Google Doodle honors iconic child movie star Shirley Temple

The curly haired moppet sang and danced her way into our hearts before transitioning to a career in public service.

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Steven Musil
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Shirley Temple sang and danced her way to becoming one of the most popular child actors of all time, helping raise the spirits of millions of Americans suffering economic hardship during the Great Depression. While still a child, she was the top box office draw for several years in the mid-1930s, before growing up to be a diplomat.

Google celebrated the iconic child star on Wednesday with an animated Doodle, marking the anniversary of the 2015 date that the historical museum in her hometown of Santa Monica, California, opened Love, Shirley Temple, a special exhibit featuring a collection of her rare memorabilia. 

Born in 1928, Temple was encouraged by her mother at a young age to dance, sing and act. She began dance training when she was barely 3 and two years later achieved international fame for her performance in Bright Eyes, a movie that featured her singing the soon-to-be hit On the Good Ship Lollipop.


Shirley Temple around 1935.

Getty Images

The dimpled and curly haired moppet was typically cast as the cheerful fix-it girl in musical-comedy-dramas written especially for her. Recognizing her popularity, Hollywood gave Temple a miniature, honorary Academy Award when she was 6.

She would make more than 40 movies, most before she was 12, singing and tap-dancing with a variety of well-known partners. Her most successful partnership was with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, a Black entertainer 50 years her senior. Together, they made four films, including the 1935 Civil War saga The Littlest Rebel and 1935's The Little Colonel, which featured the pair's famous staircase tap dance scene with Temple matching Robinson step for step.

She continued to make movies into her late teens, including 1945's Kiss and Tell and 1947's The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, in which her character becomes infatuated with Cary Grant. But her success as a child actor didn't continue as she grew into a young adult, with movie audiences unwilling to accept her in more mature roles, and she retired from the business at the age of 22.

She'd return to the spotlight after marrying businessman Charles Black in 1950, becoming a prominent Republican fund-raiser after taking her new name of Shirley Temple Black. Her interest in politics was ignited when her husband rejoined the military during the Korean War, working as an intelligence officer in Washington.

After an unsuccessful run for Congress in 1967, Temple was appointed to be a delegate to the United Nations two years later by President Richard Nixon. She'd go on to serve as the US ambassador to Ghana, President Gerald Ford's chief of protocol and President George H. W. Bush's ambassador to Czechoslovakia.

For her service in government and entertainment, Temple received many awards and honors, including Kennedy Center Honors and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

Temple died in 2014 at the age of 85.

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