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Shirley Temple: From child star to ambassador

In 1975, Morley Safer went to Ghana with its newest ambassador, Shirley Temple Black. But was she taken seriously?

This week marked the death of one of America’s most beloved child stars, Shirley Temple, who starred in more than 50 films. With her jubilant personality and bouncy ringlets, Temple has been credited with no less than cheering up the country during the Great Depression.

When Morley Safer interviewed her on 60 Minutes, she was no longer “Little Shirley,” but “Ambassador Black.” The year was 1975, and the 46-year-old, married mother of three was about to embark on a new career as the U.S. ambassador to Ghana.  

MORLEY SAFER:  I'm sure you probably realize it must be hard for an awful lot of people to take Shirley Temple seriously.

SHIRLEY TEMPLE BLACK: But Shirley Temple Black, I think they are.

MORLEY SAFER: Well, okay, but Shirley Temple. Seriously, is that a part of your life you'd just as soon forget and get rid of and not even think about?

SHIRLEY TEMPLE BLACK: No, I think we all learn from the past. I just feel we shouldn't live there. We shouldn't live in the past. I live for today.

When asked if she thought the public’s memory of “Little Shirley” would serve as a disadvantage to her political career, she said it’s been quite the opposite:

“I think I've been most fortunate by having the opportunities presented to me because of “Little Shirley.” She's opened a lot of doors for me."