:Sparkle Shirley Sparkle"

Think of a girl with curly bouncy blond hair tap dancing and singing and your mind always goes to  Shirley Temple.  No matter what age,  whether you are 10, 30, 60 or 80 you have been somehow touched by her image or her talent.  The fact that there are DVDs out again in 2014  illustrates that point.  I could easily speak of her movies but I’d  like to share the other Shirley Temple who was hidden from the public eye but who leaks out of the pages of books and stories  written about her. Shirley was more than that talented child that director Allan Dwan was quoted saying, ''With Shirley, you'd just tell her once and she'd remember the rest of her life," ''Whatever it was she was supposed to do - she'd do it. ... And if one of the actors got stuck, she'd tell him what his line was – she knew it better than he did”, the director of Heidi said" As Shirley matured her life changed remarkably but each of her new experiences made her an impressive woman. When she found her film career was not going well she made a surprising announcement that she would retire.  At age 17 she married John Agar Jr  who had starred with her in Fort Apache.  She found out quickly that he could be a mean drinker  and philander.  She was forced to drive herself to the hospital when she went in to labor with her daughter Linda Susan. With the reality of her life she divorced and decided to retire from her film career to give her daughter all her time.  A year later she fell madly in love with Charles Alden Black a California businessman.  He was also interested in world economics and politics.  Shirley found she had a real interest in it.  She and her new husband had two children, Chuck and Lori.   Her next focus was helping others doing community service. When her brother developed multiple sclerosis she involved herself in learning all she could about the disease.  She went to the doctor with George to learn as much as she could. She found that more people needed to be doing research on the disease so she became co-founder of the international Multiple sclerosis Society.  She could be seen visiting at the hospital doing things like  serving meals and visiting tirelessly. Her focus was on them, never herself.  Later she was asked to be a UN delegate.  She saw that her film reputation helped her to be able to speak to many political  figures and she took advantage of that fact and became an asset to the UN. Later she became the Ambassador to Ghana.  She was able to help with the crisis there,  Her next  appointment was as  Ambassador to Czechoslovakia.  After arriving in Czechoslovakia she and her husband heard a group of youth demonstrating.  They followed the noise and ended up right in the center of the start of a revolution.  After escaping  to the hotel 61 yr. old  Shirley took a seat on the upstairs window ledge as the  Ambassador and  watched the event. She was spotted by the newspaper and she again became a new kind of leader.  The area of Prague was a political hot spot and she fought  a huge battle trying to free prisoners ,  fighting for human rights and working for democracy  behind the scene.  She worked for 20 years in service starting with Nixon and ending with Carter when he came into office.  Her ability to see and work through the complex issues of a foreign power showed the abilities she had.  One day she discovered a lump in her breast and returned to the US for a mastectomy.  She decided that she should use this recent crisis to make women aware of the need to take care of themselves.  She was the 1st celebrity to speak of her mastectomy and cancer  publically.   She helped to promote self - breast exams.  Over the years she received many film awards including a mini Academy Award  but she lovingly said at age 80 that her greatest roles were as wife, mother and grandmother. "There's nothing like real love. Nothing." Her husband of 55 years, Charles Black, had just died a  few months earlier.  That curly topped singing dancing little girl changed the morale of the US during  the Great Depression  and gave us so much more in her 85 years that sadly is not often recognized. Thank you Shirley, you sure did do what your mother said   “Sparkle Shirley Sparkle” in your life.

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