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Shirley Temple Black Dies at 85

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Everett Collection/REX USA (260664as)
Shirley Temple
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Photograph by Everett Collection/REX USA

Shirley Temple Black, the little girl who went from famous movie star to U.S. diplomat, passed away yesterday at her home in Woodside, Calif. She was 85.

The Santa Monica-born Temple was known for her curly hair and on-screen precociousness. She got her start in Hollywood at a mere 4 years old and from 1935-38 was the nation's top box office draw, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In addition to her first feature film, Stand Up and Cheer (1934), Temple went on to star in such popular films as Heidi (1937), Bright Eyes (1934), Wee Willie Winkie (1937) and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938).

"She saved what became 20th Century Fox studios from bankruptcy and made more than 40 movies before she turned 12," the Times reports.

While Temple was reportedly the pick to play Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939), Fox refused to loan her out to another studio and the part famously went to Judy Garland, according to IMDB.

As Temple grew older, audiences seemed to move on, seemingly because she wasn't the adorable little girl moviegoers had grown to love.

At age 17, Temple married fellow actor John Agar. The couple had a daughter, Linda Susan, but then divorced in 1949.

The next year, she married businessman Charlie Black, with whom she had two more children, Charlie Jr. and Lori. She took Black's last name and stayed with him until his death, in 2005.

Just before she turned 40, Temple Black delved deeply into politics.

She ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a Republican in 1967 and was appointed the U.S. delegate to the United Nations two years later, according to the Times. She was also the U.S. ambassador to Ghana in West Africa from 1974-76 and an ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1989-92.

Temple Black was also known for outspoken nature about breast cancer.

After undergoing a mastectomy in 1972, Temple Black held a televised press conference in her hospital room to encourage other women to get check-ups, according to the Times.

Temple Black is survived by her three children, a granddaughter and two great-granddaughters.

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