By Caliesha Comley
Shirley Temple Black, arguably the most popular child star of all time, died Feb. 10 in her home in Woodside, Ca. at age 85. Temple’s career was filled with Hollywood stardom and political activism.
In the 1930s, Black sang, acted and danced her way to stardom, becoming the top box-office feature from 1935-1939. Her list of accomplishments includes making over 40 movies before reaching age 12, winning an honorary Academy Award at age six, and saving what would become 20th Century Fox studios from bankruptcy.
Black also received Kennedy Center Honors and a Screen Actor’s Guild Life Achievement award, and currently is ranked 18th on the American Film Institute’s list of Greatest Female Screen legends.
Yet her most noted success was brightening American spirits amidst the Great Depression. She is forever famed as “America’s Darling” due to her formulaic film roles as an optimistic and precocious young girl who arrived to make troubles melt. Black starred in numerous notable films, including “Bright Eyes,” “Heidi” and “Curly Top.”
Black’s Hollywood reign slowly came to an end as she reached adolescence, and she officially left the industry in 1950 at the age of 22. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Black returned to show business for short television series and guest appearances.
Black held seats on multiple corporation boards including The Walt Disney Company, Del Monte Foods, Bank of America, National Wildlife Federation and the United Nations Association.
The child star also enjoyed a prolific political career after leaving the film industry. She became active in the Republican Party in California, and in 1967 lost a special election Congress race in the same state.
In 1967, Black was appointed to the 24th United Nations General Assembly by President Richard Nixon. In the years to follow, Black was the United States Ambassador to both Ghana (1974-1976) and Czechoslovakia (1989-1992), as well as the first female appointed as Chief of Protocol of the United States in 1976.
In 1972, Temple was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a radical mastectomy. The following year, she became first among prominent female stars to talk openly about breast cancer.
This past Monday, Black passed from natural causes in her home surrounded by family and caregivers. She is survived by three children, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.