She wasn't just a child actress, she was the biggest star of all:
From 1935 to 1939 she was the most popular movie star in America, with Clark Gable a distant second. She received more mail than Greta Garbo and was photographed more often than President Franklin D. Roosevelt.Shirley Temple Black was also a diplomat: U.S. representative to the United Nations, ambassador to Ghana, and ambassador to Czechoslovakia. Unlike other celebrities and donors who are rewarded with cushy appointments, she was more than a figurehead:
She could have been a haughty movie star and political figure, but she majored in being down to earth.She could have rested on her laurels and childhood earnings, but she kept serving throughout her life. R.I.P.
She also talked knowledgeably about the economic conditions of [Czechoslovakia], getting down into the weeds about likely private joint ventures that would work. She also described the environmental degradation she had seen in Czechoslovakia from years of Soviet rule, calling the situation the “Pollution Curtain.”
It was clear that she had a passion for human freedom — this was not a newfound conviction. Before serving in this post, she had served as ambassador to Ghana under President Gerald Ford. Hardly a cushy assignment; she went there to work on the challenges of a developing nation. Before that role, she had served as a delegate to the United Nations under Richard Nixon. [snip]
Shirley Temple Black, who died Monday night, could have traded on being Shirley Temple for all her life, I assume. But she didn’t. She served her country, she stood for important values, and she did all that without pretense.