the kid superstar
Shirley Temple Black grew up as America's sweetheart, a ray of hope during the Great Depression. Cast in her first major motion pictures at age 4, Shirley had 46 films and an Academy Award under her belt before she even hit her teens. A true international celebrity, she was the world's most photographed person and top box-office draw from 1935-1939.
Shirley spread hope + goodwill as a ringletted toddler in the film industry; she did the same as an adult in government service. Re-entering the public eye after quietly raising a family, America’s Darling eventually became one of its top envoys. Shirley held diplomatic posts in Ghana and Czechoslovakia. And, was the first woman to be appointed as the US Chief of Protocol.
ringlets + dimples | an adorable superstar
dancing + singing | started tapping at age 2
being the face of wholesome, family entertainment
public service | as an actor, philanthropist and diplomat
uncommon down-to-earthness | childhood superstardom didn't prevent her from becoming a happy, level-headed adult
1933 | after acting in some infamous "baby burlesks," got her first big break at age 4 when she was spotted by Fox Film songwriter dancing in a movie theater lobby
1935 | received a special mini-Oscar for her outstanding contributions as a "juvenile" entertainer, marking the beginning of her record-breaking 4-year reign as #1 at the box-office
1976 | was appointed by Pres. Gerald Ford as the US Chief of Protocol
from | to
one of the world's biggest celebrities | one of the US's leading diplomats
April 23, 1928
Santa Monica, California
nickname | also known as
The United States of America
Gertrude Amelia + George Francis Temple
2 brother | George Francis + John Stanley
Westlake School for Girls
~ army sergeant | married 1945 - 1949 ~
Charles Alden Black
~ army intelligence officer + businessman | married in 1950 ~
2 daughters + 1 son | Linda Susan Agar, Charles Alden Black, Jr. + Lori Alden Black
worked alongside | influenced by
Bill "Bojangles" Robinson
some notable Shirley Temple fans
Franklin Delano + Eleanor Roosevelt
~ invited Shirley to the White House ~
~ visited Shirley at the Fox Studios + gave her a map of her last flight around the world ~
~ kept pictures of Shirley in the attic where she and her family were in hiding ~
~ posted photos of Shirley in his childhood bedroom ~
J. Edgar Hoover
~ Shirley loved him, too, and thought he had one of the nicest laps to sit on ~
"Sunnybrook Farm is now a parking lot; the petticoats are in the garbage can, where they belong in the modern world; and I detest censorship."Sex at the Box Office | january 1967
"Sexuality in movies can run the gamut from tenderness to hilarity to boredom to poor taste. By my definition, this is not to be confused with pornography."Sex at the Box Office | january 1967
"The specter of breast cancer is a universal element of the feminine condition—and it makes sisters of us all, the world over. We need to reach out to one another, to sustain one another through this problem that we all share."Don't Sit Home and Be Afraid | february 1973
"I am a body, and I vigorously defend my right to do with my body exactly what I wish to do."Don't Sit Home and Be Afraid | february 1973
"The doctor can make the incision, but I'll make the decision."Don't Sit Home and Be Afraid | february 1973
"It's a great honor to be the first woman Chief of Protocol for the United States of America. I don't know why, Mr. President, it took 200 years for one of us to get the job, but I will do all my very best work to try to fill all the various assorted sizes of shoes of the distinguished men who have been Chief of Protocol."the Swearing In of Shirley Temple Black as Chief of Protocol for the State Department | july 1976
"Titles are interesting, but they hamper dialogue."Shirley Temple Black ~ Dimpled Chief of Protocol | september 1976
"Shirley Temple opens doors for me all over the world. And if Shirley Temple Black can contribute something, then I do."The Diane Rehm Show | 1988
"I had so much energy, [my mother] was afraid I was gonna pull the house down."The Diane Rehm Show | 1988
"By the time I started the baby burlesques at age three and a half, I had a basic understanding of dancing, and how to fall down, and how to find the light."The Diane Rehm Show | 1988
"I was really a tomboy, but America didn't know that. They thought I was always a sweet and nice little girl."The Diane Rehm Show | 1988
"I like working-class people the best, always have. When I saw work shoes I would know that that person worked. I was very worried about people with shiny, pointy shoes as a child."with Leonard Maltin | 1998
"I’d had a lot of crowds...but my mother always said, at a premiere, ‘They’ve come to see all of the stars.’ And I said, ‘Well, why are they saying ‘Shirley, Shirley, Shirley?’ She said, ‘Because your films make them happy.’"with Leonard Maltin | 1998
"I've been blessed with 3 wonderful careers—motion pictures and television; wife, mother and grandmother; and diplomatic services for the United States government."The Screen Actors Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award | january 2005
Shirley played an orphan with a love of aviation (inherited from her pilot father) in this Depression-era blockbuster. It was the first movie written specifically for the young superstar, and featured the debut of her signature song, "On the Good Ship Lollipop."
Shirley sees her old friend the president.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a big Shirley fan, even inviting the young actor to the White House for a visit. The original caption: "Shirley Temple leaving the White House offices of the president today after a very important conference with the President. Shirley told the President about losing a tooth last night, and he told her about Sistie and Buzzie losing their teeth. Shirley expects to be in Washington a week checking on the affairs of government with different government officials."
Harris & Ewing | Library of Congress
Shirley's film career slowed down as she grew up...The Fox technicolor adaptation of The Little Princess release in 1939 was her last big success. The child star rushed into an unhappy marriage at 17 and largely retreated from public life to raise her 3 children until her second husband encouraged her to take an active part in politics.
Film Star Vintage | CC BY 2.0
Photograph of Shirley Temple Black Shaking Hands with President Gerald Ford
A long-time Republican supporter, Shirley was appointed by President Nixon as a delegate to the United Nations before she got her official start in politics as the US Ambassador to Ghana in 1974. (She actually ran unsuccessfully for congress in 1967, but earned consideration as a diplomat when she impressed Secretary of State Henry Kissinger with a discussion of Namibia at a party.) This photo was taken after her swearing in ceremony as the US Chief of Protocol in 1976. Shirley was the first woman to hold the position. She went on to serve as the Ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989.
Ford White House Photographs
ET's Last Interview With Shirley Temple Black
Shirley was honored with the Screen Actor Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.