Shirley Temple Black, Actress and Diplomat, Dead at 85

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Shirley-templeShirley Temple Black, the most famous child actress of the 1930s, passed away Monday night at her Woodside, California, home, according to her press agent. She was 85.

Temple Black died from natural causes and was surrounded by her family and caregivers, her press agent said.

Born in Santa Monica, California, on April 23, 1928, Temple got her start in movies at the age of three and by age five, she’d reached super-stardom in films like 1934’s Bright Eyes. Known for her curly blonde locks and her signature song, “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” Temple was the box office champ four years in a row in the mid-to-late thirties, topping some of the biggest adult stars, including Clark Gable, Bing Crosby and Joan Crawford.

Fans immediately fell in love with the child star, buying up all kinds of Shirley Temple merchandise like dolls, records, mugs, hats and dresses. If her picture was on them, they were big sellers.  There was even a cocktail created for her, the non-alcoholic “Shirley Temple.”

Although her popularity declined as she got older, Temple starred in several popular films of the 1940s, including The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer in 1947.

After one failed married to actor John Agar, Temple married Navy intelligence officer Charles Alden Black in 1950.  They remained husband and wife until his death 54 years later.

Temple ultimately turned to a life of public service.  President Richard Nixon named Temple a delegate to the United Nations and in the 1970s, she served as ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. In 2006, Temple received the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement award.  “I have one piece of advice for those of you who want to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award,” she told the audience in her acceptance speech.  “Start early!

Private funeral arrangements are pending.

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