Shirley Temple, iconic child star, dies at 85

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we'll be all right."

The dimpled, curly-haired child star sang and danced her way into the hearts of Depression-era moviegoers in a film career that began when she was three years old.

Shirley Temple died last night at her home near San Francisco at the age of 85.

After retiring from films at 21, she raised a family and later became active in politics, holding several diplomatic posts in Republican administrations. When she was honored by the Screen Actors Guild in 2006, she said her greatest roles had been as wife, mother and grandmother.

The talented youngster was America's top box-office draw from 1935 to 1938, a record that no other child star has come near. She was credited with helping save 20th Century Fox from bankruptcy, with films such as "Curly Top" and "The Littlest Rebel."

She became a nationwide sensation. Mothers dressed their little girls like her, and a line of dolls was launched that are now highly sought-after collectibles.

And her ability to lift the nation's spirits during the Depression was noted by FDR, who said, "It is a splendid thing that for just 15 cents, an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles."

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136-r-25-(Sound of Shirley Temple, in "Curly Top")--Sound of Shirley Temple in "Curly Top." (11 Feb 2014)

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135-w-38-(Michael Weinfeld, AP entertainment editor, with sound from "Curly Top," Shirley Temple Black)--Shirley Temple was much more than just dimples and curls. AP Entertainment Editor Michael Weinfeld tells us, she was important to the movie industry and to the entire country. ((cut opens with sound)) (11 Feb 2014)

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124-r-32-(Shirley Temple, tap-dancing with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, from the 1935 movie "The Little Colonel")--This is an excerpt of Shirley Temple tap-dancing with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson from the 1935 movie "The Little Colonel." (11 Feb 2014)

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GRAPHICSBANK: Shirley Temple, as actress, is photographed as she appeared in Poor Little Rich Girl, on texture, with lettering, SHIRLEY TEMPLE 1928 - 2014, finished graphic (11 Feb 2014)

APPHOTO TOK301: FILE - In this November 1936 file photo, 8-year-old U.S. American child movie star Shirley Temple is portrayed in Hollywood, 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 Monday night, Feb. 10, 2014, surrounded by family at her home near San Francisco. (AP Photo/File) (1 Nov 1936)

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APPHOTO TOK307: FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2006 file photo, Shirley Temple Black accepts the Screen Actors Guild Awards life achievement award at the 12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, in Los Angeles. Shirley Temple, the curly-haired child star who put smiles on the faces of Depression-era moviegoers, has died. She was 85. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File) (29 Jan 2006)

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APPHOTO TOK302: FILE - In this 1936 file photo, actress Shirley Temple is photographed as she appeared in Poor Little Rich Girl. Temple, who was born in 1928 and began acting at the age of three, received an honorary Academy Award in 1934 for her contributions as a child film star. 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. (AP Photo/File) (1 Jan 1936)

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