Shirley Temple: Child Star, Political Player, Cultural Icon

Shirley Temple arrives at the 20th Century Fox studio lot to celebrate her eighth birthday.
Alfred Eisenstaedt—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Shirley Temple arrives at the 20th Century Fox studio to celebrate her eighth birthday, 1936.

Shirley Temple Black — known to millions as simply Shirley Temple, who acted in scores of movies and was arguably the greatest child movie star of all time — died on Monday, Feb. 10, in her Woodside, Calif., home. She was 85.

The dimpled California native was a constant presence on the silver screen during the Great Depression, lighting up movies like Stand Up and Cheer! and Bright Eyes with her singing, dancing and her sharp (but never cloying) wit. She retired from the movies when she was just 21, in 1950, and later made her name as a national and even an international political figure. She held a number of diplomatic posts during her lifetime, including U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia during that country’s convulsive years in the late 1980s.

Temple Black’s family paid tribute to her in a statement that read, in part, “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 for fifty-five years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black.”

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