Shirley Temple Black, child star who became diplomat, dies at 85

Tue Feb 11, 2014 2:13pm EST
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By Eric M. Johnson

(Reuters) - Shirley Temple Black, who lifted America's spirits as a bright-eyed, dimpled child movie star during the Great Depression and forged a second career as a U.S. diplomat, died late on Monday evening at the age of 85.

Black, who lured millions to the movies in the 1930s, "peacefully passed away" at her Woodside, California, home from natural causes at 10:57 p.m. local time, surrounded by her family and caregivers, her family said in a statement 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 actress 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 Shirley Temple Black, she was soft-spoken and earnest in postings in Czechoslovakia and Ghana, 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."

Tributes to Black streamed in on Tuesday following the news of her death.

Former President George H.W. Bush, who appointed Black as ambassador to the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, said she excelled as both a child star and a diplomat.   Continued...

Actress and former diplomat, Shirley Temple Black, 77, accepts the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award at the 12th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, California January 29, 2006. - RTXO6UP