Shirley Temple, “America’s Little Darling,” has passed away at age 85. She died of natural causes at her home in Woodside, Calif., “surrounded by family and caregivers,” according to a family statement.
“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 55 years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black,” the statement continues.
Temple was one of the earliest cinematic child stars, first appearing on film at age 3. She’d appeared in multiple blockbusters by age 10, including “Bright Eyes,” “Curly Top,” “Heidi,” and “The Little Princess.” She ranked as Hollywood’s biggest draw for four years straight (1935-1938) according to a poll of theater owners. During the ‘30s, she commanded as much as $50,000 per picture, a rare sum at the height of the Great Depression. She received a special juvenile Academy Award in 1935 and remains the youngest person ever to receive an Oscar.
While Temple’s popularity began to wane as she grew older, she continued to act through the 1940s, appearing in “Fort Apache” with co-stars John Wayne and Henry Fonda, and “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer” with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy.
She retired from film after marrying Charles Black, a San Francisco businessman, at age 22, ushering in a 20-year hiatus from life in the spotlight. In 1967, she returned to prominence, running as a republican candidate for congress. She lost the election, but continued in public service. From 1969 to 1974, she served in the U.S. delegation to the United Nations; she was U.S. ambassador to Ghana from 1974 to 1976 and U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992.
Funeral arrangements are pending, but a remembrance guest book has been set up at shirleytemple.com.