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Former child star Shirley Temple dies

Los Angeles: Iconic child star Shirley Temple Black, who rose to stardom at a very young age by starring in Depression-era films 'Bright Eyes' and 'Heidi', has passed away at the age of 85.

Shirley Temple
A picture taken on March 23, 1998 in Los Angeles shows US Shirley Temple Black, a former Oscar winner, arriving at the 70th Annual Academy Awards ceremony. Pic/AFP

She died at her Woodside California home on Monday night at around 11 pm, surrounded by family and caregivers, her agent said in a statement. "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 statement read.

The curly-haired star made her acting debut at the age of three, going on to become the most famous child stars of all times, by starring in hits like 'Bright Eyes', 'Stand Up and Cheer' and 'Curly Top'. She ruled Hollywood from 1935 to 1938, a feat that is yet to be matched by a child star.

The song 'On the Good Ship Lollipop' in the film 'Bright Eyes' went on to become her signature tune. In 1935, she became the first child star to be honoured with a miniature Juvenile Oscar "in grateful recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year 1934."

Shirley Temple
A file photo taken on June 26, 1937, shows US film star Shirley Temple arriving at her first main premiere for the film 'Wee Willie Winkie' in Hollywood. AFP PHOTO

She is still the youngest person to receive the award the age of six. President Franklin D Roosevelt had also acknowledged her influence. "It is a splendid thing that for just fifteen cents an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles," he had said.

At the peak of her career, many Temple products were released. Shirley Temple dolls raked up USD 45 million in sales before 1941. Such was her influence that she was even a subject of a painting by famous Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali.

She retired from films in 1950 at the age of 22, having appeared in 43 films, after a string of unsuccessful movies at the box-office. Temple married actor John Agar at the tender age of 17 and they had a daughter. After her divorce with Agar, Temple married California businessman Charles Alden Black with whom she remained until his death in 2005.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1972 and was one of the first prominent women to speak openly about the disease after undergoing a mastectomy. Temple unsuccessfully ran for the Congress in 1967 and was the US Ambassador to Czechoslovakia shortly before the fall of the country's Communist regime.

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