Shirley Temple danced into the hearts of America with her charming smile and adorable dimples in the 1930s reaching the kind of childhood stardom no other has attained since. She walked on at her home in Woodside, California at the age of 85 on Monday night.
From 1935 to 1939 she was the most popular movie star in America—the handsome Clark Gable was a distant second, she was photographed more than President Franklin D. Roosevelt and received more mail than Greta Garbo, reports the New York Times. She even has a drink named after her—the sweet concoction of lemon-lime soda and grenadine topped with a cherry created by the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood.
She started acting at age 3, won an Academy Award at the age of 6 and earned $3 million before reaching puberty. Her first major movie was in 1932 when she appeared in “War Babies,” part of the “Baby Burlesks” series of short films. But when public interest waned as she grew up, she didn’t let that discourage her.
She retired from the movie biz at 22, married Charles Alden Black in 1950 and became a prominent Republican fund-raiser. In 1969, she was appointed as a delegate the United Nations General Assembly by President Richard M. Nixon. That wasn’t her only post though. She served there until 1974 when she became the U.S. ambassador to Ghana until 1976. In 1976 and 1977 she was President Gerald R. Ford’s chief of protocol, and in 1989 became George H. W. Bush’s ambassador to Czechoslovakia.
Her diplomacy didn’t end there, Phillip Hillaire says she visited the Lummi Nation for the canoe races in the 1970s.
“May she rest in peace. Anyone recall her visiting Lummi Nation for the annual canoe races? I know my father sure talked a lot if [sic] her making a trip to Indian country. Thank you Shirley for reaching out to our people,” Hillaire posted on his Facebook page this morning.
Her family was certainly proud of all of her accomplishments. They released this in a statement: “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.”
She was born Shirley Jane Temple April 23, 1928 at 9 p.m. according to her website. “Too late for dinner, and so I started life one meal behind,” Temple says in her biography. “Ever since, I have tried to make up for that loss.”
Her father, George Francis Temple, was a businessman and banker in Southern California and her mother, Gertrude Amelia Krieger, loved dancing, which started Shirley’s dancing career at just 3 years old. It was then that she was discovered by two producers at Mrs. Meglin’s Dance Studio in Los Angeles. And the rest is—as they say—history.