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Former child actress Shirley Temple Black dies, aged 85

Shirley Temple Black, the child actress who became famous for her song-and-dance roles in a number of highly successful Hollywood films, has died at the age of 85. She later had an active political and diplomatic career.

Shirley Temple Black, who was known during her film career under her maiden name of Shirley Temple, died in California on Tuesday of "natural causes," according to a family statement.

"We announce with great sadness that ambassador Shirley Temple Black, former Hollywood child star and forever 'America's little darling' peacefully passed away at her Woodside, Califonia home from natural causes," a family statement said.

"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 of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black," the statement went on.

After beginning her film career at the age of three in 1932, she achieved international fame in 1934 in the film Bright Eyes, which fully showcased her talents and curly-headed, dimpled appearance.

She went on to make a number of other film hits, including Curly Top and Heidi, during the mid-to-late 1930s.

'Good Ship Lollipop'

She became associated with a number of songs, including "Animal Crackers in My Soup," the signature song of Curly Top, and "On the Good Ship Lollipop" from the movie Bright Eyes.

Although she made a few films as a teenager, these were no longer as successful as the earlier ones, and she finally retired completely from the film business at the age of 22, only making occasional television appearances in later years.

After leaving show business, she ran unsuccessfully for the United States Congress in 1967. After that, she was appointed US ambassador to Ghana in 1974, and to Czechoslovakia in 1989.

Her autobiography, entitled Child Star, was published in 1988.

tj/ipj (Reuters, AP)