Former Child Star Shirley Temple Passes Away

February 11, 20140 Comments

Shirley Temple Black, who is arguably the most popular child star in Hollywood history, died late Monday night at the age of 85. She died of natural causes at her Woodside, California home. She was surrounded by family and caregivers.

She began acting at the age of 3 and became a massive box-office draw before turning 10, commanding a then-unheard of salary of $50,000 per movie. Her first film of notice was in 1932 when she acted in War Babies, part of the “Baby Burlesks” series of short films. For nearly 18 years she sang, tap-danced and acted into the hearts of millions and has left behind a legacy.

20th Century Fox produced a series of feature films starring Temple in the 30s including Little Miss Marker (1934), Curly Top (1935) and The Littlest Rebel (1935). At the box office, she beat such stars as Clark Gable and Bing Crosby. Her popularity spawned a variety of merchandise including dolls, hats and dresses. Her corkscrew curls became popular with little girls from the 30s through the 70s.

She was the top box-office star four years in a row, from 1935 to 1938. Her career was at its peak during the Great Depression because her films put smiles on people’s faces. As she got older, her popularity faded and Fox terminated her contract in the early 40s.

After she retired from filmmaking at the age of 22, she married Charles Black and changed her last name from Temple to Temple Black. She remained in the public eye with a long career as a foreign diplomat. She served in the U.S. delegation to the United Nations from 1969 to 1974, was U.S. ambassador to Ghana from 1974 to 1976, and U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992.

She was successfully treated for breast cancer in 1972 and later received two lifetime achievement awards for her performing career.

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