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Shirley Temple, the enchanting singing-and-dancing child star with the glowing corkscrew curls who saved a Hollywood studio and helped yank America from the throes of the Great Depression, died Monday night of natural causes at her Woodside, Calif., home, surrounded by her family and caregivers. She was 85.
Making $1,250 a week at age 6, the incandescent Temple was a veteran of 46 features and one-reelers before she turned 13. With the country still reeling from the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed, “As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be alright.” Her films were always filled with boundless optimism and an uncanny ability to melt the hardest of hearts.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Temple at age 6 with the first Juvenile Academy Award “in grateful recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year 1934.” She is the youngest person ever to receive an Oscar statuette, miniature or otherwise.
The Hollywood Reporter highlights the most memorable roles from Temple’s heartwarming career.
Bright Eyes (1934)
Temple captivated moviegoers with her furrowed brow, perplexed pouts and unrelenting cheeriness in Bright Eyes, the picture in which she played an orphaned godchild caught in a custody battle. She memorably belted out her signature song, “The Good Ship Lollipop,” and the sheet music then sold a half-million copies.
Little Miss Marker (1934)
Little Miss Marker put Temple onstage — and atop a piano — for a memorable performance of “Laugh, You Son of a Gun” with Dorothy Dell. Temple’s character is a “marker” held by gangsters after her father loses a bet.
The Little Colonel (1935)
The Little Colonel is the Civil War drama with music in which Temple tap-danced with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson on a staircase in one of the most enchanting cinematic sequences of all time. In her first of four onscreen pairings with Robinson, Temple plays Lloyd Sherman, the estranged granddaughter of Colonel Lloyd — though the two bond as the rest of their family reconciles.
Our Little Girl (1935)
In the final feature from director John S. Robertson, Temple plays Molly Middleton, a young girl who runs away from home after her parents grow apart and announce their divorce. The film also stars Joel McCrea and Rosemary Ames as her parents.
Curly Top (1935)
In the musical directed by Irving Cummings, Temple plays a sweet but troublemaking orphan adopted by a wealthy bachelor, who then falls for her older sister. It is in Curly Top that Temple sings her classic, “Animal Crackers in My Soup.”
The Littlest Rebel (1935)
The Littlest Rebel cast Temple and Robinson together again, this time to appeal to President Lincoln for help in another Civil War saga. Their onscreen reunion features another memorable tap-dance sequence.
A Little Princess (1939)
In the film loosely based on the Frances Hodgson Burnett tale, Temple reprises another orphan character, this time as a boarding school student who is mistreated when her father is lost at war. It was the first of her movies to be filmed completely in Technicolor.
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