There are certain performers who define generations and eras, and Shirley Temple, who captivated audiences in her childhood with her cheerful demeanor and yellow curls, certainly could be identified as the public figure audiences needed most during the Great Depression. Today’s Google Doodle, which commemorates the day the Santa Monica History Museum opened an exhibit of memorabilia entitled “Love, Shirley Temple,” celebrates the child star whose run of movies even earned her an Academy Award at the age of 6. Temple first captured the attention of audiences in the 1934 musical Stand Up And Cheer!; she ended up making a dozen movies in 1934 alone.
One of Temple’s most iconic performances is “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” which finds the star adorably serenading a group of pilots on an airplane. Temple was so prolific during her childhood and teenage years that she managed to retire from Hollywood at the age of 22, and went on to lead a life that was defined by public service. Temple eventually was tapped to become a representative of the U.S. to the United Nations in 1969, and in 1972, she represented the United States at the U.N. Conference on the Human Environment.
Temple also served as the first female Chief of Protocol to the State Department, and for her efforts, she was appointed as an Honorary Foreign Service Officer in 1988. “If you’ve seen a Shirley Temple movie, you have in a sense gotten to know who she was as a person,” Teresa Caltabiano, Temple’s granddaughter, said in a statement. “Growing up, her character was tempered by the Depression and World War II, as was her awareness of the need to serve others. Her brother’s M.S. diagnosis and later her own mastectomy strengthened her conviction that she could have a positive effect, not only in her own family, but around the world.”