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Published On: Tue, Feb 11th, 2014

Legendary singing and dancing child star Shirley Temple dies at age 85

Shirley Temple, the enchanting singing and dancing child star with the beautiful corkscrew red curls who also helped America escape from the emotions of the Great Depression, died Monday night. She was 85. 

A statement from Temple’s agent stated that she died at her Woodside, California home surrounded by her family and caregivers.

Shirley TempleTemple, who much later in life served as a foreign ambassador and diplomat for four U.S. presidents, died in her longtime home in Woodside, Calif., her nephew, Richard Black, told The Hollywood Reporter. She recently had begun receiving hospice care.

Beginning at age 6, Temple starred in 46 films by the age of 13. It was in the film Bright Eyes that she sung her famous song: “The Good Ship Lollipop.”

“On the good ship Lollipop … It’s a sweet trip to a candy shop … Where bon-bons play … On the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay,” she sang. The sheet music sold a half-million copies.

With the country still reeling from the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed, “As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Temple at age 6 with the first Juvenile Academy Award “in grateful recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year 1934.” She is the youngest person ever to receive an Oscar statuette, miniature or otherwise.

Her mother Gertrude did her hair for each movie, with 56 corkscrew curls each time. Temple was No. 1 at the box office for four straight years from 1935 through 1938.

A staunch Republican, Temple unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1967 on a platform supporting America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. A year later, President Nixon appointed her a U.S. delegate to the United Nations. She later served as the U.S. ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia and as the State Department’s chief of protocol.

In 1972 at age 44, Temple was one of the first public figures to openly discuss having a mastectomy, paving the way for open discussion of a formerly taboo health subject. “It is my fervent hope that women will not be afraid to go to doctors for diagnosis when they have unusual symptoms,” she said then.

In 1988, Temple had published her best-selling autobiography, Child Star, and received Kennedy Center honors. She accepted the Screen Actors Guild’s Life Achievement Award in 2006 but stayed out of the public eye in her final years.

“When I was 3 years old, I was delighted to be told that I was an actress, even though I didn’t know what an actress was,” she said to much laughter at the SAG presentation.

“I have one piece of advice for those of you who want to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award: Start early!”

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