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Hollywood Icon Shirley Temple Dies In California At 85

Reported: Feb. 11, 2014 6:06 AM EST
Updated: Feb. 11, 2014 8:44 AM EST
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WOODSIDE, Calif. (AP) -- Shirley Temple, the dimpled, curly-haired child star who sang, danced, sobbed and grinned her way into the hearts of Depression-era moviegoers, according to publicist Cheryl Kagan. She was 85.

Temple, known in private life as Shirley Temple Black, died at her home near San Francisco.

A talented and ultra-adorable entertainer, Shirley Temple was America's top box-office draw from 1935 to 1938, a record no other child star has come near. She beat out such grown-ups as Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Robert Taylor, Gary Cooper and Joan Crawford.

In 1999, the American Film Institute ranking of the top 50 screen legends ranked Temple at No. 18 among the 25 actresses. She appeared in scores of movies and kept children singing "On the Good Ship Lollipop" for generations.

Temple was credited with helping save 20th Century Fox from bankruptcy with films such as "Curly Top" and "The Littlest Rebel." She even had a drink named after her, an appropriately sweet and innocent cocktail of ginger ale and grenadine, topped with a maraschino cherry.

She made an unsuccessful bid as a Republican candidate for Congress in 1967. After Richard Nixon became president in 1969, he appointed her as a member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations General Assembly. In the 1970s, she was U.S. ambassador to Ghana and later U.S. chief of protocol.

She then served as ambassador to Czechoslovakia during the administration of the first President Bush. A few months after she arrived in Prague in mid-1989, communist rule was overthrown in Czechoslovakia as the Iron Curtain collapsed across Eastern Europe.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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