J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, signs Shirley Temple's autograph book after he was made a member of the Shirley Temple Police Force on August 16, 1937. (AFP/Getty Images)
WOODSIDE, Calif. -- Shirley Temple, the curly-haired child star who put smiles on the faces of Depression-era moviegoers, has died. She was 85.
Publicist Cheryl Kagan says Temple, known in private life as Shirley Temple Black, died surrounded by family at her home near San Francisco.
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"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 55 years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black," the family statement said.
The statement said that the star known as "America's Little Darling" died from natural causes at 10:57 p.m. Pacific standard time on Monday.
A talented singer, dancer and actress, Shirley Temple was America's top box-office draw from 1935 -- the year she turned 7 -- until 1938. She was credited with helping save 20th Century Fox from bankruptcy with films such as "Curly Top" and "The Littlest Rebel."
In 1999, the American Film Institute ranking of the top 50 screen legends ranked Temple at No. 18 among the 25 actresses.
Temple blossomed into a pretty young woman, but audiences lost interest, and she retired from films at 21. She raised a family and later became active in politics and held several diplomatic posts in Republican administrations, including ambassador to Czechoslovakia during the historic collapse of communism in 1989.
"I have one piece of advice for those of you who want to receive the lifetime achievement award. Start early," she quipped in 2006 as she was honored by the Screen Actors Guild.