Shirley Temple Dies at 85

February 11, 2014

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Shirley Temple Black, the moppet who defined child stars and confections-based military crafts, died Monday in her Woodside, CA home. She was 85.

In the mid-to-late 30s, Temple was a box office sensation, bringing much-needed levity to the Great Depression through tap dancing and ringlets. By the age of 12, she'd started in over 40 films, many of them with such on-the-nose titles as "Dimples" and "Curly Top." But as the Depression wound down, America came to no longer need the gaiety of an adorable living doll. Temple was starting to grow up, and she soon learned the lesson of so many child stars to come: that it's pretty tough to get your image to grow at the same rate as your limbs. After making some largely-forgotten films as a teenager, she left acting at 22.

But Temple did not then spiral into drugs, petty crimes, and fits of bizarre insanity, which we now know to be a pretty solid accomplishment. In one of her rare second acts to not include a song-and-dance number, Temple got into politics. She became a Republican fundraiser and went onto become United States ambassadors to two different countries under two presidents.

Back in 1972, before Angelina Jolie was even born, Temple was a rare case of someone brave enough to speak publicly about a mastectomy. After losing her left breast to cancer, she spoke up in the hopes of increasing home checks and preventing other women from going undiagnosed.

As reprinted by The New York Times, a statement from her family read, "We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and most importantly as our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and adored wife for fifty-five years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black."

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