“I am Shirley Temple the one with curly hair, I have two dimples but I don’t really care…”
The tap dancing, bright-eyed, dimpled one time child star has peacefully passed away from natural causes on Monday night at her California home. She was 85 years old. The movies she entertained Americans with in the 30s during the Great Depression were still being shown on our television screens in the 80s keeping kids and adults alike entranced.
What many didn’t know at the time was that Shirley Temple ended up spending more time in public service working as a U.S. diplomat than as an actress after she retired for good from the screen aged 21 in 1949. While her childhood popularity helped her career internationally, the money-making star whose mum told her to “Shine, Shirley!” before appearing in public, apparently had problems being taken seriously in the US at first as Americans found it hard to shake off her child star image.
Ranking the 18th greatest female American screen legend on the American Film Institutes list, and recipient of Kennedy Center Honors and a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, Shirley Temple Black was also a U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia in 1974 and 1989 respectively.
In 1972 she survived a battle with breast cancer and used her experience as an opportunity to educate women on the illness discussing her ordeal publicly. She published, Child Star, her autobiography in 1988.