Famed child actress Shirley Temple died yesterday of natural causes at the age of 85, her family says. She passed away at her home in Woodside, Calif., "surrounded by her family and caregivers." Born in 1928, Temple soared to fame in the 1930s; she was three when she appeared in her first film, the BBC notes. At six, she won a special kids' Oscar, making her the youngest ever to receive an Academy Award—a distinction she still holds. Temple appeared in 46 films and "one-reelers" before she was 13, the Hollywood Reporter notes, and she was America's biggest box-office draw for four consecutive years, outpacing even Clark Gable. The Reporter explains her star power with these standout figures: An average 16,000 letters were sent to her a month; one birthday, fans sent her 167,000 presents.
Temple was spotted at a Los Angeles dance school, and soon appeared in a series of one-reelers called "Baby Burlesks," which she later called "a cynical exploitation of our childish innocence that occasionally were racist or sexist." Her first feature film was Stand Up and Cheer in 1934, the BBC reports; at age 6, she was making $1,250 per week—with her mother serving as her hairstylist for each film, forming an exact 56 curls every time. At 21 in 1950, she retired from the silver screen (the AP has a list of her feature films), though she appeared on television in the 1950s and 1960s. She went on to become a US diplomat and foreign ambassador under four different presidents. Temple is survived by three children. (Read more Shirley Temple stories.)