around 1938, with Heidi (1937) and Rebecca of Sonnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway and The Little Princess. Her childhood ended and her popularity faded, and in the 1960s she had a hard time breaking into television. She retired from acting and, under her married name Shirley Temple Black, turned to politics in the late 1960s. After unsuccessful runs for public office, she had a long diplomatic career with Republican support: President Richard Nixon named her to be a U.S. Representative to the United Nations (1969); President Gerald Ford then made her Ambassador to Ghana (1974-76); she worked in the State Department as Chief of Protocol under President Ronald Reagan; and President George Bush named her Ambassador to Czechoslovakia (1989). 

Extra credit:

Shirley Temple is the eponym of a popular non-alcoholic drink that mixes lemon-lime soda with grenadine syrup… Author Graham Greene, in a scathing review of Temple's film Wee Willie Winkie, sarcastically suggested that Temple was an adult masquerading as a child, so as to heighten the impure desires of "middle-aged men and clergymen." He was sued for libel and lost.

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