Shirley Temple RIP...Child Star, UN Ambassador, iconic woman
Shirley Temple Black dies at 85
Shirley Temple was arguably the most famous child star in Hollywood history
She died of natural causes at her California home surrounded by family and caregivers
She was a major box-office star during the Great Depression
She retired from acting in 1950 and later became a U.S. diplomat
(CNN) -- Shirley Temple Black, who as a dimpled, precocious and determined little girl in the 1930s sang and tap-danced her way to a height of Hollywood stardom and worldwide fame that no other child has reached, died on Monday night at her home in Woodside, Calif. She was 85.
Shirley Temple Black, who rose to fame as arguably the most popular child star in Hollywood history, and by some accounts the most popular movie star in Hollywood history, died late Monday night, her publicist said.
Shirley Temple Black, who also enjoyed a long career as a diplomat, died of natural causes at her Woodside, California, home. She was surrounded by family and caregivers, a statement from Cheryl Kagan said.
She began acting at age 3 and became a massive box-office draw before turning 10, commanding a then-unheard of salary of $50,000 per movie.
Her first film of notice was in 1932 when she played in "War Babies," part of the "Baby Burlesks" series of short films.
For about 18 years, she sang, tap-danced and acted her way into the hearts of millions. Her corkscrew curls were popular with little girls from the 1930s through the 1970s.
Her star shone brightest as a toddler, and 20th Century Fox cranked out a series of feature films with the adorable, talented little girl. Her hits included "Little Miss Marker" (1934), "Curly Top" (1935) and "The Littlest Rebel" (1935).
At the box office, she beat out the great adult stars of her day, such as Clark Gable and Bing Crosby. Her popularity spawned a large array of merchandizing items, such as dolls, hats and dresses.
She was the top box-office star four years in a row, from 1935 to 1938, surpassing Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin. Her career was at its peak as the country was suffering the effects of the Great Depression, and her films offered uplifting moments.
But as she got older, the pace of movies slowed, and by 1939, her popularity was fading. She and 20th Century Fox terminated her contract early in 1940, just before she reached her teenage years.
The actress and diplomat, who had made more than 40 films by the time she turned 12, passed away at her home in Northern California.
Here she is with Eddie Cantor at a celebration for President Franklin D. Roosevelt's birthday in 1937. Credit: UCLA Library / Los Angeles Times
She retired from filmmaking at 22 and married Charles Black, changing her last name from Temple to Temple Black.
But she did not fade from the public eye.
She embarked on a new career as a foreign diplomat: She served in the U.S. delegation to the United Nations from 1969 to 1974 was U.S. ambassador to Ghana from 1974 to 1976, and U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992.
"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," a statement said.
She remained a cultural icon for decades after stepping down from the silver screen.
In 1958, she made a comeback as an entertainer, this time on television, in an hourlong show, "Shirley Temple's Storybook."
She later received two lifetime achievement awards for her performing career.
In 1972, Temple Black successfully battled breast cancer.
Funeral arrangements are pending. A remembrance guest book will be set up online at shirleytemple.com.