Sad news this morning: Shirley Temple Black, the singing and dancing screen legend who paved the way for all child stars, has passed away in her home near San Francisco, at 85 years old.
During her career, which she began at just 3 years old, the multi-talented Shirley reigned in the box offices from 1935-1938, entertaining American movie audiences through the Depression with her films — most notably, Curly Top and The Little Princess.
Later, she retired at 21 to raise a family with husband Charles Black, who she was married to for over 50 years until he died a few months ago. She also became very active in politics, serving as an ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989.
“She was just absolutely marvelous, greatest in the world,” filmmaker Allan Dwan, who directed Shirley in both Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Heidi, has said. “With Shirley, you’d just tell her once and she’d remember the rest of her life. Whatever it was she was supposed to do, she’d do it … and if one of the actors got stuck, she’d tell him what his line was. She knew it better than he did.”
Shirley was most recently honored in 2006 by the Screen Actors Guild.
“I have one piece of advice for those of you who want to receive the lifetime achievement award,” she said. “Start early.”