Shirley Jane Temple (born April 23, 1928), later known as Shirley Temple Black, is an American film and television actress, singer, dancer, autobiographer, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. She began her film career in 1932 at the age of three, and in 1934, skyrocketed to superstardom in Bright Eyes, a feature film designed specifically for her talents. She received a special Academy Award in February 1935, and film hits such as Curly Top and Heidi followed year after year during the mid to late 1930s. Licensed merchandise that capitalized on her wholesome image included dolls, dishes, and clothing. Her box office popularity waned as she reached adolescence, and she left the film industry at the age of 12 to attend high school. She appeared in a few films of varying quality in her mid to late teens, and retired completely from films in 1950 at the age of 22. She was the top box-office draw four years in a row (1935–38) in a Motion Picture Herald poll.
Temple returned to show business in 1958 with a two-season television anthology series of fairy tale adaptations. She made guest appearances on various television shows in the early 1960s and filmed a sitcom pilot that was never released. She sat on the boards of many corporations and organizations including The Walt Disney Company, Del Monte Foods, and the National Wildlife Federation. In 1967, she ran unsuccessfully for United States Congress, and was appointed United States Ambassador to Ghana in 1974 and to Czechoslovakia in 1989. In 1988, she published her autobiography, Child Star. Temple is the recipient of many awards and honors including Kennedy Center Honors and a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.
Shirley Jane Temple was born on April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California. She is the daughter of Gertrude Amelia Temple (née Krieger), a homemaker, and George Francis Temple, a bank employee. The family was of German, Dutch, and English ancestry. She had two brothers, George Francis, Jr. and John Stanley. Mrs. Temple encouraged her infant daughter's singing, dancing, and acting talents, and in September 1931 enrolled her in Meglin's Dance School in Los Angeles, California. About this time, she began styling Shirley's hair in ringlets similar to those of silent film star Mary Pickford.