Shirley Temple sang and danced her way to become one of the most popular child actors of all time, helping to cheer up the millions of Americans who were in economic trouble during the Great Depression. Although still a child, she was the top box office draw for several years in the mid-1930s, before growing up to be a diplomat.
Google celebrated the iconic child star with an animated Doodle on Wednesday, marking the anniversary of the 2015 date the history museum in her hometown of Santa Monica, California, Love, Shirley Temple opened a special exhibit featuring a collection of her rare memorabilia.
Temple was born in 1928 and was encouraged by her mother to dance, sing and act at a young age. She started dance training when she was just 3 and two years later she rose to international fame for her performance in Bright Eyes, a film in which she sang the upcoming hit On the Good Ship Lollipop.
Shirley Temple circa 1935.
The wrinkled and curly mop was typically cast as the merry fix-it girl in musical comedy dramas written just for her. Hollywood recognized her popularity and gave Temple a miniature, honorary Academy Award when she was six.
She would make more than 40 films, most of them before she was 12, singing and tap dancing with a variety of well-known partners. Her most successful collaboration was with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, a black entertainer who was 50 years her senior. Together, they made four films, including the 1935 Civil War saga The Littlest Rebel and 1935 The Little Colonel, which featured the couple’s famous tap dance scene and Temple matching Robinson step by step.
She continued to make films into her late teens, including 1945’s Kiss and Tell and 1947’s The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, in which her character falls in love with Cary Grant. But her success as a child actor fell through as she grew into a young adult, with movie audiences unwilling to accept her in more mature roles, and she retired from the company at age 22.
She would return to the spotlight after marrying businessman Charles Black in 1950 and became a prominent Republican fundraiser after adopting her new name Shirley Temple Black. Her interest in politics was sparked when her husband rejoined the military during the Korean War and worked as an intelligence officer in Washington.
After a failed bid for Congress in 1967, Temple was appointed as a delegate to the United Nations two years later by President Richard Nixon. She would go on to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, President Gerald Ford’s protocol chief and President George HW Bush’s ambassador to Czechoslovakia.
For her services in government and entertainment, Temple has received many awards and honors, including Kennedy Center Honors and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.
Temple died in 2014 at the age of 85.