Shirley Temple Black, child actress extraordinaire,
American diplomat, politician, and a role model
for girls and ladies back in the days when it was
fashionable to be ladylike, as well as a symbol of
courage for women suffering breast cancer, sailed
on the Good Ship Lollipop for heaven's shores on
February 10. Having lived on this earth for 85
years, Temple lived both a long and a full life.
Having gotten into show business by her mother's
design as a tot, Temple was signed by 20th Century
Fox in the 1930s and made an impressive (for those
Depression-era times) $250,000 per picture, making
her the richest child actress in movies. She was
a bright and cheerful diversion for a gloomy, finan-
cially-struggling people seeking to forget their
troubles for an hour or two at their local cinemas.
At the tender age of six, she received a miniature
Academy Award and had her footprints immor-
talized in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre,
joining the other movie luminaries so honored.
Among the movies that Temple starred in were
"Curly Top"; "Wee Willie Winkle"; "Heidi";
"The Littlest Rebel", in which she famously tap
danced with famed tap dancer Bill "Bojangles"
Robinson, and "Dimples". Temple was also known
for her curly hair and her dimples. In one film
she sang "On The Good Ship Lollipop", which
had practically become her signature song.
At 22, Temple saw her acting career wane as she
had outgrown her typical roles upon attaining
womanhood, so she married and started a family.
However, her first marriage ended in divorce,
and she next threw herself into politics, becoming
active in the Republican Party. She was appointed
Ambassador to Ghana by President Richard Nixon,
later named Ambassador to Czechoslovakia by
President George H.W. Bush, and was appointed
Chief of Protocol by President Gerald Ford in
between these postings, this appointment making
her the first woman to hold this post. Temple
once ran for Congress but lost. Her fame from her
first career made her visible and prominent abroad,
increasing her effectiveness in her diplomatic duties.
Temple had been diagnosed with breast cancer and
had undergone a mastectomy in the 1970s, at a time
when women generally didn't openly discuss having
either the disease or the surgery, and helped make
it easier and more sociably acceptable to do so by
making public her surgery. In so doing, she helped
save many womens' lives.
She remarried, taking as her second husband former
naval officer Charles Black, with whom she had two
children; Temple had had one child with her first hus-
band. This marriage gave Temple the marital bliss
and joy that her first marriage failed to deliver. She
remarked in an interview that her life was "overflowing"
with happiness and that "It is because I am Mrs. Charles
Alden Black ... housewife and mother of three happy
and healthy children. Not because I was Shirley Temple."
A successful woman in two career endeavors and in her
family life. Not exactly music to the ears of radical
In summation, Shirley Temple Black succeeded in life
on her own terms, and she did so without ever compromising
her femininity, her dignity, or her morals. She was a role
model for women throughout her long and storied life,
and could be so again after her passing, if the women
of today would take the time to give her a long, serious
look; for they would learn that they could have fulfilling
lives without making gratuitous sideshows of themselves.
Rest in peace, Shirley.