Shirley Temple Black

The world is a little bit darker today at the passing of a former child star and ambassador who was loved by millions.

Shirley Temple Black, who as a dimpled, ringlet-haired moppet starred in a series of winsome films that lifted the spirits of millions during the hard days of the Depression, then retired from the screen at 22 and eventually went on to a diplomatic career, died surrounded by family at her home in Woodside, Calif. She was 85.

Temple was the most famous child star of her time and arguably of all time, beginning her film career at age three and becoming the symbol of upbeat family entertainment during an era when many had little to smile about.

By six, she’d received a miniature Academy Award and left her hand and footprints in cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

Her roles tended to follow a template: she was constantly cheerful, smiling, optimistic and pure hearted — sometimes without one parent, sometimes an orphan, but always able to bring joy to the coldest-hearted characters and love to those who yearned for it.

She was one of my favorite stars. And she seemed to be a good person off-screen. I remember hearing her relate a story about her birthdays. She would receive hundreds of presents from fans, fellow movie stars, politicians, you name it. Her parents made her give them all to charity and thank everyone for sending them. They wanted her to be as normal as she could. They succeeded.

May her memory be a blessing.

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