Actress and later, political activist, Shirley Temple was born on April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California. Temple’s mother recognized her daughter’s natural talent for singing, dancing, and acting. Temple also had a bigger than life personality. Her mother cultivated Temple’s talents and encouraged her toward a career in dance and the movies.
Shirley Temple got her big break at the age of six-years-old, when she debuted in the film, Stand Up and Cheerand a film called Bright Eyes. Shortly after these films, Temple found success in a series of other films, including The Little Colonel and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.
Her success in these films endeared her to the public and she was the highest grossing star in American cinema, during the height of the Great Depression. Arguably, one of her more famous movies was Heidi. Along with a number of unforgettable films, Shirley Temple has given us some timeless songs such as The Good Ship Lollipop and Animal Crackers in My Soup.
Shirley Temple also became famous for curly hairstyle, that came to be known as the “Shirley Temple Curls”. Temple’s mother made sure that the hair stylist had exactly 52 ringlets in her hair, for every take, of every film. It is unknown why she had to have the exact number of ringlets and another source states that the number was 56.
Shirley Temple retired from acting at the young age of seventeen after making more than forty films and fifty television shows. At the age of 20, Temple married her first husband, actor John Agar. They had one child together. The couple divorced a year later. She soon married a businessman from California, whom she had met while vacationing in Hawaii, Charles Alden Black. They had two children, a son born in 1952 and a daughter born two years later.
In 1967, Shirley Temple ran for Congress after becoming very active in Republican politics. She ran against Representative Pete McCloskey from California and lost. Her platform was defending the United States’ involvement in the Viet Nam War. This didn’t deter her political aspirations though. In 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed her as a delegate to the United Nations and in 1974, President Gerald Ford gave her the position as U.S. Ambassador to Ghana. In 1976, the last year of the Ford Administration, Shirley Temple became the first female Chief of Protocol. She was in charge of coordination of protocol issues within all of the United States embassies and consulates. Then during the President George H. W. Bush administration, Temple served as ambassador to Czechoslovakia.
In 2014, Shirley Temple Black passed away at the age of 85 but left an enormous legacy behind which also included two autobiographies called My Young Life in 1945 and the other one was published in 1988, called Child Star.