Shirley Temple Black, the 1930s-era child star, has died at 85, The New York Times reports. Black passed away at her Northern California home.
And while known for her film career, Temple Black later became active in Republican politics.
"She would always be America's darling of the Depression years, when in 23 motion pictures her sparkling personality and sunny optimism lifted spirits and made her famous," writes the Times. "From 1935 to 1939 she was the most popular movie star in America, with Clark Gable a distant second. She received more mail than Greta Garbo and was photographed more often than President Franklin D. Roosevelt."
When she turned from a magical child into a teenager, audience interest slackened, and she retired from the screen at 22. But instead of retreating into nostalgia, she created a successful second career for herself.
After marrying Charles Alden Black in 1950, she became a prominent Republican fund-raiser. She was appointed a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly by President Richard M. Nixon in 1969. She went on to win wide respect as the United States ambassador to Ghana from 1974 to 1976, was President Gerald R. Ford's chief of protocol in 1976 and 1977, and became President George H. - <W. Bush's ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989, serving there during the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.
Those who worked with Temple Black during those years when she was active in politics and public policy offered effusive praise on Tuesday. Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, who heads Bethesda, Md.-based RespectAbilityUSA.org, wrote:
The obits are glossing over an important info on Amb. Shirley Temple. She was the US Ambassador to Czechoslovakia when it became democratic. I remember it well because I was there with Campaigns & Elections (doing my small part on campaign training seminars to support democracy against communism and repression). My boss was put into a Czech jail. Amb. Temple helped get him out and supported Democracy in that country! Later, the country split into 2 countries -- and freedom rang! She was a major supporter of freedom!
Temple Black also once tried her hand at electoral politics. In 1967, she ran unsuccessfully in a special election for a Bay Area House seat left vacant when the GOP incumbent died. She ran as a conservative and lost to law school professor Pete McCloskey, a liberal Republican who was a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War.