Shirley Temple, the movie and television actress and former adorable curly-haired child star, has died at her home in California, her family said in a statement. She was 85.
Publicist Cheryl Kagan said Temple, known in private life as Shirley Temple Black, died Monday surrounded by family at her home near San Francisco.
"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 for fifty-five years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black," the family statement said.
The statement said that the star known as "America's Little Darling" died from natural causes at 10:57 p.m. Pacific standard time on Monday.
A talented singer, dancer and actress, Shirley Temple was America's top box-office draw from 1935 — the year she turned 7 — until 1938. She was credited with helping save 20th Century Fox from bankruptcy with films such as "Curly Top" and "The Littlest Rebel."
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Temple blossomed into a pretty young woman, but audiences lost interest, and she retired from films at 21. She raised a family and later became active in politics and held several diplomatic posts in Republican administrations, including ambassador to Czechoslovakia during the historic collapse of communism in 1989.
In 1999, the American Film Institute ranking of the top 50 screen legends ranked Temple at No. 18 among the 25 actresses.
"I have one piece of advice for those of you who want to receive the lifetime achievement award. Start early," she quipped in 2006 as she was honored by the Screen Actors Guild.
Contributing: Associated Press
KENNEDY CENTER SHIRLEY TEMPLE BLACK BIO: http://www.kennedy-center.org/explorer/artists/?entity_id=3814&source_type=A