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Shirley Temple: Bright spot in US dark Depression

Published on Feb 12, 2014 9:52 AM

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Iconic child star Shirley Temple Black, who has died aged 85, shone a burst of sunlight into America's dark Depression era, famously earning President Franklin D. Roosevelt's acclaim for her "infectious optimism". Delighting audiences with her singing, dancing and simple innocence at a time when money and jobs were scarce, the star of Curly Top and The Little Princess became, at six, the youngest person ever to win an Oscar.

The actress, who went on to become a United States (US) ambassador and ran for Congress as a Republican in later life, started acting at the tender age of three, and reigned supreme at the box office for three consecutive years, from 1936 to 1938.

"As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right," Mr Roosevelt, struggling to lead the country out of the Great Depression, once declared. "When the spirit of the people is lower than at any other time during this Depression, it is a splendid thing that for just 15 cents (19 Singapore cents), an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles," he added.

She starred in more than 40 movies, most of them before the age of 12.

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