Nation, Bay Area mourn loss of Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple was probably the most influential child star in Hollywood history.
February 11, 2014 7:45:19 PM PST
Shirley Temple was probably the most influential child star in Hollywood history.

Macaulay Culkin and Miley Cyrus may have been just as famous, but they didn't have the impact on their time in history as Temple did.

She could sing, dance, laugh or cry on cue with the adorable precociousness that made her the most popular actress in the country at the age of seven. Even today she is listed among the American Film Institute's top-25 screen legends.

Tuesday, flowers were placed near her star on the Hollywood walk of fame, marking her death at the age of 85.

Hollywood and the Bay Area are mourning the passing of an American sweetheart. Shirley Temple Black died Monday night. She lived in the San Mateo County town of Woodside.

There has never been a child star quite like Shirley Temple. Born in 1928, she was a dimpled darling who lifted the nation's spirit during a difficult time.

San Francisco State cinema professor Joseph McBride calls her an American icon.

"She really helped save our country from the Great Depression along with Franklin D. Roosevelt who said, 'As long as our country has Shirley Temple we'll be alright,'" said McBride.

"She was absolutely wonderful, 'The Good Ship Lollipop,'" said former Secretary of State George Shultz.

Shultz fondly remembers Temple, the movie star, who later became Shirley Temple Black the diplomat.

An ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia, Shultz says Temple Black later volunteered to teach other ambassadors.

"She'd tell them about all the little problems that you're going to run into that maybe you didn't think of. It isn't all going to cocktail parties, you got an embassy to run," said Schultz.

Temple Black used her diplomatic skills when she was elected president of San Francisco's Commonwealth Club of California in 1984 and brokered an agreement with the rival World Affairs Council.

"There was a lot of competition. Sort of, little warfare going back and forth. So, she negotiated a written agreement with the Chair of the Board of the World Affairs Council that the organizations would always host [a] visiting Head of State together," said Commonwealth Club of California President Gloria C. Duffy.

Temple Black's family says memorial donations can be made to the Commonwealth Club.

Shirley Temple Black lived in Woodside for a half-century. Fans left flowers outside her home on Lakeside Drive today.

One neighbor put down Girl Scout cookies because, like Temple Black, they gave her comfort.

Temple Black died at her home with her long-time caregiver at her side. Temple Black was often seen around town grabbing coffee, or doing her own grocery shopping

Woodside Bakery & Caf? owner Jan Sweyer said she cared about her community.

"She was very low key. You know, she wasn't someone who really put herself out there. I think that when she came here, because of our town, she found solace. And it was, it's restful here and a kind of little haven that she could get away from it all," said Sweyer.

Shirley Temple Black was one of the first celebrities to go public after being diagnosed with breast cancer and her mother once claimed her first words were the lyrics to a song.


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