Palo Alto Weekly

Community Pulse - February 14, 2014

Shirley Temple Black dies at her home in Woodside

by Menlo Park Almanac staff

Shirley Temple Black died Monday, Feb. 10, at her home in Woodside. She was 85.

Considered the most popular child movie star of all time, she had lived in Woodside for 46 years.

Surrounded by family members on Monday night, she died peacefully of natural causes, the family said.

"We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and most importantly as our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and adored wife for fifty-five year of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black," the family said in a statement.

She started her acting career at age 3 and starred in such hits as "Stand Up and Cheer" and "The Little Colonel." She ruled the box office in the 1930s.

After marrying in 1950 and leaving her Hollywood career behind, she lived in Woodside for much of her life.

She met Charles Alden Black in 1950 when she was vacationing in Honolulu. A party was given in her honor and Black, a handsome young bachelor, was invited.

He surfed every night after work and told the hostess he wouldn't come to the party if the surf was up. "We would never have met if the surfing was good that day," she said. The couple was married later that year at his parents' Monterey ranch.

Her husband, an internationally recognized marine expert, died Aug. 4, 2005. They were married for 55 years and had three children, a son Charles Jr. and daughters Lori and Susan.

After retiring from her film career at age 21, Shirley Temple Black became active in politics and held several diplomatic posts. She was U.S. ambassador to Ghana, and later to Czechoslovakia during the collapse of the communist regime there in 1989.

In 1967, Pete McCloskey beat her and nine other candidates to win a seat in Congress.

Woodsiders would see her in town, and ordinary moments became memorable. Thalia Lubin recalls saying hello to her a couple of times in Roberts Market in the checkout line. "There she was bagging her own groceries."

George Roberts, the owner of Roberts Market in Woodside said: "She just was a very down-to-earth person, not like a celebrity. It was just a joy to know her. She was just like the gal next door. ... It's been years since we've seen her."

In the late 1970s, she was grand marshal of the Woodside May Day parade.

She served as a president of the Commonwealth Club of California and received many honors, including the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998 and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award in 2006. She was given a special juvenile Academy Award in 1935.

Funeral arrangements are pending and will be private, the family said.

For those wishing to make a donation in her memory, the family suggests either the Education Center at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles or the Commonwealth Club of California's 2nd Century Campaign.

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