A look back: The life and career of Hollywood sweetheart


Carson Stringham

Staff Writer

Americans recently lost a member of Hollywood royalty.

While many of today’s youth may not even know who she was, Shirley Temple Black’s life spanned almost a century, taking her from the silver screen to a life of public service as a United States Ambassador.

Black, better known as Shirley Temple, was born on April 23, 1928, and was the youngest of three children. She lived with her father, mother and two siblings in Santa Monica, Calif.

At age three, Black started taking dance lessons; it was this love of dance that would help jumpstart her career in the movies.

At age four, Black began appearing in Hollywood pictures, slowly earning a name for herself and quickly becoming America’s favorite little darling. She was a true triple threat: her acting was adorable, she could carry a tune and her feet could tap with the best in the business, including Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.

After signing with Fox Studios, Black became a household name.

Throughout her career, she became famous for playing spunky characters who always did the right thing, even if it meant getting into trouble with adult authority figures. She played the title character of such classics as “Heidi,” ‘Little Miss January,” “The Littlest Rebel” and “The Little Princess.”

At the age of 17, Black married and started a family. She continued to make movies for a couple more years, but eventually left her acting career behind in favor of being a full-time wife and mother.

She divorced her first husband after four years of marriage. She then married Charles Black in 1950. The couple had two more children. Black would return to the bright lights of the entertainment industry in 1958, but with her own television series, “Shirley Temple’s Storybook.” The show ran until 1961.

Once she moved out of the spotlight, Black entered the world of foreign politics. She became a United States representative in the United Nations, acted as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana and Czechoslovakia and was the first woman to be the U.S. Chief of Protocol. In 1972, Black was once again in the public eye; she had decided to publicly announce diagnosis with breast cancer and share that she was to have a mastectomy.

From that point on, she became a crusader for breast cancer awareness, encouraging women to talk frankly with their doctors and preaching about early detection and treatment of the disease.

Black encouraged: “Don’t sit at home and be afraid. Go to the doctor and get it checked.”

of people like Black.

In a world where the public gives more attention to young celebrities who act inappropriately, one tends to forget that in each one of those stars lies the potential for greatness and a chance to mentor and inspire the next generation of dreamers.

Black’s message for the youth of today is this: “Be brave and clear. Follow your heart and don’t be overly influenced by outside factors. Be true to yourself.”

All information and quotes come directly from the Official Shirley Temple Website,  www.shirleytemple.com.


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