February 11th, 2014

RIP: Shirley Temple Black

By the time Shirley Temple Black died at 85 last night we had come to take her extraordinary life for granted.

Child star? How about: the most popular and unquestionably talented child star ever, who made people happy during the Depression, and managed to grow up sane despite her mega-popularity?

Sane? How about: happily married for 54 years (after one quick first marriage at age 17), three kids and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren who loved her?

Not enough? How about: diplomat and UN representative, ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia, Chief of Protocol, conservative Republican?

And then there’s: one of the first breast cancer survivors to publicize that fact for the purposes of public education.

Not cute as a button—much, much cuter—she was known not only for her incredibly precocious singing and dancing (some people were initially convinced she was a midget) but for her relentless good cheer. That good cheer seems to have stood her in good stead for the rest of her long and fruitful life.

No tribute to Shirley Temple Black could possibly be complete without at least one film clip. Which to choose? You almost can’t go wrong, but I’ll put up this one because it’s a sampler (beginning when Shirley was around 3, I believe):

[NOTE: I wrote about Shirley Temple's hair recently, here.]

18 Responses to “RIP: Shirley Temple Black”

  1. aloysius Says:

    Not to mention the fact that she is pictured three times (THREE!) on the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album.

  2. Mr. Frank Says:

    She was a great American who brought joy to millions during trying times.

  3. Government Drone Says:

    This is simply the most unmitigated sad news I’ve heard this year so far. She always struck me as what a good role model an actor/celebrity ought to be; a good example in life & work. That & her natural good cheer means we have lost something very good in this world.

  4. vanderleun Says:

    What a life!

  5. vanderleun Says:

    “On the good ship
    its a sweet trip
    to the candy shop
    where bon-bon’s play,
    on the sunny beach
    of peppermint bay
    Lemonade stands,
    crackerjack bands,
    fill the air,
    and there you are,
    happy landings on a chocolate bar.”

  6. Director Mitch Says:

    I actually thought she was already dead so was surprised when I read the news this morning. (But I can’t I would ever be “sad” at someone in their 80s, who lead a remarkable, rewarding life, dying. It’s the fate of everyone.)

    More than a couple of times a year I have to consult “dead or alive” websites since there are always people that I thought were dead who weren’t, or the other way around. They are always previously famous people from my parent’s generation (which this falls under).

  7. Ray Says:

    I still enjoy her movies. But then, I still enjoy The Wizard of Oz with the young Judy Garland.

  8. parker Says:

    RIP Shirley, you were a real star on the screen and in life.

  9. Beverly Says:

    I remember reading that Bill “Bojangles” Robinson said she was the best darn dancer: he only had to show her a tap sequence once, and she would imitate it, flawlessly.

    I was sad to hear she’s gone. One year younger than my dad. :-(((

  10. kit Says:

    Lovely lady and the most talented child actor. And those adorable dimples. Very special!

    Sad news.

  11. DNW Says:

    While shopping for DVDs of old movies [mostly 1950's] largely to amuse the folks, I read up online about a few of the old time Hollywood stars. Mostly, in order to see if their filmographies gave me any good ideas for additional purchases.

    One remark I came across somewhere was that Kirk Douglas, I think it was, was the last surviving so-called “golden era of Hollywood” star.

    As of 6 months or so ago there were several females of that era still alive as well. One of whom was the pretty much overlooked Eleanor Parker. You might have seen her as a kid on TV. You know, as that really good looking chick playing the mail order bride in the bizarrely entertaining Heston potboiler about rampaging “marabunta” down in the Amazon jungle?

    Anyway, I had completely forgotten about Shirley Temple. I thought she had passed on a decade or more ago. She’s not only a 1940′s or early 50′s star, but one dating back to the 1930′s.

    It doesn’t seem possible for anyone else appearing in movies in the 1930′s to still be alive … unless it was some infant used for a cradle shot, or a child extra.

  12. expat Says:

    She was truly incredible. I hope the do a lot of reruns of her works so that today’s kids get a glimpse of what childhood can be.

  13. Charles Says:

    And let’s not forget Kudos to her parents; parents who were PARENTS to their children instead of seeing Shirley as a lottery ticket to be used for all she was worth.

    For all Shirley Temple’s success I do believe that her parents (especially her mother) deserve a lot of credit for raising a wonderful daughter.

    Beside, Shirley Temple has a fun, tasty drink named after her!

  14. Tonawanda Says:

    Ok this eliminates one distinct possibility.

    Neo is not Shirley Temple posing as a much younger woman.

  15. J.J. Says:

    Shirley Temple was a staple of my childhood. Was always impressed with the way she transitioned form Hollywood to “real life.”

    May her family be comforted in this time of loss by an outpouring of admiration and love from all her many fans. RIP.

  16. Eric Says:


    I’m Gen-X but great is great. The iconic child star Shirley Temple impressed as much in the late 20th century as she did in the early 20th century.

    The transition from child star to grown-up star in Hollywood has always been an unlikely leap, then and now, and it’s too bad in her case.

    In her last films, Temple was a pretty – and sexy – young woman. Perhaps because I’m not as fixed on her child image as audiences were at the time, I would like to have seen more from Temple as a grown-up actress. But her transition to grown-up actress was cut short before it could play out.

  17. Ira Says:

    “some people were initially convinced she was a midget”

    Well, apparently she had an adult mind her whole life. An amazing person.

  18. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

    I am very fond of The Little Princess: Shirley Temple, backed up by Cesar Romero, and Arthur Treacher! It can’t lose!

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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