Shirley Temple Black Changed the World (With Her Dimples)

She Died On February 10, 2014


Shirley was 85 when she died. Through films and public service work she changed the world … one person.

She certainly helped the U.S.A. fight its way through the Great Depression.


Shirley Temple in 1933

Shirley Temple in 1933

It Started In Santa Monica

Though there was little acting acumen visible within her family, Shirley’s mother groomed her to be in show business. Yet she earned her fame through her own talent and screen presence.

For four years she was the top box office draw across the entire nation. There were even some complaints that the theaters were so full, some adults couldn’t get seats. This sometimes occurred because the children who had attended the previous showing would not leave.

Her merchandise sold in the millions of dollars. Marketers learned that selling to parents through their children’s interest is a sure bet.

On Par With FDR

John F. Kasson wrote the recent book titled The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression. He shows how Shirley Temple and her dynamic portrayals on the big screen paralleled Roosevelt’s turn around the economy.

Shirley Temple was important to the national morale and optimism at a frightening moment in U.S. history. Her impacted upon the country was so great that she was nicknamed the “Temple Recovery Act.” Some were sure that her affect was as huge as a government program in reversing the Great Depression.

Public Service

Temple got her start in foreign service after her failed run for Congress in 1967, when Henry Kissinger overheard her talking about Namibia at a party and was surprised that she knew anything about it.

Shirley Temple at 16

Shirley Temple at 16

She was appointed Representative to the 24th United Nations General Assembly by President Richard M. Nixon (September – December 1969), and was appointed United States Ambassador to Ghana (December 6, 1974 – July 13, 1976) by President Gerald R. Ford.

She was appointed first female Chief of Protocol of the United States (July 1, 1976 – January 21, 1977), and was in charge of arrangements for President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration and inaugural ball.

She served as the United States Ambassador to Czechoslovakia (August 23, 1989 – July 12, 1992).

In other words, her service to and for her country and world did not stop after her acting career.

What About Your Service to Your World?

You may not be able to act or even wear your hair in ringlets. But you can do something. You are given the opportunity to build a legacy that will outlast your life. When will you start? How about right now?

Sources: Heather Seggel, John F. Kasson,