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Shirley Temple, 'America's Little Darling,' dead at 85

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  • Shirley Temple, 'America's Little Darling,' dead at 85

    Shirley Temple Black, who lifted America's spirits as a bright-eyed, dimpled child movie star during the Great Depression and later became a U.S. diplomat, died late on Monday evening at the age of 85, her family said in a statement.

    Temple Black, who lured millions to the movies in the 1930s, "peacefully passed away" at her Woodside, Calif., home from natural causes at 10:57 p.m. local time, surrounded by her family and caregivers, the statement said on Tuesday.

    "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," the statement said.

    As actress Shirley Temple, she was precocious, bouncy and adorable with a head of curly hair, tap-dancing through songs like "On The Good Ship Lollipop." As Ambassador Shirley Temple Black, she was soft-spoken and earnest in postings in Czechoslovakia and Ghana, out to disprove concerns that her previous career made her a diplomatic lightweight.

    "I have no trouble being taken seriously as a woman and a diplomat here," Black said after her appointment as U.S. ambassador to Ghana in 1974. "My only problems have been with Americans who, in the beginning, refused to believe I had grown up since my movies."

    Black, born April 23, 1928, started her entertainment career in the early 1930s and was famous by age 6. She became a national institution and her raging popularity spawned look-alike dolls, dresses and dozens of other Shirley Temple novelties as she became one of the first stars to enjoy the fruits of the growing marketing mentality.

    Shirley was 3 when her mother put her in dance school, where a talent scout spotted her and got her in "Baby Burlesk," a series of short movies with child actors spoofing adult movies.
    Honestly, I didn't even know she was still alive. I also didn't know she was "only" 85. It has always seemed to me like she should have been much older, but then I haven't watched a Shirley Temple movie in probably 30 years or more.

    At any rate, it's definitely the passing of a legend.
    It's been ten years since that lonely day I left you
    In the morning rain, smoking gun in hand
    Ten lonely years but how my heart, it still remembers
    Pray for me, momma, I'm a gypsy now

  • #2
    Woodside has lots of interesting people hiding out.

    I liked Shirley Temple movies when I was a kid. They mixed them in with the Depression Era cartoons that I adored and haven't seen in decades.
    The year's at the spring
    And day's at the morn;
    Morning's at seven;
    The hill-side's dew-pearled;
    The lark's on the wing;
    The snail's on the thorn:
    God's in his heaven—
    All's right with the world!


    • #3
      I knew she was alive and I'm sorry to hear that she died. Unlike so many others (including contemporaries who also had childhood acting careers), she made a successful transition to a well lived adult life.

      I think many people thought she had died because she didn't move in Hollywood circles socially and she didn't have the kind of life that lends itself to mugshots or stints in rehab. Besides her public service career, Shirley Temple Black was probably the first famous woman to candidly discuss her experience with surviving breast cancer. She helped to change the public image of breast cancer victims from pathetic "half-women" to vibrant survivors.

      She was a lot more than a cute mop-headed kid.
      "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."