(Reuters) - Shirley Temple Black, who lifted America's spirits as a bright-eyed, dimpled child movie star during the Great Depression and later became a U.S. diplomat, died late on Monday evening at the age of 85, her family said in a statement.
Temple Black, who lured millions to the movies in the 1930s, "peacefully passed away" at her Woodside, Calif., home from natural causes at 10:57 p.m. PST, surrounded by her family and caregivers, the statement said on Tuesday.
"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 55 years," the statement said.
As an actress, Shirley Temple was precocious, bouncy and adorable with a head of curly hair, tap-dancing through songs like "On the Good Ship Lollipop." As Ambassador Shirley Temple Black, she was soft-spoken and earnest in postings in Czechoslovakia and Ghana, out to disprove concerns that her previous career made her a diplomatic lightweight.
"I have no trouble being taken seriously as a woman and a diplomat here," Black said after her appointment as U.S. ambassador to Ghana in 1974. "My only problems have been with Americans who, in the beginning, refused to believe I had grown up since my movies."
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Black, born April 23, 1928, started her entertainment career in the early 1930s and was famous by age 6. She became a national institution, and her raging popularity spawned look-alike dolls, dresses and dozens of other Shirley Temple novelties as she became one of the first stars to enjoy the fruits of the growing marketing mentality.