On my flight to Taipei, I was watching the movie J. Edgar when Shirley Temple made a surprise appearance giving Hoover a peck on the cheek. Her brief appearance in the film made me wonder, “what the hell happened to Shirley Temple?” Did she fall victim to fame and stardom at a young age? Too much too soon? If I had to guess, I would have expected that she would have died at a fairly young age strung out on cocaine. Somebody that had built much of their stardom on a youthful zeal and wholesome image was bound to be swallowed alive by the Hollywood limelight, right?
Well my hunch was completely off. Shirley Temple is still alive and kicking in Woodside, CA. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1972 and was amongst the first women to speak openly about it.
Shirley decided to retire from Hollywood production when she was 22, which was probably a really smart move on her part. Believe it or not, Shirley Temple became a public servant and made a campaign for an open seat on the House of Representatives (she lost though). In 1969, Richard Nixon appointed her to be a representative for the United Nations. She was with the Republican party, which makes perfect sense for someone that is basically the model conservative citizen. On the other hand, if I were chillin’ in the US Senate and Shirley Temple came up to me with a bill of any kind, I would probably chuckle inside.
She ultimately made her way into becoming the United States Embassador to Czechoslovakia. That’s pretty cool. Also won a lifetime achievement award. Basically, she maintained her goody-two-shoes image throughout her career. I suppose once you are branded as Shirley Temple, you can get away with murder.
It’s saddening to see kids that make their rise to fame at much to early of an age only to come crashing on a downward spiral amplified by exaggerated tabloids (i.e. Linsay Lohan, Macaulay Culkin, Britney Spears). It’s refreshing to see that some kid made it out of Hollywood alive without having a permanent PR blemish. Leonardo DiCaprio also shows good promise of making it the long haul, and he’s managed to do it staying IN Hollywood. Props.