The Truth About Shirley Temple's Second Husband Charles Black

Shirley Temple, at the age 22, had recently ended a four-year marriage with actor John Agar when she met Charles Black at a cocktail party in Honolulu in 1950. It was a meeting that almost never happened. Black lived in Honolulu at the time, working for Dole Hawaiian Pineapple and other firms. But according to SFGate the young businessman and U.S. Navy veteran spent most of his time in the water on a longboard. Had surf conditions been good that day, Black might never have met the woman who became his wife of 55 years.

The two were introduced at the party, and Black did not recognize the curly-haired former child star, who (according to her website) had been dubbed "America's sweetheart." He asked if she was a secretary, to which she answered (via SFGate), "I can't even type. I make films." Shirley Temple Black told SFGate years later in an interview, "It was very refreshing to me — a handsome guy who wasn't interested in Hollywood or anything about it." A young woman with over 40 films on her resume, she was on the verge of leaving show business behind. Active in the Republican party, Shirley Temple Black would go on to serve overseas as a diplomat.

Charles Black had led a busy life

Perhaps we can excuse Charles Black for not knowing who Shirley Temple was, or ever having seen a Shirley Temple movie, because he'd had a busy life up until then. Born in Oakland and raised in San Francisco, Black was descended from Cherokee chief Oconostota, and also had ancestors on the Mayflower, according to SFGate. His father was James Black, president of Pacific Gas and Electric (per the Stanford University alumni page).

Charles Black attended Hotchkiss, the prestigious residential high school in Connecticut. Then he earned a degree from Stanford University in three years, according to Stanford Alumni Notes. It was after that Black started a long and decorated military career. Joining the Navy in 1941 as an intelligence officer, Black rode torpedo boats like the one pictured above to scout and disrupt supply chains behind enemy lines in Indonesia during World War II. Patrolling by small boat armed with torpedoes was a dangerous mission, as the National Park Service relates, with high casualties. Black made over 100 such missions, earning the Silver Star for valor.

'Mr. Shirley Temple'

Charles Black lived in Tahiti after World War II, where he could sail in more peaceful waters. He traveled back to the U.S. by sailboat, sailing over 7,000 miles. After meeting Shirley Temple at the cocktail party in Honolulu in 1950, he wooed her by singing a Tahitian love song. So the former child star, who herself had sung to millions on screen, was won over with music. The couple was later married at Black's parents' house on California's Monterey peninsula.

Charles Black, the decorated World War II veteran, was thrust into fame when he married the world-renowned (now grown) child star Shirley Temple. But according to his son, he took it in stride. Charles Black Jr. said of his dad in an SFGate interview, "When I was a young kid, I heard him called 'Mr. Temple.' Some men would have been bothered by it ... He didn't care."

When Shirley Temple Black was appointed as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, Charles accompanied her on that venture. Later, when she served as an ambassador to Ghana under President Gerald Ford in 1976 and an ambassador to Czechoslovakia under President George H. W. Bush in 1989 (via the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic), Charles accompanied his wife on both assignments.

Charles and Shirley Temple Black 'adored each other'

Through all his support of his wife's career, Charles Black did not ignore his own. According to SFGate, Black went back into the Navy during the Korean War and later worked in aquaculture, founding Mardela Corp., which farmed salmon and catfish. According to his son, he continued his involvement with espionage, working with the CIA to help raise a sunken Soviet submarine from the bottom of the Pacific in the 1970s. He was a trustee of the University of Santa Clara and a member of the board of the College of Notre Dame, according to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, of which he was an honorary member.

Despite demanding careers, the couple found time for each other. According to Charles Black Jr., his parents "adored each other" and "didn't sleep apart from each other for more than a couple of days" (via SFGate). Charles Black died of complications from bone marrow cancer on August 4, 2005. Shirley Temple Black said of her husband, "He was the love of my life."