Shirley Temple Black, the most famous child star of all time, died last night at her home in Woodside, California of natural causes. She was 85. Shirley Temple was the most popular movie star in the world for five years, from 1935 to 1939. She began her career at the age of three, in Baby Burlesks short films in which children imitated adults while dressed in diapers. When she played a supporting role in the 1934 film Stand Up and Cheer, movie audiences loved her and from that time, she was the star of many films, starting with Little Miss Marker (1934). She also starred in Bright Eyes, The Little Colonel, Curly Top, Captain January, Heidi, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and The Little Princess, just to name a few. She was given the first juvenile Academy Award when she was six, and was credited with saving 20th Century Fox, which was in danger of going out of business before Shirley was discovered.
An incredibly beautiful child, her hair was styled into 56 ringlets, a hairstyle that was then adopted by many little girls of the era. Dolls in her likeness were big sellers, even long after she’d grown up. In her teens, she continued to act, but her last movie was the 1949 release A Kiss for Corliss. She had her own television series, Shirley Temple’s Storybook from 1958 to 1961. By that time she was married to Charles Black, with whom she had two children. She also had a daughter with her first husband, then-aspiring actor John Agar, whom she married when she was 17. Shirley later went into politics and served as an ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. Predeceased by her husband, she is survived by two daughters and a son, as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. ~Alexandra Heilbron