Shirley Temple, an actress with curls, dimples and a legendary smile who was known to many as Mrs. Charles Alden Black and an American diplomat of considerable acclaim, died Monday at night at her Woodside home.
Known in private life as Shirley Temple Black, she was surrounded by family members and caregivers when she died of natural causes, according to publicist Cheryl Kagan. She was 85.
"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," a family statement said.
Temple had lived in Woodside for 46 years.
During her diplomatic career, she was delegate to the United Nations, White House chief of protocol, ambassador to Ghana and ambassador to Czechoslovakia.
As a child, however, she was so endearing as a 4-year-old movie star during the Great Depression that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was moved to remark:
"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."
Black always said her Hollywood career lasted 19 years, into the 1950s, her 20s. For many of her real fans, however, she was never older than 10, and the movies that made her famous were produced from 1932 to 1939. A half-century later, her autobiography recognized that. Her book-signing tour for "Child Star" drew thousands across the country in 1988.
In Campbell, after Shirley Temple Black quit signing, with many of her 2,000 fans who showed up still waiting in line, she did not sneak out of the PruneYard. She was "classy" enough, as one observer put it, to face her fans and thank them as she walked out the front door. "I'm not the back-door type," she told a Mercury News interviewer.
Black's star was still so bright in 1989, when she was 61, that the autobiography rose to No. 4 on the best-seller list in four weeks. Moreover, it covered only her acting years. She indicated that she would record the rest of her life, her matronly years and her diplomatic years, but she died before she could publish her side of that period.
Black identified her "discoverer'' as Jay Gorney, a songwriter for Fox Film's "Stand Up and Cheer."
Her little song-and-dance audition prompted the actor Harold Lloyd to proclaim to Shirley's mother, Gertrude, "My God! Another Coogan." It didn't take long for Shirley Temple to eclipse Jackie Coogan as a child star.
Before she was 12 she had made, among 40 movies, "Little Miss Marker," "The Little Colonel" and "The Littlest Rebel" and sang probably her signature song, "On the Good Ship Lollipop'' in "Bright Eyes." "Dimples" fit her smile. She wore Heidi's clothes in "Heidi." She had critics writing with rapture about "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm'' and she was awarded a miniature Oscar at the Academy Awards in 1935.
For more than four years in the late 1930s, Shirley Temple was No. 1 in box-office ticket sales, and more than a million little girls wore Shirley Temple dresses, according to Lester David and Irene David, two of her biographers. But in 1940 her box-office popularity fell to No. 5 and George and Gertrude Temple bought their daughter's contract for a reported $300,000. The Davids characterized 20th Century Fox's goodbye gifts to Shirley Temple -- an upright piano and some of the costumes she wore -- as miserly.
Some saw the irony in her movie "Poor Little Rich Girl," foretelling Shirley Temple Black's misfortune with her own wealth. In "Child Star," she wrote, "Between Father and me it was a dead heat who was least interested in seeing me financially independent."
As an adult, she confronted her parents about the more than $3 million she had earned as an actress. She discovered that after bills had been paid, the $800,000 left had been invested in stocks and bonds owned by her parents. Shirley Temple Black was left with $44,000 and the title to a cottage she had used on a movie lot.
Although Black kept making movies into the '50s for producer David O. Selznick -- among them two World War II films "Since You Went Away" and the critically praised "I'll Be Seeing You" -- her career essentially was over.
On Sept. 19, 1945, 17-year-old Shirley Temple had married 24-year-old John Agar, an Army sergeant whose father was an Illinois meatpacker. He, too, became an actor, but Selznick's pairing of the couple in John Ford's "Fort Apache" and "Adventure in Baltimore" didn't advance either career. Their marriage produced Linda Susan Agar in January 1948 and then dissolved in December 1949. (Agar died in April 2002.)
In 1950, Shirley Temple married Charles Alden Black, a Stanford graduate and son of the president of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. They had a son, Charles Jr., and a daughter, Lori, and the couple never had a fight, Shirley Temple Black wrote in her autobiography. That marriage lasted until his death in 2005 at age 86.
While Charlie Black moved from the American Broadcasting Cos. to then-Stanford Research Institute to Ampex Corp. and finally to his own marine research company, Mardela Corp., his wife established herself as a community volunteer and mother in Woodside.
She was not finished as a public person, however. In 1967, candidate Shirley Temple Black's name recognition could not carry her to Congress, and she lost decisively in a Republican primary contest with Paul N. "Pete" McCloskey, who went on to win election and remain in the House of Representatives for 16 years.
Black became a near-million-dollar fundraiser for the GOP in the 1968 presidential election and earned an appointment as delegate to the 24th General Assembly of the United Nations.
A mastectomy in 1972 to thwart breast cancer hardly fazed Black publicly and she issued a statement urging other women to get checked by their doctors and vowed, "I have much more to accomplish before I am through."
She accepted a Nixon appointment to the President's Council on Environmental Quality. In the 1970s, President Ford named her U.S. ambassador to Ghana and then the first female chief of protocol, which carried the dual rank of ambassador and assistant secretary of state.
She followed with other United Nations appointments in the 1980s, moving to Prague as U.S. ambassador during the last months of communism in Eastern Europe.
In the Mercury News' millennium series "Voices of Our Time" published in 1999, she recalled a November 1989 celebration of Czechs and Slovaks:
"It was held on the Letna Plain, where almost a million people gathered one cold, snowy night and listened to speeches from Vaclav Havel and others. Then they all took their keys from their pockets and shook them in the air, jangled them up high. It was a clean, undeniable call for liberty. That was an amazing sight.
"Then freedom came to Czechoslovakia, and the roads had a lot of twists and turnings and rocks in the way. Observing it, I found that the process they went through to achieve their freedom evoked cheers of satisfaction and genuine happiness from many of us. It also evoked anxiety. Freedom is not easy to achieve.''
She said she thought observing the revolution was the most important event she had witnessed.
Of her diplomatic years, Black observed:
"The thing that's nice about being Shirley Temple is that Shirley Temple opens doors for me. Shirley Temple Black can keep the doors open and accomplish something worthwhile. Just about everyone knows Shirley Temple. They consider me a friend before they meet me and they trust me. So, I have friends in some places in many parts of the world even the U.S. government doesn't have.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Born: April 23, 1928, Santa Monica, Calif.
Died: Feb. 10, 2014, Woodside, Calif.
Predeceased in death by her husband, Charles Alden Black, who died in 2005
Survivors: Daughters, Linda Susan, Lori; son, Charles Jr.; granddaughter Teresa and great-granddaughters Lily and Emma.
Read or share condolences: www.shirleytemple.com
Services: Private funeral arrangements are pending.
Memorials: Contributions in Black's memory may be made to The Commonwealth Club or California's 2nd Century Campaign or the Education Center of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles.