Shirley Temple Dies; Childhood Movie Star Became Diplomat

By February 11, 2014NPR News
Bill Robinson, as the butler, teaches Shirley Temple his world-famous stair dance in a scene from The Little Colonel in 1935. AP

Bill Robinson, as the butler, teaches Shirley Temple his world-famous stair dance in a scene from The Little Colonel in 1935. AP

Shirley Temple, who charmed the nation as a child movie star in the 1930s and went on to become one of the nation’s diplomats in posts that included ambassador to Czechoslovakia during the Cold War, has died.

She was 85.

The Associated Press writes that publicist Cheryl Kagan says the actress, known as Shirley Temple Black in her private life, died late Monday evening at her home near San Francisco. Kagan tells the AP that Temple’s family and caregivers were with her.

In a statement, the family says:

“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.”

On Morning Edition, NPR’s Alison Bryce’s report begins by calling Temple “the most famous childhood star of all times.” It recalls a 1985 conversation Temple had with NPR in which the actress says she “loved learning to dance and sing. … Children don’t have a lot of memories and so you’re like a blotter — everything you learn very quickly — and for me, since I didn’t have much in my head, I was able to learn everything relatively easily.”

The BBC reminds us that:

“The actress found fame as a young girl in the 1930s in films like Bright Eyes, Stand Up and Cheer and Curly Top.

“After retiring from films in 1950 at the age of 21, Temple returned to the public eye as a Republican candidate for Congress and as a U.S. diplomat.”

She was, the AP adds, “a talented and ultra-adorable entertainer … [and] America’s top box-office draw from 1935 to 1938, a record no other child star has come near. She beat out such grown-ups as Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Robert Taylor, Gary Cooper and Joan Crawford. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranking of the top 50 screen legends ranked Temple at No. 18 among the 25 actresses. She appeared in scores of movies and kept children singing ‘On the Good Ship Lollipop’ for generations.”

Hollywood Reporter calls Temple “the enchanting singing and dancing child star with the glowing corkscrew curls who saved a Hollywood studio [Fox] and helped yank America from the throes of the Great Depression.” It adds that:

“Making $1,250 a week at age 6, the incandescent Temple was a veteran of 46 features and one-reelers before she turned 13. A huge star in a pint-sized package, she received an average of 16,000 letters a month, and for one birthday, fans sent her 167,000 presents.”

She will also be remembered for a drink designed to supposedly make children look grown-up. During her diplomatic career, Temple once told NPR’s Scott Simon, everywhere she went people couldn’t resist serving her a “Shirley Temple” — a nonalcoholic cocktail of 7-Up, grenadine syrup, orange juice and a maraschino cherry. “Yes, well, those were created in the 1930s by the Brown Derby Restaurant in Hollywood, and I had nothing to do with it,” she told Scott.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit
Read original article – Published February 11, 2014 6:30 AM
Shirley Temple Dies; Childhood Movie Star Became Diplomat

Recent headlines

  • (Creative Commons photo by Velkr0/Flickr)

    Ask the Energy Desk: Are plastic bag bans better for the environment?

    Bans on plastic grocery bags have been cropping up across Alaska’s remote communities. Cordova’s ban went into effect last year. But so far, the larger cities in the state have yet to adopt one.
  • The Haines state trooper car parked outside of the courthouse. (Photo by Emily Files/KHNS)

    Alaska State Troopers plan to move Haines position to Bethel

    Things are not looking good for Haines’ Alaska State Trooper post. Trooper Director Col. James Cockrell intends to reassign Haines’ one trooper position to Bethel. The decision isn’t final yet, but the community conversation about how to handle the loss continued at a Public Safety Commission meeting this week.
  • Study shows rise in some prenatal exposure to opiates

    A new study from a Alaskan epidemiologist looks at infants who were exposed to opiates before birth. Unlike previous studies, it goes beyond the sharp rise in cases for a portion of the population to explore what happens next.
  • The dark areas are pink salmon between the falls in the Anan Creek south of Wrangell, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Troy Thynes)

    State cuts bring changes to Southeast commercial fisheries

    Commercial fisheries in Southeast Alaska have survived two years of state budget cuts but not without some changes. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Commercial Fisheries has cut some positions, ended some monitoring programs, and found some new funding sources.