Tuesday, February 18, 2014

a curly top worth remembering.

her middle name was jane.
but she was just about the furthest thing
from "plain" you can imagine.

her career really began in 1934, at age 6,
with her starring role in "stand up & cheer."
within an hour of completing her first song-&-dance
number in the movie, 20th century fox upped
her two-week contract to a full year, @ $150 a week,
with an extra $25 a week for her mother care for her.

she made eight movies that year, &
won an honorary academy award.

her mother, gertrude, styled her hair for every movie,
curling it into exactly 56 bouncy, blonde ringlets every time.

she was the darling of the depression years,
a movie star more popular than clark gable,
receiving more mail than greta garbo, &
being photographed more than president franklin d. roosevelt.

her most successful on-screen partnership was with
the legendary entertainer bill [bojangles] robinson.
she was the first white actress to hold hands
affectionately with a black man on screen.
they made four films together.

she first married at 17yo, to army airman john agar, jr.
they had a daughter, susan, but were divorced within four years.

fewer than 60 days following her divorce, at 21yo,
she met 30yo charles alden black, who claimed he had
never seen a shirley temple movie. they were engaged
twelve days later, wed in 1950 & were married
almost 55 years, until his 2005 death.

she retired from film for good at 22yo.
she & charles had a son, charles, jr., &
a daughter, lori, who became a grunge-band bassist.

she became a high-profile republican fundraiser.
in 1969, president nixon appointed her as a delegate to the united nations.
in 1974, president ford appointed her as the u.s. ambassador to ghana.
in 1976, she served as ford's chief of protocol.
& in 1989, president george h.w. bush appointed her as the u.s ambassador to czechoslovakia.

in 1972, she had her cancerous left breast removed.
she spoke openly about the episode,
one of the first prominent women to do so, &
is credited with helping make it ok to talk about breast cancer.

in 1998, she was a kennedy center honors recipient, &
in 1999, the american film institute included
her as #18 of the 50 greatest screen legends.

we lost her february 10th at the age of 85.
she left behind her two daughters & son,
as well as a granddaughter & two great-granddaughters,
& a grateful america.

the shirley temple "mocktail" was created by
hollywood's brown derby restaurant. it's made up of
ginger ale + grenadine, garnished with a maraschino cherry.

it's bright, fizzy, innocent sweetness is a fitting tribute
to the gifted little girl with the curls
whose sparkling personality & sunny optimism lifted
the spirit of a nation during some of its darkest days.

cheers, mrs. shirley jane temple black. godspeed, & thanks.

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