Shirley Temple was only 6 when Hollywood immortalized her at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in 1935 with imprints of her tiny hands and feet. But the studio bosses would have had to get her dimples in wet cement to truly capture the million-dollar smile and the can-do determination of the little girl who became the world's biggest movie star that year and was prescribed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt himself as an antidote to the Great Depression.
"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," FDR said, "and forget his troubles."
With pictures such as "Bright Eyes" (1934), "The Little Colonel" (1935), "Dimples" (1936) and "Heidi" (1937) in almost constant rotation on television during the 1960s and '70s, Shirley Temple remained fixed in the public's mind as America's Sweetheart. But Shirley Temple Black went on to a career of considerable acclaim as an American diplomat. When she died Monday night at the Woodside home where she lived for 46 years, she was 85, and ageless. Her publicist, Cheryl Kagan, said her death was due to natural causes.
During her diplomatic career, she was delegate to the United Nations, White House chief of protocol, ambassador to Ghana and ambassador to Czechoslovakia.
Black always said her Hollywood career lasted until her 20s. For many of her real fans, however, she was never older than 10. A half-century later, her autobiography recognized that. Her book-signing tour for "Child Star" drew thousands across the country in 1988.
Jean Gardner Ching, of Mountain View, was in line to have her book signed at the Stanford Shopping Center, when she noticed at the back of the line one of her former students from Gunn High School, where she was coordinator of special education. She and the student, who was deaf, met Black together. "She was so gracious," Ching recalled. "Her beautiful, bright eyes lit up and she gave us a glorious smile and shared about volunteering at Children's Health Council. I treasure that wonderful memory of meeting a true lady, and will hold it in my heart forever."
Black's star still shone so brightly 50 years after her career as a child star had ended that the autobiography rose to No. 4 on the best-seller list. It covered only her acting years. She indicated that she would record the rest of her life, including her diplomatic years, but died before she could publish the account of her second career.
That upended the plans of David Packard, owner of the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto, who was awaiting publication before scheduling a Shirley Temple festival at the movie palace, with exhibits covering her diplomatic career in the theater's gallery. Packard had visited her Woodside home twice to discuss how she would dispose of her film memorabilia.
"It wasn't filled with signed photographs from everybody," Packard recalled. "She had things about her career, but I didn't have the feeling she was obsessed with it. I think she had a completely new life. Obviously you can't give it up completely when you're the most famous child star ever."
The Stanford Theatre, where Black once slipped in to watch "The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer," her star turn with Cary Grant, will conduct a Shirley Temple marathon this weekend. Admission prices will be reduced to encourage families to watch the films together.
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. She is survived by her son and daughter with Black as well as a daughter, Linda Susan, with her first husband.
While Charlie Black moved from ABC to the then-Stanford Research Institute to Ampex 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 then 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."
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."
Shirley Temple's song-and-dance audition at Fox 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. However, she did not escape the financial fate that befell Coogan, whose fortune was plundered by his parents, eventually resulting in the passage of a law to protect child actors.
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.
Before she was 12 she had made 40 movies, and sang her signature song, "On the Good Ship Lollipop" in "Bright Eyes." 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, more than a million little girls wore Shirley Temple dresses, and Shirley Temple dolls were in every little girl's bedroom. "Shirley wasn't considered a serious actress. They used her as a musical doll," said Diana Serra Cary, 95, whose silent film career as Baby Peggy paved the way for Shirley, but whose parents squandered all her earnings despite making $1.5 million at age 3. "I kind of envy her the money. But I didn't feel badly about her. I knew that was the way the cookie crumbled."
Whether she was tap-dancing with Bill (Bojangles) Robinson, or witnessing history in the making in Eastern Europe, neither Shirley Temple Black nor her dimples ever crumbled.
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.