America’s original silver screen sweetheart has left us, with the beloved Shirley Temple passing away at the age of 85.
The actress got her career start very early, and by the age of four — before she could fully read yet — Temple was featuring in one and two-reel productions, while also modelling for commercial products on the side. However, after Educational Pictures went bankrupt, it didn’t stop Temple from becoming a sensation. 1934’s “Bright Eyes” shot Temple to massive fame, with her rendition of the “On The Good Ship Lollipop” becoming a near instant classic movie moment.
Under contract to Twentieth Century Fox, Temple’s success was due to mixing her talent with wholesome family entertainment at a time when the country needed it most. In the years of the Great Depression, Temple’s films were a salve for a nation hurting under economic and social collapse. Temple’s films offered the dream and aspirations of better times ahead to audiences who flocked to her films. The films worked on a simple formula where a smile and song could overcome anything, and the message resounded loudly, making Temple a massive star, and one of the most valuable, lucrative assets for the new Fox studios. And her talents were rewarded not only in ticket sales, but with an Oscar in 1935 at the age of six years old, making her still the youngest person to receive the award.
But Temple’s popularity faded as she grew older, and stints to continue her acting career in films or on TV as a teenager or adult, weren’t met with the same success. She moved into politics, acting as ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia, appointed as representative to the the UN General Assembly and more. She also sat on boards of many corporations as well.
However, Temple was always America’s darling, with the actress continuing to receive awards, honors and lifetime achievement awards throughout the decades. Temple may no longer be here to sing us the songs, but they will continue to play for generations to come. Below, you can watch her perform “On The Good Ship Lollipop,” accept her SAG Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 and close it off with the 50-minute documentary, “Shirley Temple: America’s Little Darling.”