Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Shirley Temple, 1928-2014. Requiescat in pace.
The Good Ship Lollipop has sailed for the last time: Shirley Temple Black (née Shirley Temple), who achieved fame as a child actress in the early 1930’s, has passed away at the age of 85.
The unfortunate tabloid headline “Black Death in California!” suggests itself.
Lovable, talented, and wholesome, Shirley Temple ruled the Hollywood box office for four consecutive years, a feat that seems inconceivable today for an adult, never mind a prepubescent. As an adult, she served as U.S. Ambassador to both Ghana and, later, Czechoslovakia, as well as Chief of Protocol of the United States, positions to which she was appointed under the Ford and first Bush administrations. Prior to her serving in those roles, she had been appointed Representative to the U.N. General Assembly by Richard Nixon.
Shirley Temple’s hand- and footprints in concrete outside the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. An almost identical image resides in the Elisson Archives, taken during my first trip to the west coast forty years ago. Photo credit: Wikimedia.
With some ginger ale, a splash of my homemade grenadine, and a maraschino cherry, I could make a Shirley Temple cocktail - a nonalcoholic drink, presumably suitable for child actors - and imbibe it in her memory. Alternatively, I could use ginger beer, a shot of rum, and a squirt of Luxardo maraschino liqueur to make the adult version: a Shirley Temple Black.
I will miss Shirley: She was, for one, my late grandmother’s namesake. Her films were already Old Stuff by the time I was of movie-watching age, but her films and impact on American popular culture were part of the backdrop of the world in which I grew up. As time moves on apace, more and more of the pieces of that backdrop are disappearing into the Eternal Night that awaits us all, alas.
Ave atque vale, Miss Temple! Godspeed... and may your voyage on the Good Ship Lollipop be forever sweet.
Update: Kevin Kim weighs in with his own tribute.
Update 2: Meryl Yourish adds hers.