Shirley Temple Black Dies of Natural Causes at 85

Kimberly RipleyLife

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Shirley Temple Black, best remembered as the precocious and adorable dimpled child who sang On the Good Ship Lollipop, passed away of natural causes in her California home on Monday night. Surrounded by loved ones at the time of her passing, she was 85 year old. Her publicist Cheryl Kagan confirmed her death, and her family released a statement sharing their sentiments.

“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 for fifty-five years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black," the statement reads.

Shirley Temple was born in Santa Monica, California in 1928. Her movie career became her mother's mission in life. This wasn't a case of a mother pushing her young child into show business, however. Little Shirley was 100% on board. In her 1988 autobiography Child Star, Temple Black remarked on her relationship with her mother noting, "I was completely bathed in love."

Her career began in earnest in 1934 when she was cast as the daughter of actor James Dunn in a film called Stand Up and Cheer. Immediately after finishing her song and dance number Baby, Take A Bow, she was signed to Fox under a one year contract, which paid $150 a week.

By age 12 her career--and her dimpled appeal--had dried up. Shirley Temple, who had been educated solely on a lot at Fox Studios--was about to go to school, as decided by her mother. She attended the Westlake School for Girls--a private boarding school--and initially had a very difficult time learning to adjust to real life. At first given the cold shoulder by a school full of girls who new she was a has-been star, she finally loosened up. When they saw how much fun she really was, she enjoyed a full five years at the school through high school graduation.

Shirley Temple left the film world for good in 1950, following her marriage to Charles Alden Black. They welcomed their first son, Charles, Jr, in 1952, and a daughter, Lori in 1954. She later served as a United States Ambassador to Ghana in 1974 and to Czechoslovakia in 1989.

People from around the world have weighed in on Twitter regarding Shirley Temple's death--even the Library of Congress.

Despite Shirley Temple Black's diverse and very cultured life that took her around the world, she will be forever remembered as the little girl who wore "56 perfect blonde ringlets" in her films that were made to make people of that era happy. And that she did.

Hollywood has lost a Depression era icon, who served her country then through song and dance, and in even more official ways in later years. That little girl--and the woman she became--will never be forgotten.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Kimberly Ripley
Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A wife, mom of five and 'Nana' to Lilly and Aiden, she loves cooking for her big family and watching HGTV in her spare time. Kim is guilty of starting way more home design projects than she can finish. Visit her at Twitter and Facebook.