My grandmother introduced me to Shirley Temple. She didn’t have cable in her house, but she had a VCR, and we’d watch Temple’s classic films together. I remember being envious of the energy she exuded on-screen, her perfect, bouncy curls, and the way she could turn even the coldest, meanest, old man’s heart from stone, into mush. “The Good Ship Lollipop” was my go-to audition song for community theater, but how could I choose anything else? If Shirley Temple was a star by age six, I had a lot of catching up to do.

Shirley Temple later played a role in global politics as well. She was appointed to be the US Ambassador for two countries that are very close my heart – Ghana, and the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia). I admire how she always remained true to herself, and was lucky enough not to succumb to drug or alcohol addictions. Her life was by no means easy, and many pity how her childhood was essentially snatched away from her – but then again, I’d probably take acting in film too, over regular life during the Great Depression.

I was surprised to hear about Temple’s passing, at the age of 85, but at the same time, I knew she had lived a wonderful life. It reminded me that there is always a legacy to leave behind. If you suddenly passed away, how would you want to be remembered? The answer to that question reveals so much about ourselves, our values, and what we must change to preserve that legacy. For me, Shirley Temple Black leaves behind a lifetime of talent, achievement, and love (not to mention, a delicious drink made with grenadine).

I hope someone can say the same about me some day.