Shirley Temple, the ‘goldilocks’ and ‘little miss miracle’ of cinema who became a US diplomat

Shirley Temple embodied in her childhood the prototype of what we now call broken toy: fame that annuls childhood, parents who run an unknown business, exorbitant economic income that disappears, interests of all and for all, use until slavery … and a career that little by little fades as the years go by and the A girl becomes a teenager, then a young man, and finally a woman.

Natural beauty, self-confidence, devilish curly hair, striking dimples, and tap dancing skills almost at the same time she learned to walk made Shirley Temple the most successful child actress in movie history for her skills. But that fame also caused her a lot of pain in that rushed life within a childhood that she did not enjoy like other girls her age. For example, on one of his birthdays he received 135,000 toys from all over the world (including a baby kangaroo and a cow), but he also suffered an assassination attempt or the disappointment of stopping believing in Santa Claus when he asked for an autograph …

However, despite what at first glance may seem like a traumatic childhood on a roller coaster of experiences, Shirley always brought her movie roles to real life to please and make everyone feel good. She enjoyed her new life in adulthood as a mother, wife, and later as a grandmother, and began a new career dedicated to public service as a political activist. In this new facet, she held different positions in the diplomatic area such as defender of the Environment in the United Nations, ambassador of Ghana and the former Czechoslovakia and, finally, as head of Protocol of the United States in the White House. Without a doubt, a movie life in which only in the end did she play the role of her choice.

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Shirley Jane Temple He was born on April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California (United States). She was the youngest of three brothers and the only girl. His mother was a housewife and his father, without studies, worked in a bank. From a young age, Temple showed ability to dance and song, so at the age of three her mother decided to enroll her in a dance school. As chance would have it, a director of casting who saw her in class, offered her a contract to appear in short films. In them little Shirley wore attractive costumes and had to imitate icons of the big screen of the time such as Marlene Dietrich, Mae West and Dolores del Río. In this way, Temple quickly attracted the attention of a major film studio.

Temple’s mother took advantage of the girl’s natural talents to exploit her strengths, and her father became her agent and financial advisor. Shirley signed a contract with Fox Film Corporation and when she was 6 years old she appeared in her first Hollywood feature film, titled Carolina.

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The petite actress, singer and tap dancer with golden corkscrew curls and contagious joy became almost overnight a sensation and the main source of income for the film studio, which she saved from bankruptcy.

Shirley Temple was synonymous with assured box office success. She was even awarded an Oscar for her performance with the tune On the Good Ship Lollipop in the film Bright Eyes of 1934, becoming, even today, the youngest actress to receive the Hollywood statuette. In that year of 1934 he starred in a dozen films. He also has that precocious record since stamping his hand and footprints on the outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

During one of the worst economic recessions in the country, the Great Depression, the little girl became a symbol of optimism, with her films focused on jovial themes that provided Americans an escape during difficulties. American President Franklin D. Roosevelt called Temple the little miss miracle for raising the morale of citizens in times of economic difficulties, even going so far as to say that “as long as our country has Shirley Temple we will be fine.”

Actress Shirley Temple, during a tribute in Los Angeles in 2006.mario anzuoni (reuters)

In 1940, when she was 12 years old, little Shirley Temple had already participated in 43 films, but she was still underpaid. In the beginning he charged $ 10 a day and then went on to charge $ 150 a week. To maintain your success, her mother at night subjected her to harsh sessions to make her curls perfect and instead of falling asleep with stories she learned the roles for the next day. When he was of legal age and wanted to have his money, the millions of dollars raised had remained in just 40,000 in his account due to the management that his father had made of his career.

Among her anecdotes, some funny, some cruel and others sad and dangerous, are that on her eighth birthday, which was actually her ninth, because the study falsified her age to make her look younger, she received 135,000 toys from all over the world. Or that at the age of six she stopped believing in Santa Claus when her mother took her to see him in a store and he asked her for my autograph. In 1939 a woman tried to assassinate her during a live radio interview because she claimed that she had stolen her 10-year-old daughter’s soul and that the only way to free her was by killing the artist …

Such a short and meteoric career also led to rumors, such as that she was a dwarf in disguise, something that the Vatican itself denied by sending a priest who verified that she was a very talented girl.

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The Temple brand, meanwhile, was used on all kinds of popular products and also contributed to their revenue. Her fans owned her brand of clothing, books, bags, sheet music, dolls, and soap, but as Shirley grew older and older, her appeal as a child star diminished and she became a young woman more interested in getting married than in cinema.

At 19, Shirley played Susan Turner in The bachelor and the adolescent, with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. Although the film received critical acclaim, audiences had a hard time accepting that its little miracle girl it was growing. After his 1948 appearance alongside John Wayne in Fort Apache He only had small appearances on television. At the age of 22, in 1950, he retired from the film industry as a Hollywood icon.

But Shirley Temple, married and divorced five years later, decided to direct her life elsewhere and began to look to politics with the aim of improving the lives of others. He joined the Republican Party and ran for a seat in Congress. Although he did not win, his campaign marked the beginning of a long and productive political career in which he played a crucial role in negotiations and in international diplomatic relations. Temple was appointed United States representative to the United Nations in 1969 and became a great advocate for the environment representing her nation in 1972 at the UN Conference on the Human Environment. In 1974 she was appointed the United States Ambassador to Ghana and also served as an ambassador to the former Czechoslovakia under the presidency of George Bush.

Shirley Temple became the White House’s first female State Department Chief of Protocol and was named an honorary Foreign Service official in 1988.

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Throughout her life she received numerous awards as an actress and, later, as a diplomat. The most significant for her was the one awarded in 2006 by the Actors Guild for her cinematographic career, the highest award of the organization.

On this day in 2015, the Santa Monica Museum of History opened the exhibition Love, Shirley Temple, a special display with a collection of the memories he collected.

Shirley Temple died on February 10, 2014, at the age of 85 at her home in Woodside, California of natural causes and surrounded by her family, consisting of two daughters and several grandchildren from a second happy marriage that she had for 55 years. .

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Shirley Temple, the ‘goldilocks’ and ‘little miss miracle’ of cinema who became a US diplomat