Shirley Temple

Questions for Reflection

1) Shirley Temple took part in the first interracial dance in cinema history with Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson in the 1935 movie The Little Colonel. How do you think this milestone affected Shirley Temple’s view on race relations and civil rights?  

2) Shirley Temple is one of the most famous child actresses of all time and was also able to reach a highly prominent role in foreign diplomacy. Which character strengths do you think contribute to people being able to reach the top of more than one field in their lifetimes?

3) President Ford and Ambassador Temple Black discuss the economics of Ghana’s raw materials. Compare and contrast how nationalization of raw materials vs. a free market system may affect the economy of a developing nation.

4) Many of Shirley Temple Black’s diplomatic colleagues refused to admit she was a successful diplomat due to their inability to see her as anything other than a former child star. How do you think stereotypes play a role in the public perception of political figures?

5) Celebrity Correspondences with Presidents Theme Question: Should celebrities use their popularity for political influence? Why? Do you think Shirley Temple Black used her position of influence appropriately? Why?

Shirley Temple never received royalties for the eponymous drink of ginger ale and grenadine, which she reportedly hated but was obligated to cheerfully drink.

Child actress Shirley Temple with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in July, 1938. Temple also met with Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, and J. Edgar Hoover.

First Lady Pat Nixon with United Nations delegate Shirley Temple Black in the Aburi Botanical Gardens in Abura Ghana, January 6th, 1972, together with Chief Nana Osae Djan II, Ohene of Abuir and Adontenhene of Akwapim.


In 1998 President Clinton said of Shirley Temple at the Kennedy Center Honors:

"She did a masterful job as ambassador, from Ghana to Czechoslovakia, where she made common cause with Vaclav Havel in the final, decisive days of the Cold War. In fact, she has to be the only person who both saved an entire movie studio from failure and contributed to the fall of communism. From her childhood to the present day, Shirley has always been an ambassador for what is best about America.”

A later ambassador to the now Czech Republic, Norman Eisen, said “she was most famous as an actress for her sunny confidence and optimism, and she really infused the United States’ role—as our representative here, in the Velvet Revolution—with that good cheer and that hope.” Black ended her time in Czechoslovakia just as the country was splitting into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1992.