US screen darling and icon child star Shirley Temple dies at 85

US screen darling and icon child star Shirley Temple dies at 85

LOS ANGELES - Agence France-Presse
US screen darling and icon child star Shirley Temple dies at 85

Former child actress Shirley Temple Black died of natural causes at age 85. REUTERS photo

Shirley Temple Black, the Hollywood child star who melted hearts in Depression-era America with her trademark blond ringlets and dimpled smile, has died at the age of 85, her family said Feb. 10.

She died of natural causes on Feb. 10 evening in her California home. 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 six, 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.

Later in life, she also served as US ambassador to Ghana and the then Czechoslovakia, as well as the U.S. representative to the United Nations. She also battled breast cancer. 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.

Feature films

After the controversial films were banned in 1933, the child star turned to feature films. Several movies followed in the years to come, including “Bright Eyes,” which featured her trademark tune, “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. 
In the 1960s, she took on a new role in politics, serving as the US representative to the United Nations under president Richard Nixon. She went on to become the US ambassador to Ghana and, later, the then Czechoslovakia.