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Shirley Temple Black (Reuters)

Former child star Shirley Temple Black dies

(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, a family spokeswoman said in a statement.

Temple Black, who lured millions to the movies in the 1930s, "peacefully passed away" at her California home from natural causes at 10:57 p.m. local time, 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 fifty-five years," the statement said.

As Shirley Temple, she was precocious, bouncy and adorable with a head of curly hair, tap-dancing through songs like "On The Good Ship Lollipop." As Ambassador Black, she was soft-spoken and earnest in postings in Czechoslovakia and 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."

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.


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