America has lost another of our greatest entertainers in Shirley Temple Black, who died Monday night, February 11, in her home near San Francisco at the age of 85. She was preceded in death by her husband Charles Alden Black, who died in 2005. They had been married 55 years at the time of his death.
It has been said that Shirley Temple was the most famous child actor in the history of the movies. Very few would want to argue that point.
She was born Shirley Jane Temple, on April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California.
Her first two appearances on-screen was in two shorts in 1932 and her first credited role in a movie was for Red Haired Alibi released in 1932. She appeared in several more shorts and uncredited roles in movies and her scenes in Mandalay in 1934 were deleted. However, before the end of 1934 she would appear in seven more movies in credited roles. Little Miss Marker and Bright Eyes were just two of those movies released in 1934.
Temple was also heard on old-time radio in 42 programs.
1935 would see four more Shirley Temple movies released including The Little Colonel and Curly Top. She had appeared in 20 movies by the time she was 7 years old.
By the time 1940 was over Temple had appeared in 34 movies and she was only 12 years old. She then started appearing as a teenager in movies later in the 40’s, including Kiss and Tell and Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer.
Surprisingly she made her last movie in 1949 at the age of 21, when she appeared in a Kiss For Corliss Archer.
Nine years would pass before she would appear in her own television series Shirley Temple Storybook from 1958-1961. She would make her second and last television appearance on Red Skelton Show in 1963.
By the time of her death last night she hadn’t made a movie in 65 years and hadn’t appeared on television in 51 years.
IMDB.com lists some interesting trivia about Shirley Temple:
She was 5 foot 2.
1935-1938 were the years of her peak popularity. She was box office champion during those years, topping more famous adult actors and actresses like Clark Gable and Joan Crawford.
By 1939 her popularity had declined.
She married actor John Agar at the age of 17 and the marriage lasted from 1945-1950. They were divorced on December 7, 1950.
Nine days later she would marry Charles Alden Black, to whom she remained married to, for 55 years until his death in 2005 from bone marrow disease at the age of 86.
Ironically her new husband had never seen any of her movies.
She may have been Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, but 20th Century Fox refused to lend her to MGM to make the movie.
Shirley Jones and Shirley MacLaine were both named after Shirley Temple.
Would serve as U.S. Ambassador to Ghana.
Was on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
Her new contract from 20th Century Fox in 1936 paid her $50,000 per film.
A cocktail named after her became known as the Shirley Temple cocktail. It consisted of Ginger Ale or 7-Up, Grenadine and orange juice topped with a Maraschino cherry and a slice of lemon. Temple said she didn’t like the drink.
Gary Cooper asked for Shirley Temple’s autograph, when he met her in 1934.
She made an attempt at political office: In 1967 she ran against Paul McCloskey in the Republican primary for California’s 11th Congressional District. McCloskey won with 52,878 votes to her 34,521. One of the newspaper headlines read: “McCloskey Torpedoes Good Ship Lollypop”.
Some of her other political appointment jobs:
U.S. Chief of Protocol
For those who want to see a list of all the Shirley Temple movies: