(Her)story: Shirley Temple

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard that Shirley Temple has passed away at the age of 85.  Much like many other little girls, I grew up watching her movies, dancing along and always so engrossed by her incredible charm.  I remember having my mom do my hair up in curlers so that I could look like Shirley, and I would go around the house saying, “Oh my goodness!”  And of course, every time we went out to dinner, I just had to order my favorite drink — the Shirley Temple.

Most of us know Shirley for her childhood acting career, but she went on to lead an amazing life after she left Hollywood.  So in honor of her passing, here are some things you might not have known about Shirley Temple:

1. She starred alongside Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in several movies, including “The Little Colonel” from which the famous dance on the stairs took place.  This was the first time that a black man had appeared dancing with a white girl on film.

2. She was awarded a special Juvenile Academy Award in 1935.

3. Temple served as both a spokesperson and later on the Board of Directors for the National Wildlife Federation.

4. After she retired from acting, Temple pursued political ambitions and in 1967 ran for Congress in California, hoping to become the first woman elected to the state’s delegation.  She ran, unsuccessfully, as a “Republican-Independent” who supported the Vietnam war.

5. Despite her failed Congressional run, Temple was not kept out of politics.  She served in Nixon’s administration as a member of the delegation to the United Nations General Assembly.  She later served as an amabassador to Ghana and Chief of Protocol under Ford, State Department trainer under Reagan and ambassador to Czechoslovakia under Bush.

6. In 1972 Temple had a mastectomy to remove a cancerous tumor in her breast.  She publicly announced her condition and operation, becoming the first prominent woman to speak out about breast cancer.  By doing so, she paved the way for many of the breast cancer awareness and research organizations we now have today.

All in all, Shirley Temple led an inspiring and influential life.  I know that the world won’t forget her adorable little curls, but I hope that they won’t forget the legacy she left behind, either.

-C

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