Shirley (23 April, 1928 – 10 Feb., 2014) was a box office sensation during one of the great ages of film, and an inspiration to millions during the Depression. She was not just a child star, but a sensation - a huge part of America's hope during a dark difficult time. President Roosevelt said: "As long as we have Shirley Temple, we'll be all right." That was a feeling widely shared.
Among her hits were Curly Top, Stowaway, The Littlest Colonel and The Littlest Rebel. In the latter two, she danced with the great Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, at a time when inter-racial teamings were unheard of in Hollywood.
Fans counted the curls in her hair (56), and merchandisers cashed in with Shirley Temple dolls and cobalt-blue Shirley Temple dish sets. There was even a Shirley Temple drink (a nonalcoholic concoction of ginger ale and grenadine with a cherry on top).
By the end of the 1930s, as her popularity began to fade, there was talk of her playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, but 20th Century Fox refused to lend her out and so Judy Garland got the job.
Temple retired from entertainment in the early 1960s to raise a family. In 1967, she unsuccessfully ran for Congress. In 1969, Prez Richard Nixon appointed her a member of the US delegation to the UN General Assembly. In the 1970s, she was US ambassador to Ghana and later US Chief of Protocol. She then served as US ambassador to Czechoslovakia under Prez George Bush.
In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Ms Temple at No.18 among the Top 25 Legendary Actresses. In 2006, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild.
Shirley Temple is a rare case of a performer who outlived the vast bulk of her audience. But at the height of her popularity in the '30s, there was nothing like her.