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February 15, 2014

COLUMN: So much more than just a ‘mocktail’

Shirley Temple has sailed into the sunset on the good ship Lollipop. The actress died Monday at 85 years of age.

Temple was a beloved child star at a time when people desperately needed a reason to smile. She became a star in movies that lifted the spirit of a nation during a dark time. For many during those days, going to the movies was a welcome relief from the everyday strain and stress brought on by The Great Depression. The resilience that would always shine through her portrayals, often of characters struggling with the obstacles of life themselves, was a healing balm.

In Peter Bogdanovich’s book. Who the Devil Made It: Conversations with Legendary Film Directors,” director Allan Dwan said, “With Shirley, you’d just tell her once and she’d remember the rest of her life. Whatever she was supposed to do, she’d do it. And if one of the actors got stuck, she’d tell him what his line was – she knew it better than he did.”

Temple retired from acting at the ripe old age of 21, according to her website, and she went on to hold several diplomatic posts in Republican administrations, including ambassador to Czechoslovakia during the sudden collapse of communism in 1989.

A report by The Associated Press Tuesday quoted former President George H.W. Bush, who appointed her to that post and thanked her for her “selfless service to our country.”

Temple, who was known outside of Hollywood as Shirley Temple Black, died at her home of natural causes. She went out with quiet dignity, much like she lived her life.

I have loved Temple’s movies all my life. If one of them is on TV, I’m curled up and watching it. I enjoy her enthusiasm and zest for life, which shined through in every role she played. I also appreciate the wholesomeness of the movies she made, and the optimismistic outlook of her characters.

Temple was a class act. She made the transition from child actress to adult flawlessly, and many of today’s young actresses should take note – not one report of drug or alcohol abuse, and no time spent in rehab. She handled her fans graciously, as well as her fame.

The most striking thing about Temple to me is that she could have chosen to live out her life quietly, just enjoying the fruits of her childhood labor. Instead, she chose to live her adult life in service to her country. That says a lot about her character. She chose to make her life more than just a Hollywood career.

Again, starlets, take note.

One thing many people may not realize is that Temple shared her experiences after having a mastectomy in 1972, something that just wasn’t discussed as much then as now. She spoke of early detection and treatment, and inspired many women to seek appropriate medical attention. According to her website, she received more than 50,000 cards and letters thanking her for speaking out.

So the world is less sweet today. You can still go into a lot of places and order everyone’s favorite “mocktail,” a Shirley Temple. But I bet it’s just not the same.

On a different note, some very sweet folks made my day on Friday. Singers from the First United Methodist Church Chancel Choir came by to deliver a singing Valentine. Such great voices and such sweet spirit...I enjoyed it so much, as did everyone in our office. I hear they’ve raised a tidy sum for the restoration of their organ, which was the goal of the singing Valentine event.

You can view the video on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ tifton.gazette.

Thank you, good folks, for making a good day great. And by the way...the cookies were yummy!

You may reach Angye Morrison at angye.morrison@gaflnews.com.

 

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