Los Angeles, California (September 12, 2005) – Screen Actors Guild (SAG) announced today that Shirley Temple Black, who captivated the world as no other child star has done before or since, then served her country as an eminent diplomat over more than three decades, will receive the Guild’s most prestigious honor—the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment. Ambassador Black will be presented the Award, given annually to an actor who fosters the “finest ideals of the acting profession,” at the 12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®, which premieres live on TNT and TBS on Sunday, January 29, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, 7 p.m. Central and 6 p.m. MT.
In making today’s announcement, Screen Actors Guild President Melissa Gilbert said, "I can think of no one more deserving of this year’s SAG Life Achievement award than Shirley Temple Black. Her contributions to the entertainment industry are without precedent; her contributions to the world are nothing short of inspirational. She has lived the most remarkable life, as the brilliant performer the world came to know when she was just a child, to the dedicated public servant who has served her country both at home and abroad for 30 years. In everything she has done and accomplished, Shirley Temple Black has demonstrated uncommon grace, talent and determination, not to mention compassion and courage. As a child, I was thrilled to dance and sing to her films and more recently as Guild president I have been proud to work alongside her, as her friend and colleague, in service to our union. She has been an indelible influence on my life. She was my idol when I was a girl and remains my idol today.”
Shirley Temple Black’s early fame is legendary. Born Shirley Jane Temple in Santa Monica, California, on April 23, 1928, to George and Gertrude Temple, a banker and a housewife, she was enrolled in Ethel Meglin’s Dance Studio in Los Angeles at age 3. Discovered by Charles Lamont, she made her screen debut in 1932 in What’s to Do . She parodied such famed adult stars as Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich in the “Baby Burlesks” series of shorts and played toddler roles in such films as The Red Haired Alibi, before contracting with Fox Studios, which soon would become 20th Century Fox.
1934 was a year that saw her star in 10 motion pictures, including her breakout role in Stand Up and Cheer and her star turns in Little Miss Marker, Baby Take a Bow and Bright Eyes–-the film which introduced her signature song “On the Good Ship Lollipop.” Singing, tap dancing and acting her way to international stardom, the golden-haired tyke with a remarkable ability to evoke genuine emotion was honored at age 6 with an unprecedented Juvenile Academy Award in 1935 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment. She remains the youngest actor ever to receive an Oscar®. As Hollywood’s number one box office leader from 1935 to 1938, she headlined such hits as Curly Top, Captain January, Poor Little Rich Girl, Stowaway, Heidi and Little Miss Broadway and was credited with securing Fox’s position in the industry. As the decade closed, she made The Little Princess, Susannah of the Mounties and her last film as a child actress, The Blue Bird. The star of more than 40 major motion pictures (most made before she was 12), she raised the spirits of a nation struggling with the Great Depression; charmed presidents and royalty; held her own on the screen opposite such stars as Lionel Barrymore, Adolph Menjou, Robert Young, Jimmy Durante, James Dunn, Buddy Ebsen and Gary Cooper; luminously broke the color barrier holding the hand of her dance mentor and partner Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in The Little Colonel, The Littlest Rebel, Just Around the Corner and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm; and inspired a new industry of dolls and collectibles bearing her image.
Kathleen, made for MGM in 1941, was Temple’s transition to teenage and young adult roles. During a seven-year contract with David O. Selznick, she made such films as I’ll Be Seeing You, Since You Went Away, That Hagen Girl (opposite Ronald Reagan) and The Bachelor and The Bobby Soxer (opposite Cary Grant). In 1948, she reunited after a decade with her Wee Willie Winkie director, John Ford, for an ingénue role in Fort Apache, starring opposite John Wayne, Henry Fonda and her first husband, John Agar. She made her last features, A Kiss for Corliss and The Story of Seabiscuit, in 1949, then retired from acting until 1958, when, among her more than 50 major television appearances, she hosted and starred in two television literary anthologies bearing her name: Shirley Temple’s Storybook and The Shirley Temple Show through 1961.
Shirley Temple Black has called her 1988 memoir “Child Star,” covering her first 22 years, as the ’first half’ of her autobiography, and rightly so. Her distinguished career in public, corporate and humanitarian service is now longer than her years as a performer.
Her role as a diplomat evolved from her desire to assist her brother George, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1952. Active on the local and national boards of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, she co-founded the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies, building its membership to 19 countries and intensifying her interest in world affairs. She ran for Congress in 1967, but was not elected.
In 1969, Hollywood’s former emissary of goodwill to the world was given her first opportunity to serve her country in an official capacity, when President Richard M. Nixon appointed her United States Delegate to the 24th United Nations General Assembly.
In 1974, President Gerald Ford appointed her U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana, after she had served as deputy chair of the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. Conference on Human Environment in Stockholm in 1970-1972, U.S. Delegate on the Joint Commission of the U.S.S.R-U.S.A. Cooperative Treaty on the Environment in Moscow in 1972-73 and Special Assistant to the Chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality from 1972-1974.
Returning from Ghana, she was named White House Chief of Protocol by President Ford in 1976, the first woman to hold that post.
From 1981 to 1988, during President Ronald Reagan’s administration, Ambassador Black served as a Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State and conducted Ambassadorial seminars for first time Ambassadors and their spouses.
In 1989, President George Bush appointed her U.S. Ambassador to the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. Two decades earlier, she had been in Czechoslovakia as a volunteer soliciting the country’s membership in the Foundation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies when, on August 21, 1968, Soviet and Warsaw Pact tanks rolled into Prague. She served as Ambassador from 1989 to 1992, pivotal years in the Czech development of economic and political reforms.
Ambassador Black has continued to foster diplomatic relations as a founding member and former vice president of the American Academy of Diplomacy; as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Council of American Ambassadors, the United States Commission for UNESCO and the U.S. Citizens’ Space Task Force; as a board member of the Association for Diplomatic Studies, the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, the American-China Society, the United Nations Association and the World Affairs Council of Northern California; and as an advisor to the Institute for International Studies at Stanford.
She has served on the board of directors of such corporations as Del Monte, Fireman’s Fund Insurance, Bancal Tri-state, Bank of California, the Oakland Tribune and Walt Disney Productions; on the boards of the Bay Area Educational Television Association, the Regional Advisory Board for Criminal Justice and the Bay Area Council; and as President of the Commonwealth Club of California.
In 1972 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. Reluctant at first to talk about her surgery, she was the first woman of international fame to go public with her illness, generating more than 50,000 letters of support. She has served on the board of directors of the San Francisco Health Facilities Planning Association and the California Advisory Hospital Council.
Ambassador Black has been named a Chubb Fellow of Timothy Dwight College at Yale University, a member of the Board of Visitors for the Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, a fellow of the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, California and has been honored with honorary doctorates from the University of Santa Clara and Lehigh University.
She was honored in 1993 with the Northern California Emmy Awards Governors Award and in 1998 by the Kennedy Center for lifetime contribution to the arts and American culture. In 2002, 20th Century Fox dedicated the Shirley Temple Child Development Center on the studio lot, graced by a bronze statue immortalizing her performance of “Baby Take A Bow.” She now serves as a consultant to Fox on the marketing of the collection of films she made for the studio as a child, as well as other Fox family-oriented entertainment.
She served as Grand Marshal for the 1939, 1989 and 1999 Tournament of Roses, the only woman to have done so three times and the only person to have led the parade as both a child and an adult. In the 1989 parade, she was accompanied by her granddaughter, Teresa Falaschi.
In 2001 she served as a consultant on the ABC Television Network production of Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story, based on part one of her autobiography.
Married to marine entrepreneur and maritime issues expert Charles A. Black from December 1950 until his death on August 4, 2005, Black has three children, Susan Black Falaschi (from her marriage to Agar), Charles Alden Black Jr. and Lori Alden Black. She resides in Woodside, California.
Screen Actors Guild (SAG), is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has a rich history in the American labor movement, from standing up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940s to fighting for artists’ rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century. With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents nearly 120,000 working actors in film, television, industrials, commercials and music videos. The Guild exists to enhance actors’ working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists’ rights. Headquartered in Los Angeles, SAG is a proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Additional SAG information is available online at www.sag.org.
The 12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® is a presentation of Jeff Margolis Productions in association with Screen Actors Guild. Jeff Margolis is executive producer and Kathy Connell is producer. SAG Awards™ information and a list of previous SAG Life Achievement Award recipients may be found at www.sagawards.org.
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