One of Hollywood’s early child stars has died. Shirley Temple passed away at the age of 85, according to her family, as reported by BBC. She was at her home in Woodside, California when she died from natural causes Monday night.
Temple began her film acting career in 1932 at the tender age of three. She shot to international fame in Bright Eyes, a feature that exploited her natural talents. In 1935 she received a special Juvenile Academy Award for her “outstanding contribution as a juvenile performer to motion pictures during 1934.” Other hits followed such as Curly Top and Heidi. She reached her crescendo through the mid to late ’30s and her image was capitalized through licensed merchandise such as dolls, dishes and clothing. As she aged, her box office prowess waned and she left the film industry while still only in her teens and retired completely from films in 1950, still only 22. In 1934, Temple left her footprints and handprints in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood and received a star on the Hollywod Walk of Fame in 1960.
Still, Temple made television appearances in the ’50s and ’60s, including a sitcom pilot that was never released. She served on the boards of corporations and groups such as the Walt Disney Company, Del Monte Foods and the National Wildlife Federation. She made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Congress in 1967, and was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Ghana in 1974 and to Czechoslovakia in 1989. She received honors including a salute at the Kennedy Center and a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. The American Film Institute ranks her as 18th in its list of the greatest female American screen legends of all time.
Shirley Temple was born on April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, CA. She gave birth to daughter Linda Susan from her first marriage to John Agar, which ended in divorce in 1950. She later wed Alden Black and had another daughter, Lori in 1954. Black died in 2005 also at home in Woodside from bone marrow disease.
“She was surrounded by her family and caregivers,” a family statement said, according to BBC. “We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and… our beloved mother, grandmother [and] great-grandmother.”