US child film star and diplomat.
Born in Santa Monica, California, she was appearing in one-reelers and small parts in feature films by the time she was four years old. After Stand Up and Cheer (1934) her rise to fame was meteoric and by the end of 1934 she was the recipient of a Special Academy Award. Her diminutive size, curly hair, dimpled smile, and ability to sustain a competent, if somewhat embarrassing, song and dance routine made her the idol of mothers and daughters throughout the world. Shirley Temple dresses, hair styles, and look-alike competitions became a feature of life in the 1930s wherever the silver screen had penetrated. She starred in Little Miss Marker (1934) and from 1935 to 1939 was a top box-office draw with such films as Curly Top (1935), Dimples (1936), Wee Willie Winkie (1937), Heidi (1937), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938), and Little Princess (1939). Temple continued to make films until 1949, including Since You Went Away (1944), Fort Apache (1948), and A Kiss for Corliss (1949), but as a young woman never achieved the charisma of her childhood. Two television series, The Shirley Temple Story Book (1958) and The Shirley Temple Show (1960), proved disappointing.
As Shirley Temple Black (she married her second husband, Charles Black, in 1950) she became active in politics. Major appointments included US representative to the United Nations (1969–70), US ambassador to Ghana (1974–76), chief of protocol at the White House (1976–77), and US ambassador to Czechoslovakia (1989–92).