Shirley Temple was the most popular box-office draw in Hollywood for the majority of the decade. She is most famous for her heartwarming musical films. She was one of the most iconic child stars of the 1930s internationally and a well-liked American actress and public figure known as Shirley Jane Temple.
Begin in Hollywood and pursue a career as a young performer
She began appearing in one-reel comedy series called Burlesks Baby, where the adult roles in the cast were played by children.
Shirley Temple was one of the top Hollywood stars in 1934, receiving a special Academy Award for her contribution to the entertainment industry. Despite the difficult times of the Great Depression, her optimistic films managed to provide a welcome escape. With her blond ringlets and dimples, she was seen as a spirited singer and dancer. Her popularity was a response to the challenging era. In 1934, she also saved Fox Film Corporation from going bankrupt, which is widely believed. One of her most popular tracks was “On the Good Ship Lollipop.” This musical was specifically made for Shirley Temple, who frequently played the role of an orphan. It was actually “Bright Eyes” that propelled her to stardom.
The doll that resembled her and a non-alcoholic drink named after her were created due to her immense popularity. During this period, she starred in several successful films such as “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” in 1938, “Heidi” in 1937, “Wee Willie Winkie” in 1937, “Curly Top” in 1935, the first of many musicals featuring Bill Robinson, and “The Little Colonel” in 1935. Shirley Temple maintained this honor until 1938 and became the leading box-office draw in Hollywood in 1935.
In 1960, Shirley Temple’s successful-less show, “The Shirley Temple Show,” ended after a popular run from 1957 to 1959. However, she would later make a brief return to television entertainment. In 1949, she starred in her last feature film, “Kiss and Tell,” after launching her own acting career with appearances in “That Hagen Girl” in 1949 and “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer” in 1947. At the age of 17, in 1945, Shirley Temple married John Agar, who also decided to pursue his own acting career. Unfortunately, she was dropped by 20th Century Fox in 1940 after failing to attract a decent audience with “The Blue Bird.” Her popularity started to wane by the end of the 1930s, following the success of her big hit, “The Little Princess” in 1939.
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In 1949, following the end of her marriage, she wed businessman Charles A. Black in 1950. As Shirley Temple Black, she would become engaged in community matters and Republican politics. In 1967, she made an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Between 1969 and 1970, she held a position as a representative at the UN General Assembly. Being one of the early celebrities to publicly acknowledge this disease, she received a diagnosis of breast cancer in 1972. From 1974 to 1976, she fulfilled the role of U.S. Ambassador to Ghana. Serving as chief protocol for U.S. Pres. Gerald Ford, she held the position from 1976 to 1977. Additionally, in 1981, she participated as a member of the U.S. Delegation on African Refugee Problems. From 1989 to 1992, she served as an ambassador to Czechoslovakia. As the 21st century commenced, she continued to actively engage in international affairs, holding positions on the board of directors for the Association for Diplomatic Studies and the National Committee on U.S.-China relations, among various other organizations.
In 1998, she received the Honor Centre Kennedy in recognition of her distinguished public service and illustrious career. In 2005, the Screen Actors Guild presented her with a lifetime achievement award. Her autobiographies include “Star Child” in 1988 and “Life Young My” in 1945.
Shirley Temple, a renowned American film and TV actress, dancer, singer, author, and diplomat, unfortunately passed away on February 10th, 2014, at the age of 85 in Woodside, California. Taking inflation into account, her earnings of $3 million as a child actor before the age of 14 would amount to approximately $34 million today. Her fame rose significantly when she earned over $1,250 per week, equivalent to around $22,000 today, making her the talk of the town. In the year she starred in “Stand Up and Cheer!”, She secured the role that would catapult her career. She signed a contract with Fox Films at the tender age of 6 in 1934. Even as a young teenager, she ranked among the highest-paid actors worldwide. At the time of her passing, her net worth was estimated to be around $30 million.
Shirley would eventually appear in dozens of movies, most notably “Dimples”, “Heidi”, “Poor Little Rich Girl”, “Rebel”, “The Littlest Rebel”, “Top”, “Curly Top”, and “Our Little Girl”, which were the highest grossing movies in the years they were released. The song “Good Ship Lollipop” alone sold 500,000 copies of the sheet music. This movie, “Bright Eyes”, was specifically written for her and featured her trademark singing abilities. She achieved superstar status after the release of “Bright Eyes”.
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Bank of America and The Walt Disney Company, along with Del Monte, were among the many corporations she served on the boards of during her lifetime. Additionally, she held the positions of ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. In 1967, she made a bid for Congress but was unsuccessful.
Shirley Temple’s Childhood
In Los Angeles, she registered at Meglin’s Dance School at the tender age of three, under the encouragement of her mother to nurture her skills in both dancing and singing. Her mother was a housewife, while her father pursued a career in banking. Additionally, she had two elder brothers who were raised in Brentwood, Los Angeles. With a heritage comprising of Anglican, Dutch, and German roots, Shirley Temple came into the world on April 23rd, 1928, in Santa Monica, California.
She was invited to audition for the studio after being spotted by a casting director for Educational Pictures while she was participating in a dance at her school. By this time, she had already adopted her signature ringlets. In 1932, she signed a contract and got promoted to perform comedy skits satirizing popular shows and movies, essentially featuring only 10-minute comedic performances for pre-schoolers, in the “Burlesks” Baby.
In 1993, she got an uncredited role in the film “Last Man” and worked with Tower Productions for a small role in their feature film. She also signed with Educational Pictures in the same year. Today, her mother, who is a hairdresser, received a salary of $25 per week, which would be equivalent to over $500 in modern times. Additionally, she was hired as a hairdresser and received a salary of $150 per week, which would be equivalent to over $3,000 in modern times.
“The Little Rebel”, “Our Little Girl”, “Curly Top”, and “The Little Colonel” were given prominent roles, even for a 7-year-old with a hectic timetable. She attained leading roles in the family comedy “Bright Eyes” and the comedic musical “Baby Take a Bow”, as the significance of her roles gradually escalated over the subsequent years. Her breakthrough role ultimately came in the Fox Film musical “Stand Up and Cheer”, in which she was cast in 1934.
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Today, she would receive nearly $500,000 as an additional salary increase of $2,500 per week, while also being honored with a juvenile Oscar for her remarkable performances in movies. In 1935, she became the first young performer to have her likeness used without her consent. Her lawyer began sending cease and desist letters to individuals who were using her image on various commercial products without providing any compensation. In today’s currency, Shirley Temple was earning $1,000 weekly, which is approximately $295,000 annually, while also making $15,000, a feat that her parents had sought legal assistance to achieve. The triumph of goodness prevailing over evil was a recurring theme in her roles. Her salary increased alongside her growing popularity and she often portrayed a precocious and comical character with fairy-like qualities. She also frequently took on roles where she resolved conflicts among adults, appearing in numerous family-friendly movies and musicals during her time as a child actress.
Shirley Temple during the late 1930s and 1940s
In 1940, she starred in two unsuccessful commercial movies with the fantasy film “The Blue Bird” and musical drama “Young People”. This marked her debut in Technicolor films and it received positive reviews and was commercially successful. Following that, her next significant role came in 1939 with “The Little Princess”, a film adaptation of the book with the same title. In 1937, she successfully secured a leading role in the Academy Award nominated film “Wee Willie Winkle”. By the late 1930s, she had already become a widely recognized figure in popular culture, with her name and image being everywhere.
In 1950, she declared her intention to retire from the acting industry despite the triumph of her films, her level of fame had significantly declined. After resuming her acting career in 1944, she achieved critical and commercial success with war movies like “Since You Went Away” and “I’ll Be Seeing You”. In 1942, she briefly took a hiatus from acting, resulting in her absence from any major box office hits, but she then briefly signed with MGM. In Los Angeles, her parents made the decision to terminate her existing contract and enrolled her in Westlake School for Girls when she reached the age of twelve.
Shirley Temple and Participation in Additional Projects
Between 1958 and 1961, she assumed the role of the host and storyteller for the NBC fairytale compilation series “Shirley Temple’s Storybook” despite her absence from the big screen. During that period, financial limitations prevented the incorporation of the required visual enhancements to match the standards set by other widely watched anthology programs. Nevertheless, the series garnered immense praise from both viewers and reviewers.
From 1989 to 1992, she served as the U.S. Ambassador for Czechoslovakia after being designated under the George H.W. Bush administration. As the first female head of Protocol in 1976, she provided guidance to President Carter on national and international diplomatic protocol. In 1974, Gerald Ford appointed her as a U.S. Ambassador to Ghana. After her attempt and unexpected encounter with Henry Kissinger at a party, she was selected as a delegate to the UN by Nixon in 1969. Even in her adulthood, she maintained an active presence in the California Republican Party, including an unsuccessful bid for Congress in the 1967 special election for the 11th congressional district.
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Private life and tragic demise
Temple Shirley, who was married to former Naval Intelligence officer Aiden Charles Black, died on February 10th, 2014 at Alta Mesa Memorial Park. She was buried there after succumbing to complications of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Temple and Aiden were married for fifty-four years until his death in 2005. The couple had two children together. Before divorcing in 1949, they had a daughter. Temple Shirley married John Agar, an Army Air Corps Sergeant, in 1948.
Property and alternative holdings
Shirley Temple’s house had a value of approximately $5 million at the time of her tragic demise. Throughout the years leading up to her passing, Shirley Temple resided in Woodside, California.