Shirley Jane Temple (born April 23, 1928) is an American film and television actress, singer, dancer, autobiographer, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. She began her film career in 1932 at the age of three, and in 1934, skyrocketed to superstardom in Bright Eyes, a feature film designed specifically for her talents. She received a special Academy Award in February 1935, and film hits such as Curly Top and Heidi followed year after year during the mid to late 1930s. Licensed merchandise that capitalized on her wholesome image included dolls, dishes, and clothing. Her box office popularity waned as she reached adolescence, and she left the film industry at the age of 12 to attend high school. She appeared in a few films of varying quality in her mid to late teens, and retired completely from films in 1950 at the age of 22. She was the top box-office draw four years in a row (1935–38) in a Motion Picture Herald poll.
Temple returned to show business in 1958 with a two-season television anthology series of fairy tale adaptations. She made guest appearances on various television shows in the early 1960s and filmed a sitcom pilot that was never released. She sat on the boards of many corporations and organizations including The Walt Disney Company, Del Monte Foods, and the National Wildlife Federation. In 1967, she ran unsuccessfully for United States Congress, and was appointed United States Ambassador to Ghana in 1974 and to Czechoslovakia in 1989. In 1988, she published her autobiography, Child Star. Temple is the recipient of many awards and honors including Kennedy Center Honors and a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.
Shirley Temple was born on April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California to George Francis Temple, a bank employee, and his wife Gertrude Amelia (Krieger) Temple, a housewife. The Temples were of German, Dutch, and English ancestry, and the parents of John Stanley and George Francis, Jr. at the time of Temple's birth. Mrs. Temple encouraged her daughter's infantine singing, dancing, and acting talents, and in September 1931 enrolled her in Meglin's Dance School in Los Angeles, California. About this time, she began styling Shirley's hair in ringlets similar to those of silent film star Mary Pickford.
In January 1932, Temple was signed by Educational Pictures following a talent search at the dance school. She appeared in a series of one-reelers called Baby Burlesks, and a series of two-reelers called Frolics of Youth playing Mary Lou Rogers, a youngster in a contemporary suburban family. To underwrite production costs at Educational, Temple and her child co-stars modelled for breakfast cereals and other products. She was loaned to Tower Productions for a small role in her first feature film Red-Haired Alibi in 1932, and, in 1933, to Universal, Paramount, and Warner Bros. for various bit parts.
Educational Pictures declared bankruptcy in 1933 and Temple signed with Fox Films in February 1934. She appeared in bit parts and was loaned to Paramount and Warner Bros. for bit parts. In April 1934, Stand Up and Cheer! became Temple's breakthrough film. Her charm was evident to Fox heads and she was promoted well before the film's release. Within months, she became the symbol of wholesome family entertainment. Her salary was raised to $1,250 a week, and her mother's to $150 as coach and hairdresser. In June, her success continued with a loan-out to Paramount for Little Miss Marker.
On December 28, 1934, Bright Eyes was released. It was the first feature film crafted specifically for Shirley's talents and the first in which her name appeared above the title. Her signature song On the Good Ship Lollipop was introduced in the film and sold 500,000 sheet music copies. The film demonstrated Temple's ability to portray a multi-dimensional character and established a formula for her future roles as a lovable, parentless waif whose charm and sweetness mellow gruff older men. In February 1935, Temple received a miniature Oscar for her 1934 film accomplishments, and added her foot and hand prints to the forecourt at Grauman's Chinese Theatre a month later.
Fox Films merged with Twentieth Century Pictures to become Twentieth Century-Fox in 1934. Producer and studio head Darryl F. Zanuck focused his attention and resources upon cultivating Temple's superstar status. With four successful films to her credit, she was the studio's greatest asset. Nineteen writers known as the Shirley Temple Story Development team created 11 original stories and some adaptations of the classics for her.
Biographer Anne Edwards writes about the tone and tenor of Temple films under Zanuck, "This was mid-Depression, and schemes proliferated for the care of the needy and the regeneration of the fallen. But they all required endless paperwork and demeaning, hours-long queues, at the end of which an exhausted, nettled social worker dealt with each person as a faceless number. Shirley offered a natural solution: to open one's heart." Edwards points out that the characters created for Temple would change the lives of the cold, the hardened, and even the criminal with positive results. Edwards quotes a nameless filmographer: "She assaults, penetrates, and opens the flinty characters making it possible for them to give of themselves. All of this returns upon her at times forcing her into situations where she must decide who needs her most. It is her agon, her cavalry, and it brings her to her most despairing moments ... Shirley's capacity for love ... was indiscriminate, extending to pinched misers or to common hobos, it was a social, even a political, force on a par with democracy or the Constitution." Temple films were seen as generating hope and optimism, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "It is a splendid thing that for just a fifteen cents an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles."
Most Temple films were cheaply made at $200,000 or $300,000 per picture and were comedy-dramas with songs and dances added, sentimental and melodramatic situations aplenty, and little in the way of production values. Her film titles are a clue to the way she was marketed—Curly Top and Dimples, and her "little" pictures such as The Little Colonel and The Littlest Rebel. Temple often played a fixer-upper, a precocious Cupid, or the good fairy in these films, reuniting her estranged parents or smoothing out the wrinkles in the romances of young couples. She was very often motherless, sometimes fatherless, and sometimes an orphan confined to a dreary asylum. Elements of the traditional fairy tale were woven into her films: wholesome goodness triumphing over meanness and evil, for example, or wealth over poverty, marriage over divorce, or a booming economy over a depressed one. As Temple matured into a pre-adolescent, the formula was altered slightly to encourage her naturalness, naïveté, and tomboyishness to come forth and shine while her infant innocence, which had served her well at six but was inappropriate for her tweens, was toned down.
At Zanuck's request, Temple's parents agreed to four films a year from their daughter (rather than the three they wished), and the child star's contract was reworked with bonuses to sweeten the deal. A succession of films followed: The Little Colonel, Our Little Girl, Curly Top, and The Littlest Rebel in 1935. Curly Top and The Littlest Rebel were named to Variety's list of top box office draws for 1935. In 1936, Captain January, Poor Little Rich Girl, Dimples, and Stowaway were released.
Based on Temple's many screen successes, Zanuck increased budgets and production values for her films. In 1937, John Ford was hired to direct the sepia-toned Wee Willie Winkie (Temple's own favorite) and an A-list cast was signed that included Victor McLaglen, C. Aubrey Smith, and Cesar Romero. The film was a critical and commercial hit, but British film critic Graham Greene muddied the waters in October 1937 when he wrote in a British magazine that Temple was a "complete totsy" and accused her of being too nubile for a nine-year-old:
Her admirers—middle-aged men and clergymen—respond to her dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed with enormous vitality, only because the safety curtain of story and dialogue drops between their intelligence and their desire.
Temple and Twentieth Century-Fox sued for libel and won. The settlement remained in trust for Temple in an English bank until she turned twenty-one, when it was donated to charity and used to build a youth center in England.
The only other Temple film released in 1937 was Heidi, which, according to Edwards, was a story suited to Temple's "slightly more mature personality". Edwards points out that Temple's hair had darkened and her ringlets brushed back into curls. Temple's theatrical instincts had sharpened, Edwards observes, and she suggested the Dutch song and dance dream sequence. After minor disagreements about the dance steps with the other children in the scene, director Allan Dwan had badges made reading 'Shirley Temple Police'. Every child was issued one after swearing allegiance and obedience to Temple. Shirley wore one reading 'Chief'.
In 1938, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway, and Just Around the Corner were released. The latter two were panned by the critics, and Corner was the first Temple film to show a slump in ticket sales. The following year, Zanuck secured the rights to the children's novel, A Little Princess, believing the book would be an ideal vehicle for Temple. He budgeted the film at $1.5 million (twice the amount of Corner) and chose it to be her first Technicolor feature. The Little Princess was a 1939 critical and commercial success with Temple's acting at its peak. Convinced Temple would successfully move from child star to teenage actress, Zanuck declined a substantial offer from MGM to star Temple as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and cast her instead in Susannah of the Mounties, her last money-maker for Twentieth Century-Fox. The film was lackluster and dropped Temple from number one box-office favorite in 1938 to number five in 1939.
In 1940, Temple starred in two consecutive flops at Twentieth Century-Fox, The Blue Bird and Young People, which was so weak it was often billed as the second feature in many theaters. It was obvious the child star's career was finished. Temple's parents bought up the remainder of her contract and sent her at the age of 12 to Westlake School for Girls, an exclusive country day school in Los Angeles. At the studio, Temple's bungalow was renovated, all traces of her tenure expunged, and the building reassigned as an office complex.
Within a year of her departure from Twentieth Century-Fox, MGM signed Temple for her comeback, and made plans to team her with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney for the Andy Hardy series. But her comeback film became Kathleen in 1941, a story about an unhappy teenager. The film was not a success and her MGM contract was cancelled after mutual consent. Miss Annie Rooney followed for United Artists in 1942, but it too was unsuccessful. The actress retired for almost two years from films, throwing herself into school life and activities.
In 1944, David O. Selznick signed Temple to a personal four-year contract. She appeared in two wartime hits for him: Since You Went Away and I'll Be Seeing You. Selznick however became involved with Jennifer Jones and lost interest in developing Temple's career. She was loaned to other studios with Kiss and Tell (1945, Columbia), The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947, RKO), and Fort Apache (1948, RKO) being her few good films at the time.
According to biographer Robert Windeler, her 1947–49 films neither made nor lost money, but "had a cheapie B look about them and indifferent performances from her". Selznick suggested she move abroad, gain maturity as an actress, and even change her name. She had been typecast, he warned her, and her career was in perilous straits. After auditioning for and losing the role of Peter Pan on the Broadway stage in August 1950, Temple took stock, admitted her recent movies had been poor fare, and announced her official retirement from films on December 16, 1950.
Many Temple-inspired products were manufactured and released during the 1930s. Ideal Toy and Novelty Company in New York City negotiated a license for dolls with the company's first doll wearing the polka-dot dress from Stand Up and Cheer!. Shirley Temple dolls realized $45 million in sales before 1941. A mug, a pitcher, and a cereal bowl in cobalt blue with a decal of Temple were given away as a premium with Wheaties.
Successfully-selling Temple items included a line of girls' dresses and accessories, soap, dishes, cutout books, sheet music, mirrors, paper tablets, and numerous other items. Before 1935 ended, Temple's income from licensed merchandise royalties would exceed $100,000, doubling her income from her movies. In 1936, her income would top $200,000 from royalties. She endorsed Postal Telegraph, Sperry Drifted Snow Flour, the Grunow Teledial radio, Quaker Puffed Wheat, General Electric, and Packard automobiles.
In 1943, Temple met John George Agar (1921–2002), an Army Air Corps sergeant, physical training instructor, and scion of a Chicago meat-packing family. On September 19, 1945, they were married before 500 guests in an Episcopal ceremony at Wilshire Methodist Church. On January 30, 1948, Temple gave birth to their daughter, Linda Susan. Agar became a professional actor and the couple made two films together: Fort Apache (1948, RKO) and Adventure in Baltimore (1949, RKO). The marriage became troubled, and Temple divorced Agar on December 5, 1949. She received custody of their daughter and the restoration of her maiden name. The divorce was finalized on December 5, 1950.
In January 1950, Temple met Charles Alden Black, a WWII United States Navy Silver Star hero and Assistant to the President of Hawaiian Pineapple. Conservative and patrician, he was the son of James B. Black, the president and later chairman of Pacific Gas and Electric, and reputedly one of the richest young men in California. Temple and Black were married in his parents' Del Monte, California home on December 16, 1950, before a small assembly of family and friends.
The family relocated to Washington, D.C. when Black was recalled to the Navy at the outbreak of the Korean War. Temple gave birth to their son, Charles Alden Black, Jr., in Washington, D.C. on April 28, 1952. Following war's end and Black's discharge from the Navy, the family returned to California in May 1953. Black managed television station KABC-TV in Los Angeles, and Temple became a homemaker. Their daughter Lori was born on April 9, 1954. In September 1954, Black became director of business operations for the Stanford Research Institute and the family moved to Atherton, California. The couple remained married until his death on August 4, 2005, at home in Woodside, California of complications from a bone marrow disease.
Between January and December 1958 Temple hosted and narrated a successful NBC television anthology series of fairy tale adaptations called Shirley Temple's Storybook. Temple acted in three of the sixteen hour-long episodes, and her children made their acting debuts in the Christmas episode, "Mother Goose". The series was popular but faced some problems. The show lacked the special effects necessary for fairy tale dramatizations, sets were amateurish, and episodes were telecast in no regular time-slot, making it difficult to generate a following. The show was reworked and released in color in September 1960 in a regular time-slot as The Shirley Temple Show (also known as Shirley Temple Theater). It faced stiff competition from a popular western and a Disney program however, and was cancelled at season's end in September 1961.
Temple continued to work on television, making guest appearances on The Red Skelton Show, Sing Along with Mitch, and other shows. In January 1965, she portrayed a social worker in a sitcom pilot called Go Fight City Hall that was never released. In 1999, she hosted the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars awards show on CBS, and, in 2001, served as a consultant on an ABC-TV production of her autobiography, Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story.
Motivated by the popularity of Storybook and television broadcasts of Temple's films, the Ideal Toy Company released a new version of the Shirley Temple doll and Random House published three fairy tale anthologies under Temple's name. Three hundred thousand dolls were sold within six months and 225,000 books between October and December 1958. Other merchandise included handbags and hats, coloring books, a toy theater, and a recreation of the Baby, Take a Bow polka-dot dress.
Following her venture into television, Temple became active in the Republican Party in California, where, in 1967, she ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in a special election to fill a vacant seat. She ran as a conservative and lost to liberal Republican Pete McCloskey, a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War.
In the autumn of 1972, Temple was diagnosed with breast cancer. The tumor was malignant and removed, and a modified radical mastectomy performed. Following the operation, she announced it to the world via radio, television, and a February 1973 article for the magazine McCall's. In doing so, she became one of the first prominent women to speak openly about breast cancer.
Temple was appointed Representative to the 24th General Assembly of the United Nations by President Richard M. Nixon (September - December 1969), and was appointed United States Ambassador to Ghana (December 6, 1974 – July 13, 1976) by President Gerald R. Ford. She was appointed first female Chief of Protocol of the United States (July 1, 1976 – January 21, 1977), and was in charge of arrangements for President Jimmy Carter's inauguration and inaugural ball. She served as the United States Ambassador to Czechoslovakia (August 23, 1989 – July 12, 1992), having been appointed by President George H. W. Bush.
Temple has served on numerous boards of directors of large enterprises and organizations including The Walt Disney Company, Del Monte, Bank of America, the Bank of California, BANCAL Tri-State, Fireman's Fund Insurance, the United States Commission for UNESCO, the United Nations Association, and the National Wildlife Federation.
Temple is the recipient of many awards and honors including a special Academy Award, the Life Achievement Award from the American Center of Films for Children, the National Board of Review Career Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors, and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. In 2002, a life-size bronze statue of the child Temple was erected on the Fox lot.
On March 14, 1935, Temple left her footprints and handprints in the wet cement at the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Charles Black, the San Francisco businessman she married after divorcing John Agar, admitted to her while they were courting that he had never seen any of her movies.
In recent years she openly admitted to a mastectomy operation, perhaps the first public figure ever to do so, and she encouraged other women who required the surgery to follow her example without fear.
Her daughter "Lorax" (Lori Black) was the bass player for the rock band The Melvins .
When she was to play the part of Beauty in a production of "Beauty and the Beast", she was amused when her then very young daughter remarked, "Gee, Mom, you'll make a swell Beast!".
She was supposed to play Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939), but 20th Century Fox refused to lend her to MGM, so Judy Garland was cast in the role.
When she was seven years old, her life was insured with Lloyd's of London, and the contract stipulated that no benefits would be paid if the child film star met with death or injury while intoxicated.
Has three children: Linda Susan Agar, whom Charles Black later adopted, (b. January 30, 1948), Charles Alden Black Jr. "Charlie" (born in Bethesda, Maryland, April 24, 1952) and Lori Alden Black (b. April 9, 1954). Both daughters were born in Santa Monica, California, at the same hospital, not to mention delivered by the same doctor, as Shirley had been years before.
Her mother, Gertrude Temple, did her hair in pin curls for each movie. Every hairstyle had exactly 56 curls.
Became a Dame of Malta, although NOT from the officially recognized Roman Catholic order -- but rather from a non-Roman Catholic unaffiliated entity.
Actresses Shirley Jones and Shirley MacLaine were both named after her.
She learned her trade at Meglin's, a popular talent school. Judy Garland was once a fellow "Meglin Kiddie".
From the late 1960s onward she was increasingly active in Republican Party politics. She served as U.S. ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia and held other government-related positions.
Appears on sleeve of The Beatles's "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".
Measurements: 35-24-35 (as an adult), (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)
Auditioned twice to be in "Our Gang" / "The Little Rascals." She apparently failed the first audition, and made the second while she was appearing in the "Baby Burlesks" series. "Our Gang" director Robert F. McGowan refused to agree to Shirley's mother's request that Shirley receive star billing with "Our Gang," so she didn't get in.
Briefly considered for the role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939), but it was determined that her singing limitations were "insurmountable," and Judy Garland, MGM's first choice, was cast instead.
She was voted the 38th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
When she was a teenager her bodyguard was Louis Dean Palmer, who she called "Palmtree".
At age six she became the youngest person ever to be presented with an Oscar.
2005: Premiere Magazine ranked her as #33 on a list of the Greatest Movie Stars of All Time in their Stars in Our Constellation feature.
Was named #18 Actress, The American Film Institutes 50 Greatest Screen Legends
According to author Garry Wills in "John Wayne's America", director John Ford had serious issues with women, which carried over onto his sets. When he made Wee Willie Winkie (1937) with Shirley, she was a child as well as the top box office star in America and he treated her well. When she was cast in Fort Apache (1948), she was a young woman and he did not. Like her role in Wee Willie Winkie (1937), she played the "cute but unmanageable troublemaker at the post" who is befriended by and relies on an avuncular sergeant, both times played by Victor McLaglen. McLaglen had been blackballed by Ford for the previous seven years, but was brought back into the Ford stock company with this film. When Ford met Shirley, whose husband John Agar he had also cast in the picture, he rudely asked her, "Now where did you go to school, Shirley? Did you graduate?".
Is portrayed by Ashley Rose and by Emily Hart in Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story (2001) (TV)
Second husband Charles Black was a businessman and maritime issues consultant. He served on a Commerce Department advisory committee and several National Research Council panels. He also co-founded a Massachusetts-based company that developed unmanned deep-ocean search and survey imaging systems. He died of bone marrow disease at age 86. It had been diagnosed three years earlier.
She calls it corny but she admitted that she fell in love with Charles Black at first sight. They met while she was in Honolulu. He was working for a shipping company there at the time.
She presented Walt Disney with his special Academy Award for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). It was a standard-sized Oscar with seven little Oscars.
11/1/06: She broke her wrist in a fall at her northern California home.
At the age of 6, she was the youngest presenter at the Oscars ever. She presented the "Best Actress" award in 1935. The winner was Claudette Colbert.
1936: She received a new contract from 20th Century-Fox, retroactive on September 9, paying her over $50,000 per film.
A soft cocktail - Shirley Temple - was created in her honor consisting of, Ginger Ale (or 7-Up), Grenadine and Orange Juice, topped with a Maraschino Cherry and a slice of lemon.
In a 1988 interview with Larry King, she stated that out of the $3 million she generated for 20th Century Fox she only saw $45,000 in her trust fund.
A close friend and supporter of Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
A vocal supporter of the Vietnam War, when running for Congress as a Republican in 1967 Temple consistently argued that the US needed to send more troops to South East Asia.
Her childhood home is located at 231 Rockingham Avenue, Brentwood, California.
While her first daughter was delivered naturally, her son and her second daughter Lori were delivered by Cesarean.
Was pregnant with daughter Linda Susan "Susie" Agar (later changed to Black), during the filming of That Hagen Girl (1947).
Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 1500 Vine Street.
When Gary Cooper first met Shirley Temple on the set of their movie Now and Forever (1934) he asked for her autograph.
Mother, with John Agar, of daughter Linda Susan Agar (born on January 30, 1948).
Mother, with Charles Black, of son Charles Black Jr. (born on April 28, 1952) and daughter Lori Black (born on April 9, 1954).