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Remembering America’s “little darling”

by EMILY SZPAK Social Media Coordinator

America recently bid farewell to its arguably most famous child star, Shirley Temple Black. Temple died of natural causes in her California home, surrounded by family and caregivers, peacefully on February 10, 2014 at 85 years old.

America looks back on her childhood, which has affected millions of people and the industry itself. Rather than mourning her loss, we should reflect on the lives she affected and all she accomplished before the age of 10.

Temple was born April 23, 1928 and was a film/television actress, singer and dancer out the womb. She began at the age of three as a result of her mother, who was also a performer. She earned a whopping 50k per movie, and back in the day, that was astonishing.

Her famous ringlets and dimples lit up the screens and were recognized by millions. Her curls were popular with little girls from the 1930s all the way to the 70s.

Temple was first noticed as one of the “baby burlesks” in the series of short films. There, she became a breakthrough star. The talented toddler was famous.

She spent 18 years singing and dancing her way through fame. She modeled many cereal commercials and played little parts in films after her first recognizable debut in “baby burlesks”.

“When someone says her name, I automatically sing ‘animal crackers in my soup!’ She was a doll”, says sophomore Emily Sommer.

Temple became international in her debut of ‘Bright Eyes’ in 1934, showcasing her many talents at 5 years old. Her famous song “On the good ship lollipop” sold  50 thousand sheet music copies. The film got her a special juvenile academy award, and led to more films like ‘Curly Top’ the following year.

Temple was a hit. Fox Films Corporation could see her talents and raised her salary to $1,250 a week. She became the first child star to be awarded a juvenile Oscar.

When Fox and Twentieth-Century merged, Temple, having four recent films, was the one of the main priorities. In fact, there was a group of 19 writers called the Shirley Temple story development team.

However, times were hard when the Depression hit. Temple spread her love and hope throughout the country, though. She cared about others and radiated optimism. President FDR even said, “It is a splendid thing that for just fifteen cents an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles.”

However, as Temple became a preteen, the baby innocence had to be dulled down in order to mature her career.

When Temple was 15, she met her husband. At 17, the two got married in front of 500 people in 1943. In 1948, Temple gave birth to her first child, a baby girl. A year later, she was divorced, received custody of her daughter, and restored her maiden name.

Temple later married Charles Alden Black, the couple had two children, and were married 54 years until he died in 2005.

Despite her musical career, Temple aspired to politics. She was active in the Republican party is California, and ran for California’s 11th Congressional district but did not win. However, in later years, she served as ambassador of Ghana and Czechoslovakia, appointed by Gerald Ford and George H. Bush, respectively.

“Shirley Temple is an inspiration, she was my grandmother’s favorite. I hope her legacy never dies,” says junior Nicole Cohen.

Temple made a name for herself, and was an inspiration to America. Her smile stole the hearts of millions, and never failed to bring smiles to her audience. Her natural-born talent will never be forgotten by the country who birthed her fame. She will never be forgotten by the industry she changed forever, as a toddler.

America’s baby doll will be missed dearly, and left a permanent mark on everything she touched with her smile.

What is your fondest memory of Shirley Temple?

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