What Happened to Shirley Temple After Her Iconic Hollywood Career as a Child Star?

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Hollywood child star Shirley Temple became one of the film industry’s most iconic people during the Great Depression for her cheery personality and famous ringlets. She later saw one of the most delicious mocktails in American history gain her name—though interestingly, she didn’t endorse that. Quite the opposite. Additionally, after experiencing success as an actress, she went on to have a dynamic professional career in politics, not to mention various other pursuits.

According to Looper, Shirley Temple might be most famous in the 21st century as a child star in films like “Curly Top,” “Heidi,” and “Wee Willie Winkie.” However, she continued acting well past her youth. At the time of the Great Depression, the outlet reports Temple served as the biggest box office draw in the country. She even saved 20th Century Fox from bankruptcy.

Eventually, however, when the young child star entered her teens, the cinematic production giant dropped her. Her departure from the cinematic film company then marked the end of her big-screen career. Shirley Temple endured, though, as the outlet reports she remained a noteworthy Hollywood player in the 1940s. Some projects from her teenage years include “Kathleen,” “Miss Annie Roonie,” and “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

Afterward, Ms. Temple made an appearance in the award-winning film, “Fort Apache” from iconic director John Ford.

Shirley Temple Experienced a Difficult Marriage

With ambitions to do everything at a youthful age, Looper further reports Shirley Temple previously suffered a rough marriage. At just 17 years old, the outlet said she was determined to be the first of her high school class to marry, which led to her wedding with U.S. Army Air Corps sergeant John Agar in 1945.

Agar has also pursued a career in acting, though he only ever achieved a “middling” status, which contributed to resentment of his famous wife.

Nevertheless, they maintained a positive face in public, later welcoming their daughter, Linda Susan in 1948.

Shirley Temple spent decades working as a political activist, diplomat, and public servant. However, surely her work in cinema helped draw her name into the public light. In reality, though, Agar struggled with alcohol abuse, and even saw an arrest for drunk driving. He also reportedly had issues with fidelity and boasted an “unpredictably violent temper.”

The couple divorced just a year later in 1949.

Pursuing a Career in Politics

It might seem strange to make the flip from acting to politics, however, that’s just what Shirley Temple did. As per Looper, the former child star became interested in politics when she moved to Washington D.C. with her second husband Alden Black in the early 1950s. When she later moved back to the West Coast, she ran for Congress, determined to represent California.

During her running, she said, “I think men are fine and here to stay, but I have a hunch that it wouldn’t hurt to have a woman’s viewpoint expressed in that delegation of 38 men.”

Later, Shirley Temple became a U.S. ambassador for both Ghana and Czechoslovakia. More specifically, she served under four different presidents. Temple became a delegate to the United Nations in 1969 through the appointment of President Richard Nixon.

In addition, she also contributed to multiple charities, served on the board of directors for various companies, and later received handfuls of lifetime achievement awards.