Shirley Temple Black was a childhood star during the 1930s and into the 1940s. She remained an actress until 1965, and then two years later, she began her second career as a US ambassador. Black’s third and highest valued job was being a wife to her husband, Charles Black, and a mother to her three kids.
The singer, dancer and actress first appeared on screen in 1931 at the age of 3. When she was 5-years-old, Black shot to international stardom with the film “Bright Eyes.” In 1935, she was given the Juvenile Academy Award for her contributions as a young performer. Some of Black’s other popular films from this time in her life include “Curly Top.” “The Littlest Rebel” and “Heidi.”
When she was 15, the star met Army Sergeant John Agar, who married her two years later in 1945. In 1948, Black gave birth to their daughter Linda Susan. Later, Agar became an actor, and he starred alongside Black in “Fort Apache” and “Adventure in Baltimore.” The couple divorced in 1949, and Black retained custody of their daughter.
A year later, at the age of 21, she met Navy intelligence officer Charles Alden Black, and they quickly fell in love. They got married in 1950 and shared two children together, Charles Jr. and Lori. All three of the actress’s children are close and speak highly of their mother. She remained married to Charles until his passing in 2005 and passed away herself in 2014 at the age of 85. Keep reading to hear what Black’s family had to say about her.
Even though she was internationally known and went on to have a full career as an ambassador after acting, being a mom was the most important role to Black. She always carved out time for her family and made sure they had a normal upbringing. “We had a lot of parties,” her eldest child Linda Susan said. “We had a lot of fun decorating the dining room.”
Black was able to forge close relationships with her children, and they remember her fondly. “Being a wife and mom is the greatest of her achievements,” her daughter added. “We were shopping and travel buddies. We went to many places together. She was one of my very best friends.”
The singer and dancer could be serious at home, but she also made sure to enjoy her time with her family. “She was devoted and generous, and she could be a little stern if we didn’t behave. But she was also a lot of fun. Very inventive and imaginative. She was all about her children and her husband,” Linda Susan said.
Black was busy with her career but always made time for her loved ones. In fact, the mother “seemed very normal to us,” her son Charles Black Jr. said. “The only time I noticed her star quality was when someone else would ask for her autograph. She was an amazing person.”
The mom of three did everything she could to provide for her family despite her busy schedule. “She was wonderful — and normal,” Charles Jr. added. “We had dinner at the table every night all together.”
Shirley Temple, Susan, Lori, Charles Jr. (1956), (Bettmann/Getty Images)
Linda Susan had the opportunity to travel with her mom when she was working as an ambassador. “We ordered things we had no idea what they were off the menus and fiddled with whether or not we were tipping enough,” she recalled. “But she was very interested in what was happening, and always up for an adventure.”
In 2021, Black’s memory was honored with a Google Doodle on the website’s homepage. Her granddaughter, Teresa Caltabiano, partnered with Google to create the image. “If you’ve seen a Shirley Temple movie, you have in a sense gotten to know who she was as a person,”
Caltabiano said to Newsweek. “The feisty heroines she played who loved their families and who wanted to make the world a better and happier place was a reflection of her genuine character.”
As the granddaughter of a Hollywood legend, what Caltabiano remembers is Black’s strength of character. She added, “Growing up, her character was tempered by the Depression and World War II, as was her awareness of the need to serve others. Her brother’s MS diagnosis and later her own mastectomy strengthened her conviction that she could have a positive effect, not only in her own family but around the world.”
Caltabiano is the daughter of Linda Susan, and she echoed her mother’s sentiments about Black’s dedication to her family. She said, “At the heart of everything was her family. We were blessed to know her, her love, her courage, and her strength. She is still deeply loved and truly missed, and we treasure our memories of her.”
Shirley Temple Black (2006), (Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic/Getty Images)
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