She was a cutie and a beauty - someone who seemed to be a natural-born star. And she was unquestionably one of Hollywood's most bankable assets. During the Great Depression she not only helped keep one of America's biggest Hollywood studios afloat but she warmed the hearts of millions.
A child sensation herself, she inspired children and reassured adults.
She sang. She danced. She acted. And she made it all seem effortless.
But make no mistake about it, Shirley Temple worked hard for every cent that she earned and every bit of success that she enjoyed. She came upon her good fortune the old-fashioned way - by the sweat of her brow, no matter that the sweat never showed up on the silver screen.
She was not only a film and television star but she was also an outstanding citizen and a great representative of our nation, not just by example but by the leadership she provided and the positions she held. As an adult she served as U.S. ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. She also served as Chief of Protocol of the United States from 1976-1977.
The little girl that we knew as Shirley Temple (America's Sweetheart) became the accomplished wife, mother and diplomat known as Shirley Temple Black.
Yes, Shirley Temple Black was a child star. But as far as anyone knows she never did drugs, she did not engage in histrionic behavior, she underwent no highly publicized personal upheaval and she remained married to the same man for 54 years and was a devoted mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
Of all the stars in Hollywood's glittering galaxy, Shirley Temple was the one most worthy of the term "beloved."
And the public had good reason to love her.
Her movies became classics of pre-World War II cinema and they remained popular with children and adults for decades. Indeed, children still watch Shirley Temple movies, now colorized, digitalized and on high-definition, wide, flat-screen TVs. In 1999, the American Film Institute included Shirley Temple on its list of the 50 Greatest Screen Legends. She was a Kennedy Center honors recipient in 1998. In 2010 she received the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Life Achievement Award.