She was “Our Little Girl” and America’s sweetheart during the Great Depression. Shirley’s movies brought hope and joy to the nation during this period of struggle against poverty and helplessness.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt even spoke about how her laughter and presence on screen improved the outlook of the nation.
In the 1930’s, this sweet little lady charmed and enchanted an entire nation with her innocence. She had quite the following of fans, but how many of these facts do you know?
Just A Kid:
In 1931, she was only 3 years old when her mother signed her up for classes at Mrs. Meglin’s Dance Studio in Los Angeles. Two film producers saw her potential and hired her to star in a parody film called Baby Burlesks.
Young Advocate For Mental Health
Franklin D. Roosevelt publicly complimented Shirley’s acting as being a major source of strength and encouragement for the country during The Great Depression. He called her “Little Miss Miracle” for her ability to boost public morale:
“As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right… When the spirit of the people is lower than at any other time during this Depression, it is a splendid thing that for just 15 cents, an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles.”
43 Films By 13
Since films took much less time to produce in the ’30s than they do now, young Shirley was acting in as many as four films a year. By the time she was 12 years old, Shirley had acted in 43 films.
Before adulthood, Shirley had earned over $3 million USD from acting. Adjusting for inflation, that would be the equivalent of over $50 million USD today.
Shirley’s first marriage was to fellow actor, John Agar Jr. in 1945. She was just 17 and he was 24 at the time. The couple had a daughter named Linda Susan before they were divorced in 1949.
She remarried Charles Alden Black, a WW2 US Navy intelligence officer and Silver Star recipient in 1950. They had two children: son, Charles Jr., and daughter, Lori. The couple remained married for 54 years until his death from bone marrow disease.
Her decision to retire from motion pictures at a young age opened up opportunities for her to lend her fame to the United Nations. Her government career included:
- 1969–1970: U.S. delegate to the U.N. General Assembly
- 1974: Ambassador to Ghana
- 1976-1977: Chief of Protocol for the U.S.
- 1988: Honorary U.S. Foreign Service officer
- 1989-1992: Ambassador to Czechoslovakia
Breast Cancer Advocate
In 1972, Shirley did something most women in America couldn’t – she talked about breast cancer. At the time, the disease was considered a private issue not to be discussed publicly, but when Shirley called a press conference from her hospital bed, she blew the lid off of that old taboo.
She publicly announced that she was recovering from a mastectomy and encouraged women to get tested:
“The only reason I am telling you this is to convince other women to watch for any lump or unusual symptom. There is almost certain cure for this cancer if it is caught early enough.”
Shirley Temple died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a lung disease, on February 10, 2014 at 85 years old.
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