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Republican Fundraiser, Diplomat, Celebrity Cherub Shirley Temple Black Dies at 85

Flowers and a stuffed animal are left at the hand and foot prints of Shirley Temple Black at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Temple, who died Monday night at 85, sang, danced, sobbed and grinned her way into the hearts of Depression-era moviegoers and remains the ultimate child star decades later. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)


She had many lives, but before becoming the most famous and photographed American, child actor phenom Shirley Temple was locked in a box and forced to sit on a block of ice.

This is from the New York Times obituary, which recounts Temple’s film career before she became famous:

When any of the two dozen children in “Baby Burlesks” misbehaved, they were locked in a windowless sound box with only a block of ice on which to sit. “So far as I can tell, the black box did no lasting damage to my psyche,” Mrs. Black wrote in “Child Star.” “Its lesson of life, however, was profound and unforgettable. Time is money. Wasted time means wasted money means trouble.”

On screen, Temple was as sweet and sparkly as her eponymous drink, a character who lifted America’s spirits during the Depression. Where most Hollywood actresses have to contend with brutally unfair age barriers, Temple’s case took such matters to an extreme. She retired at 22.

But, as many know, she would go on to be a big mover and shaker in the Republican Party, helping to raise money and elect candidates. Ultimately she was sent as a diplomat to the United Nations, Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

She was also a victim of breast cancer and encouraged women to overcome the illness’ stigma.

Doubtlessly, she will be remembered always as that sweet little girl.

As film writer Carrie Rickey remembers:

Lower the flags on the Good Ship Lollipop to half mast and savor her dry humor: “I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.”

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

Peter Z. Scheer
Managing Editor
Peter Scheer grew up in the newspaper business, spending family vacations with his mother at newspaper editors' conferences, enjoying daycare in editorial departments and begrudgingly reviewing his father's…
Peter Z. Scheer

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