It’s a sad day for film fans, with the loss of another screen icon. Former child star and U.S. Ambassador Shirley Temple died on Monday night of natural causes, at her home in California. She was surrounded by her family and loved ones.
A spokesperson for the family issued the following statement shortly after Temple’s death:
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.
Shirley Temple was born in 1928, began acting at age 3, and was a major Hollywood star by age 7. She appeared in 43 feature films and 14 short films over her remarkable career, including Bright Eyes and The Little Princess. Known for her shock of curly hair and her fast tap-dancing feet, her career took off throughout the 1930s. In 1935, she was even awarded a special Oscar for her achievements . As she reached adolescence her career began to fade, however, and Temple never really made the transition from child to adult film star. Tired of the limelight, she retired from the silver screen in 1950, when she was only 22 years old.
Unlike many stars of today who “retire,” Temple actually retired, marrying Charles Alden Black in 1950. After a brief attempt at a television career, she embarked on politics and and campaigned for Congress in 1967. She was an unsuccessful Congressional candidate, but in 1974 was appointed the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana in 1974. She remained in politics for the rest of her career, acting as the U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia for President George H.W. Bush.
Temple was one of the few examples of child stars who outgrew her childishness and managed to maintain a reasonable, healthy lifestyle. Unlike some of her fellows, both past and present, she formed a successful life for herself outside of Hollywood. She still left an indelible impression on the screen and on American culture; she even has a non-alcoholic cocktail named after her.
For anyone who’s a fan of classic films, Shirley Temple will be remembered and missed.