Shirley Temple, the adoring young actress who was part of the classical Hollywood era, has died from natural causes at the age of 85.
Her death was confirmed last night at her home in California with her family issuing a statement:
“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 55 years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black.”
Regarded as “American’s little darling”, Temple charmed audiences with her blonde curls and cute persona during the 1930s. Born in 1928, she landed her first film role aged just three and went on to forge a successive career in singing and dancing.
At the tender age of six, she was awarded with a special Juvenile Oscar in 1935 for which she still holds the record of being the youngest person to receive that iconic accolade.
Her successive career in the 1930s saw her star in hit films like Stand Up and Cheer, The Littlest Rebel, The Little Princess and Bright Eyes, the latter of which saw her produce a memorable rendition of “On the Good Ship Lollipop”.
Temple’s popularity also attracted praise from US president Franklin Roosevelt who dubbed her “Little Miss Miracle” for raising the morale of those suffering on hard times during the Great Depression.
At the age of 20, her last major film role saw her star opposite fellow Hollywood greats John Wayne and Henry Fonda in the western Ford Apache (1948). But having made 43 feature films in nearly twenty years, she finally decided to finish acting after struggling to mix her work with growing up.
She would eventually return to the public eye as a politician in the 1960s and ultimately ran as a Republican candidate for Congress only to lose.
Temple was then appointed as a US delegation member to the United Nations General Assembly by President Richard Nixon but was eventually named US ambassador to Ghana by President Ford in 1974. In 1989, she was made the US ambassador to Czechoslovakia shortly before the fall of the country’s Communist regime.
Her last major public appearance came in 2006 when she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award by the Screen Actor’s Guild.
She is survived by her three children as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.