Beloved actress Shirley Temple passed away in her Woodside, California home last night at the age of 85. Although her cause of death was not disclosed, the actress' publicist, Cheryl Kagan, confirmed her death with the following statement.
"She was surrounded by family members and caregivers. 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."
Born in Santa Monica, California in 1928, Shirley Temple made her film debut at just three years of age in a series of short films entitled Baby Burlesks, which featured child actors starring in parodies of feature films, including War Babies and Polly Tix in Washington. Her breakout role was in the 1934 feature Stand Up and Cheer!, where her singing, dancing and acting skills were first prominently put on display. She went on to star in six more films in 1934 alone, receiving a special Academy Award in 1935, in recognition for her, "outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year 1934."
She is considered to be the greatest child actor of all time, becoming the top box office draw between 1935 and 1938, a feat no other child star has come close to eclipsing. She beat out top adult draws such as Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Robert Taylor, Gary Cooper and Joan Crawford. She is even credited with saving 20th Century Fox from bankruptcy with hits such as Curly Top and Littlest Rebel, and even had a drink named after her, made of ginger ale and grenadine, topped with a maraschino cherry.
She continued to work throughout the 1930s and 1940s and, even though she blossomed into a beautiful young woman, she retired from acting at the age of 22 in 1950, the same year she married her husband of 55 years, Charles Alden Black. She returned to the industry in 1958 with the anthology series Shirley Temple's Storybook, which ran on NBC from 1958 to 1961. She later became active in politics and held a number of diplomatic posts. She was appointed as the U.S. ambassador to Ghana in 1974, and later as the U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia, during Communism's collapse in 1989.
The actress is survived by her daughters Susan and Lori and son Charles.