Shirley Temple Black life and biography

Shirley Temple Black picture, image, poster

Shirley Temple Black biography

Date of birth : 1928-04-23
Date of death : 2014-02-10
Birthplace : Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2014-02-12
Credited as : actress, Kennedy Center Honors, Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award

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Shirley Jane Temple, later known as Shirley Temple Black, was an American film and television actress, singer, dancer, autobiographer, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. She began her film career in 1932 at the age of four (thought by the public to be three)[citation needed], and in 1934, skyrocketed to superstardom in Bright Eyes, a feature film designed specifically for her talents. She received a special Academy Award in February 1935, and film hits such as Curly Top and Heidi followed year after year during the mid to late 1930s.

Licensed merchandise that capitalized on her wholesome image included dolls, dishes, and clothing. Her box office popularity waned as she reached adolescence, and she left the film industry at the age of 12 to attend high school. She appeared in a few films of varying quality in her mid to late teens, and retired completely from films in 1950 at the age of 22. She was the top box-office draw four years in a row (1935–38) in a Motion Picture Herald poll.

Temple returned to show business in 1958 with a two-season television anthology series of fairy tale adaptations. She made guest appearances on various television shows in the early 1960s and filmed a sitcom pilot that was never released. She sat on the boards of many corporations and organizations including The Walt Disney Company, Del Monte Foods, and the National Wildlife Federation. In 1967, she ran unsuccessfully for United States Congress, and was appointed United States Ambassador to Ghana in 1974 and to Czechoslovakia in 1989. In 1988, she published her autobiography, Child Star. Temple is the recipient of many awards and honors including Kennedy Center Honors and a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

Shirley Temple's first contract was with Educational Pictures Inc., for whom she worked in 1932 and 1933. She appeared in a short movie entitled Baby Burlesks, followed by a two-reeler, Frolics of Youth, that would lead to her being contracted by the Fox Film Corporation at a salary of $150 per week. The first full-length feature that she appeared in for Fox was Carolina (1934). It was another Fox release of that year that made her a star: Stand Up and Cheer. She appeared in eight other full-length films that year, including Little Miss Marker and Bright Eyes. The first of these is especially notable because it was her first starring role. In 1934 the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences awarded her with a special miniature Oscar "in grateful recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year, 1934."

Through the rest of the decade Shirley Temple's star soared. It was not only her adorable dimples and fifty-six corkscrew curls that would keep her at the top of the box office listings. She was a spectacularly talented child, able to sing and dance with style and genuine feeling. Gifted with perfect pitch, she was a legendary quick study who learned her lines and dance routines much faster than her older and more experienced costars.

Unfortunately, little of the built-up popularity would be Temple's to claim by the time she was an adult. As she reports in her autobiography (a person's own life story), her father's questionable management of herfunds, coupled with both of her parents' spending, enabled her to enjoy only a fraction of the immense fortune she had earned. By 1940 she had appeared in forty-three feature films and shorts, and an entire industry had sprung up with products celebrating the glories of Shirley Temple: dolls, dresses, coloring books, and other merchandise.

Between January and December 1958 Temple hosted and narrated a successful NBC television anthology series of fairy tale adaptations called Shirley Temple's Storybook. Temple acted in three of the sixteen hour-long episodes, and her children made their acting debuts in the Christmas episode, "Mother Goose". The series was popular but faced some problems. The show lacked the special effects necessary for fairy tale dramatizations, sets were amateurish, and episodes were telecast in no regular time-slot, making it difficult to generate a following. The show was reworked and released in color in September 1960 in a regular time-slot as The Shirley Temple Show (also known as Shirley Temple Theater). It faced stiff competition from a popular western and a Disney program however, and was canceled at season's end in September 1961.

By the decade's end Temple was no longer quite a child. When The Blue Bird (1940) proved unpopular at the box office, and the next film she starred in fared poorly as well, Twentieth-Century Fox devised a means of getting rid of the "property" that had saved the fledgling studio from bankruptcy. She tried to maintain her acting career through the 1940s, but never again did she come even close to the stardom of her childhood. Film audiences would simply not allow the adorable girl who had sung "On the Good Ship Lolly Pop" and "Animal Crackers (in My Soup)" to grow up.

It is arguable that nothing could have been done to preserve Temple's youthful magic. Yet her ongoing struggles as an adult would prove her to be as heroic in her own life as she had ever been on the screen. A difficult first marriage to actor John Agar caused her to mature quickly. Almost immediately thereafter came the realization that her parents had been looking out for their own best interests rather than hers.

In 1950 Temple married the successful California businessman Charles Black, with whom she raised her children. Her concern over domestic social problems caused her to realize that life as a private citizen could not satisfy her desire to make the world a better place. She ran for Congress in 1967 and was defeated. This was only the beginning of her involvement in public service, however. In 1969 she was appointed to serve as a representative to the United Nations (UN), a multinational organization aimed at world peace. Her work at the United Nations led to a second career for Shirley Temple Black. In 1972 she was appointed representative to the UN Conference on the Human Environment and also served as a representative on the Joint Committee for the USSR-USA Environmental Treaty. The next year she served as a U.S. commissioner for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Black overcame a great challenge in 1972 when she successfully battled breast cancer. When she publicly disclosed that she had had a mastectomy (the surgical removal of a breast), she gave courage to millions of women. Two years later she was appointed ambassador to Ghana, where the people of that nation warmly received her. In all of her various diplomatic functions, Black's intelligence and spirit contributed greatly to her country's reputation and furthered its world position. Democratic President Jimmy Carter (1924–) paid tribute to her tact and flawless taste when he chose her (Black had been a lifelong Republican) to make the arrangements for his inauguration (swearing in as president) and inaugural ball in 1977.

By 1981 Black was such an established pillar of the public service community that she became one of the founding members of the American Academy of Diplomacy. In 1988 she was appointed Honorary Foreign Service Officer of the United States, the only person with that rank. She went on to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia (today known as the Czech Republic and Slovakia) from 1989 until 1992. Such honors are ultimately the true measure of her career's meaning.

In the autumn of 1972, Temple was diagnosed with breast cancer. The tumor was malignant and removed, and a modified radical mastectomy performed. Following the operation, she announced it to the world via radio, television, and a February 1973 article for the magazine McCall's. In doing so, she became one of the first prominent women to speak openly about breast cancer.
On March 14, 1935, Temple left her footprints and handprints in the wet cement at the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Shirley died of natural causes on February 10, 2014, at the age of 85. Temple was the recipient of awards and honors including Kennedy Center Honors and a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. She ranks 18th on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest female American screen legends of all time.

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