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Shirley Temple, the Hollywood child star who captured hearts in Depression-era America with her trademark blond ringlets and dimpled smile, has died at the age of 85, her family said on Tuesday.
LOS ANGELES: Shirley Temple, the Hollywood child star who captured hearts in Depression-era America with her trademark blond ringlets and dimpled smile, has died at the age of 85, her family said on Tuesday.
Temple, who started acting at the age of 3 and shot to stardom with songs including her signature tune "On the Good Ship Lollipop," died of natural causes on Monday night in her California home, surrounded by her family and caregivers.
"We announce with great sadness that ambassador Shirley Temple Black, former Hollywood child star and forever 'America's little darling,' peacefully passed away at her Woodside, California," a family statement said.
Her death, announced at 3:00 am local time (1100 GMT), triggered an outpouring of tributes on social media and elsewhere.
"The Good Ship Lollypop has sailed today with Shirley Temple aboard a true 1 of a kind," tweeted Oscar-winning actress and TV star Whoopi Goldberg.
Delighting audiences with her singing, dancing and sweet and simple innocence at a time when money and jobs were scarce and everyday life in America was especially challenging, the star of "Curly Top" and "The Little Princess" became, at 6, the youngest person ever to win an Oscar.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt praised her "infectious optimism" and once declared that "as long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right."
She reigned supreme at the box office for three consecutive years, from 1936 to 1938, and starred in more than 40 movies, most of them before the age of 12.
She won a juvenile Academy Award in 1935, and a lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild in 2006, according to the movie industry database website IMDb.
Later in life she also served as US ambassador to Ghana and what was then Czechoslovakia, as well as a US delegate to the United Nations General Assembly.
Shirley Temple Black, to use her married name, also battled breast cancer in the early 1970s.
"We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and most importantly as our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and adored wife of fifty-five years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black," said her family.
Born April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California, Shirley Jane Temple made her debut in "Baby Burlesques," short films which parodied the major motion pictures of the day, but in which children played the leading roles.
In them, she mimicked film diva Marlene Dietrich and Tarzan's love interest, Jane, among others.
After the controversial films were banned in 1933, the child star turned to feature films and starred in "Stand Up and Cheer" the following year.
Several movies followed in the years to come, including "Bright Eyes," which featured her trademark song, "On the Good Ship Lollipop," followed by "Heidi" and "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm."
Egged on by her mother to "sparkle, Shirley, sparkle," she became a wildly popular child star.
Though she made films as a teenager and a young woman, such as "The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer" with Myrna Loy and Cary Grant and "Fort Apache" with John Wayne, Henry Fonda and John Agar, her first husband, her career lacked the luster it had in its early years.
After divorcing Agar, she met the man who would become her second husband, Charles Black. They wed in December 1950 and she continued acting on television and radio.
In the 1960s, she took on a new role in politics, serving as a US delegate to the UN General Assembly under then president Richard Nixon. She went on to become the US ambassador to Ghana and, later, the then Czechoslovakia.
Black was feted by the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in 1998, and she was named one of the greatest movie stars of all time by Premiere magazine and Entertainment Weekly.
She also figures on the American Film Institute's list of the 50 Greatest Screen Legends.
Charles Black died on August 4, 2005.
She is survived by her three children Lori, Charlie and Susan.