Shirley Temple Black, who sang and tap-danced her way into Depression-era America's hearts, passed away at her home on Monday, aged 85.
Best known for her dimples, curls and precociousness, Shirley Temple reached a level of fame that perhaps no other child star has seen since. She recieved more mail than Greta Garbo and was photographed more times than the president.
Put in to dancing lessons by her manager mother at age 3, Shirley Temple started her career aged 4, when she was chosen to appear in "Baby Burlesks"; a series of sexually suggestive one-reel shots, where she impersonated sexy stars like Mae West.
In 1934, she landed her first main role when she played James Dunn's daughter in "Stand Up and Cheer", a fantasy musical, where she was hailed by Variet magazine as a "Sure-Fire Kidlet Star". She was placed under contract for a year by Fox Studios.
She made 8 films in 1934 alone.
Her first lead role came when Fox lent her to Paramount for "Little Miss Marker", where she starred as a daughter left as a marker for her father's gambling debts.
She played the survivor of an aeroplane crash in "Bright Eyes" in 1934 and a shipwreck survivor in "Captain January" in 1936.
"Wee Willie Winkie" followed in 1937, where she wins the hearts of Colonial soldiers and "Susannah of the Mounties" in 1939, where she plays an orphan taken in by a mountie, who saves him from an Indian attack.
Films during the depression often dealt with the theme of overcoming adversity, or escaping to a fantasy world. Shirley Temple dolls were the best-selling of the decade.
Temple was dropped from the studio aged 12 after "The Blue Bird" (1940) failed to be the rival to "WIzard of Oz" as it was hoped.
She then spent 5 happy years at the Private Westlake School For Girls, where she felt like she could really "Be herself."
Temple had a few roles for MGM in her teens, but as her golden hair turned brown and turned into an "unremarkable teenager" (film historian, David Thomson), she became less popular.
Temple returned briefly to television in 1958-61 with "Shirley Temple's Storybook", but by the 60s, Temple decided to become a diplomat. She was president of various charitable societies and an ambassador to Ghana , where her performance was hailed as "outstanding".
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