Shirley Temple might have been America’s sweetheart when she was a little girl, but an embittered ex-husband tried to derail her diplomatic career as an adult.
And it took Ronald Reagan to come to the rescue by vouching for her to the FBI.
The startling story was made public by the Daily Mail from documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
They show Temple’s first husband, John George Agar, tried to sabotage former child star in 1969 when the FBI was doing a background check on her because then-President Richard Nixon was considering nominating her to be the United States representatives to the United Nations General Assembly.
Agar told agents his ex-wife was “emotionally unstable,” would “overreact if she didn’t get her way,” and that he would “hesitate to recommend [her] for a position of trust and confidence in the Federal government,” according to the Daily Mail.
Enter Reagan, a former actor like Temple and longtime friend who was governor of California at the time. His statement to the FBI was a forthright endorsement, maintaining her “loyalty, morals, character, reputation and associates to be beyond reproach,” according to the documents
“He said he had never heard anything derogatory about [Temple] and he highly recommended her for a position of trust and responsibility in the United States government,” the Daily Mail reported.
Other recommendations – though some with reservations – helped Temple land the UN post, though she held it for only a few months. She remained active in Republican politics and diplomacy though — to history-making effect.
Nixon named her ambassador to Ghana, a post she held from 1974-76. President Gerald Ford named her the first chief of protocol for the United States in 1976.
Under George H.W. Bush, she was the United States ambassador to Czechoslovakia, where she befriended the country’s dissident movement in the turbulent final years of the Soviet Union and the “Velvet Revolution” that ended communism in that country.
Temple, whose second marriage to Charles Alden Black lasted until his death in 2005, died in 2014 after a career that took her from the Hollywood set to the world stage.
And Ronald Reagan, whose career did much the same — but to a much greater impact — played a big role in that.
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