Shirley Temple Black just died. She was a child star who helped lift the spirits of the nation during the Great Depression and went on to be the only person (to date) to achieve the rank of "honorary Foreign Service officer". The "biggest little star" was nicknamed "Little Miss Miracle" by Franklin D Roosevelt and won a special academy award for "Outstanding Personality of 1934". By 1940, she had made 43 films.
She was a victim of her popularity as a child star. As she started getting older, audiences had trouble seeing her as an older child and then adult. She moved away from acting into politics and in 1969, she was appointed as ambassador to the United Nations. In 1989, Ambassador Black was appointed as ambassador to Czechoslovakia where she served during the Velvet Revolution.
I can't remember whether I ever actually met Ambassador Black although I may have when I went to Prague to assist on President Bush's visit.. I remember being told of a story while I was there of an incident that happened shortly after the Velvet Revolution and before the Berlin Wall fell. Many East Germans were trying to flee through Czechoslovakia because it was now free. One of the things that they would do would be to climb over the wall of the West German Embassy and ask for asylum. Ambassador Black lived just a couple of doors down from the West German Embassy and her garden wall was often mistaken for the wall of the West German Embassy. So often, in fact, that they had to station a marine in her back yard who would then shout to East Germans "two doors down! Two doors down!" I did not witness this myself but I was told of it by a couple of different people.
Now she has passed on at the age of 85. Ambassador Black's family issued a statement:
"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 of 55 years."
What a remarkable life she lead.