Here's How Much Shirley Temple Was Worth When She Died

In Old Hollywood, there was arguably no bigger name than Shirley Temple, and her star could have shined a lot longer if she didn't surprise the industry by retiring at just 22 years old. While her early retirement was likely shocking at the time, we now know just how hard life can be for child actors, some of whom ultimately have tragic adult lives with unhappy endings.

According to her IMDb page, Temple starred in nearly 50 films over 18 years of acting, and at one point she was making $50,000 for each one (via History). Also, in 1936, her income was the seventh highest in the country. By the time she called it quits, Business Insider reports she had made an estimated $3.2 million. Adjusted for inflation, that would be an astonishing $43 million. Unfortunately, Temple didn't retire to a bank account filled with all of her earnings — instead, she had a fraction of that amount. Without the money from her time in Tinseltown, what did Temple do next?

Shirley Temple's fortune was built after she quit acting

When Shirley Temple retired from acting, she asked about her money and was told that, of the $3 million she earned, only $30,000 remained (via HuffPost). The rest had gone to her parents and other family members. Sadly, this isn't an uncommon experience for child stars. HuffPost also reports that laws designed to protect the income of these actors still leaves 85 percent of it up for grabs.

With only a fraction of her earnings left to her devices, Temple was largely forced to make her own way for the next 60 years of her life. And that she did. Post-Hollywood, Temple and her husband moved to Washington D.C., where she then embarked on what would be a highly successful political career (via Smithsonian). Throughout her life, Temple was a United Nations delegate and a U.S. ambassador to both Ghana and Czechoslovakia — not bad for a former child star whose earnings were all but lost. 

It's thanks to positions like those above that Temple was able to amass a fortune worth $30 million at the time of her death, but it's hard not to imagine what could have been if Temple's Hollywood money had actually gone to her (via Celebrity Net Worth).