Iconic Child Star & Honorary Oscar Winner Shirley Temple Dies at 85
Following the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, another iconic star from decades past has left this world. The New York Times reports former child star Shirley Temple has passed away at her home in Califorinia due to natural causes at age 85 years old. Temple's career began at the tender age of three in 1931, but she became a big screen sensation after starring in Bright Eyes, which featured the adorable actress in the memorable musical number "The Good Ship Lollipop." For the next fours years she would become the top box office draw and is credited with helping save 20th Century Fox from bankruptcy during The Depression.
The actress' publicist released a statement saying, "She was surrounded by her family and caregivers. 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." Given the nickname of America's Little Darling, Temple was an adored child star who despite never being nominated for an Academy Award, received a special juvenile Oscars in 1934 when she was just six years old. In her heyday, Temple received more mail than Greta Garbo and was photographed more often than President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Here's SAG's tribute to Shirley Temple when she received a Lifetime Achievement awards in 2006:
Temple was featured in in 14 short films, 43 feature films and 25 storybook movies in 30-year career that spanned from 1931 to 1961. Some of the most famous titles from her younger days include Curly Top, Heidi, Little Miss Marker, The Little Colonel and Stand Up and Cheer! As she grew up, Temple also shared the screen with the likes of Cary Grant in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer and John Wayne and Henry Fonda in Fort Apache. But at age 22 in 1950, Temple decided to step away from acting, only to make a return to the spotlight in 1958 with a two-season TV series of fairy tale adaptations. From then on she had numerous guest appearances on TV in the 60s.
But she wasn't just known for her big screen exploits as she aged. Temple was appointed as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly by President Richard M. Nixon in 1969 and she became the United States ambassador to Ghana from 1974 to 1976, not to mention becoming President Gerald R. Ford’s chief of protocol in 1976 and 1977, and President George H. W. Bush’s ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989. All that accompanies accolades from Kennedy Center Honors, National Board of Review and the Screen Actors Guild, who all gave her lifetime achievement awards.
And while Temple died of natural causes, back in 1972, the actress has her left breast removed when she was diagnosed with cancer. But rather than keeping it secret, as was the custom during that time, she held a news conference to tell the world about her operation, and urged women to be aware of their bodies by constantly getting checked out for breast lumps and to never "sit home and be afraid.” Temple leaves behind an incredible legacy that began on the big screen, but expanded into world affairs and contemporary society. She will be missed by generations of fans, and our thoughts go out to her friends and family. Rest in peace.