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Meet: Shirley Temple Black, first female U.S. Chief Protocol
and first child actress to win an Academy Award

photo of shirley temple black

Although you might first think of Shirley Temple Black as the child star who danced and sang her way into America's hearts in the 1930's, her achievements and accomplishments in her adult life have reached far more people globally.

As a child, Shirley starred in more than 40 major motion pictures and 50 major television productions. She received an Oscar Award in 1935. Although many child actors and actresses have difficulty moving from the entertainment industry into business or other careers, Shirley Temple Black is a remarkable exception. She has been able to blend her quick wit and style with warmth and grace to become one of our nations most respected diplomats.

In 1969, Mrs. Black became a U.S. Delegate to the United Nations. In the years that followed, she served as a U.S. Delegate to many International Conferences and Summits on cooperative treaties and human environment. In 1976, she became the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States. From this position she moved on to the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana from 1974-1976, then U.S. Chief Protocol, then an officer for the U.S. Foreign Affairs Department, and later in 1989 to U.S. Ambassador to Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. As the first female U.S. Chief Protocol of the United States, she was in charge of implementation of all State Department visits, ceremonies, gifts for foreign heads of state, and liaison to all foreign embassies and consulates located in the U.S.A. Protocol is the diplomatic procedure governed by law or international custom and practice. The Department of State first established a Division of Protocol in 1928. All incumbents since 1961 have held the rank of Ambassador.

Diplomatic skills and the ability to create a climate among people where they can discuss issues of mutual concern are extremely important. Though her diplomatic skills kept her busy in the political arena, Mrs. Black has also lent her expertise in the business sector sitting on the Corporate Board of Directors for such major companies as Del Monte, Bancal Tri-State, Fireman's Fund Insurance, and Walt Disney Productions.

Her professional activities currently include board and council memberships on the Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Council of American Ambassadors, and the World Affairs Council. She has also served on the boards of the United States Commission for UNESCO, the National Committee on U.S. - China Relations, the United Nations Association, the American-China Society, and the U.S. Citizens's Space Task Force. She was a founding member in 1983 and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Diplomacy and was Co-founder of the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis societies.

Mrs. Black received honorary doctorates from University of Santa Clara and Leigh University, a Fellowship from College of Notre Dame, and a Chubb Fellowship from Yale University.

Some of the skills that have been critical to her success include negotiating skills, studying international events and problem areas, and, most importantly, teamwork. A turning point in her political career was when she served as a delegate to the United Nations, focusing her work on diplomatic relations. Her personal contacts with both Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart gave her drive and perseverance, and Mrs. Black credits them both with being her key role models.

Although her varied career has kept her active, she still found time to raise a wonderful family, her greatest accomplishment and joy. She has three children and one granddaughter and currently lives in Woodside, California with her husband Charles Black. She truly enjoys being a wife, mother, and grandmother. Her hobbies include golf, gardening, fishing and cooking.

Archived QuestChats with Shirley Temple Black

 
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