(April 23, 1928—February 10, 2014) BACKSTORY: In 1940, Temple starred in two consecutive flops, "The Blue Bird" and "Young People," Temple's parents bought up the remainder of her contract and enrolled her at the exclusive Westlake School for Girls. Within a year, MGM signed Temple and made plans to team her with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney first for the Andy Hardy series, and then when that idea was quickly abandoned, teaming Temple with Garland and Rooney for the musical "Babes on Broadway." However, realizing that both Garland and Rooney could easily upstage Temple, MGM replaced Shirley in that film with Virginia Weidler. As a result, Temple's only film for Metro became "Kathleen." The film was not a success and her MGM contract was canceled after mutual consent.
In 1944, David O. Selznick signed Temple to a personal four-year contract. She appeared in two wartime hits for him: "Since You Went Away" and "I'll Be Seeing You." In 1943, Temple had met John George Agar, an Army Air Corps sergeant, physical training instructor, and a member of a Chicago meat-packing family. On September 19, 1945, the two were married before 500 guests in an Episcopal ceremony at Wilshire Methodist Church. On January 30, 1948, Temple gave birth to their daughter, Linda Susan. Agar became a professional actor and the couple made two films together: "Fort Apache" (1948, RKO) and "Adventure in Baltimore" (1949, RKO).
Selznick's romantic involvement with actress Jennifer Jones caused him to lose interest in developing Temple's career. Her career limped along until 1949 with a number of loanouts to other studios. Temple admitted her recent movies had been poor and announced her official retirement on December 16, 1950.
Her marriage had became troubled, and Temple divorced Agar on December 5, 1949. She received custody of their daughter and the restoration of her maiden name. The divorce was finalized on December 5, 1950. In January 1950, Temple had met Charles Alden Black, a WWII United States Navy intelligence officer who was awarded the Silver Star and Assistant to the President of the Hawaiian Pineapple Company. Temple and Black were married in his parents' Del Monte, California home on December 16, 1950, before a small assembly of family and friends.
The family relocated to Washington, D.C. when Black was recalled to the Navy at the outbreak of the Korean War. Temple gave birth to their son, Charles Alden Black, Jr., in Washington, D.C. on April 28, 1952. Following the war's end and Black's discharge from the Navy, the family returned to California in May 1953. Black managed television station KABC-TV in Los Angeles, and Temple became a homemaker. Their daughter Lori was born on April 9, 1954. Lori went on to be a bassist in the grunge band The Melvins. In September 1954, Black became director of business operations for the Stanford Research Institute and the family moved to Atherton, California. The couple remained married for 54 years until his death on August 4, 2005.
From January-December 1958 Temple hosted and narrated a successful NBC television anthology series of fairy tale adaptations called "Shirley Temple's Storybook." The series was popular but lacked the special effects necessary for fairy tale dramatizations, sets were amateurish, and episodes were telecast in an irregular time-slot, making it difficult to generate a following. The show was reworked and released in color in September 1960 in a regular time-slot as "The Shirley Temple Show." It faced stiff competition from Maverick, Lassie, and the Walt Disney anthology and was canceled at season's end in September 1961. Temple continued to work on television, including filming a sitcom pilot called Go Fight City Hall that was never released where she portrayed a social worker.
In 1967, she ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in a special election to fill a vacant seat. She ran as a conservative and lost to liberal Republican Pete McCloskey, a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War. She was appointed Representative to the 24th United Nations General Assembly by President Richard M. Nixon (Sept. – Dec. 1969), and U.S. Ambassador to Ghana (Dec. 6, 1974 – July 13, 1976) by President Gerald R. Ford. She was appointed first female Chief of Protocol of the U.S. (July 1, 1976 – Jan. 21, 1977), and was in charge of arrangements for President Jimmy Carter's inauguration and inaugural ball. She served as the U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia (August 23, 1989 – July 12, 1992), having been appointed by President George H. W. Bush.
Shirley Temple Black died of natural causes on February 10, 2014, at the age of 85. She was at her home in Woodside, California, surrounded by family and caregivers. She is survived by her three children, as well as grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
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