Child star an all-American sensation

Bigger than Clark Gable in the movies, Shirley Temple became a US ambassador.

1928-2014 Shirley Temple

She was the biggest of child stars. She was the top US box-office draw from 1935 to 1938, bigger than Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper or Joan Crawford. She kept children singing On the Good Ship Lollipop for generations, and retired from acting at age 21 after her screen popularity waned. After a failed bid for the US Congress she went on to a diplomatic career becoming, under her married name, Shirley Temple Black, a UN delegate and later US ambassador.

Here's a 10-step look at the life of Shirley Temple, who started out in movies when she was 3 years old and died on Monday at her home near San Francisco at the age of 85.

1 How many golden curls were on her head

Her mother was said to have done her hair for each movie, with every hairstyle having exactly 56.

2 When she stopped believing in Santa Claus

At age 6: "Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph."

3 So famous they named a drink after her

The kids' cocktail for the ages: ginger ale and grenadine, topped with a maraschino cherry.

4 How she lifted people's spirits during the Depression

"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," President Franklin D. Roosevelt said.

5 How she learned to cry on cue

"I guess I was an early method actress. I would go to a quiet part of the sound stage with my mother. I wouldn't think of anything sad, I would just make my mind a blank. In a minute I could cry. I didn't like to cry after lunch, because I was too content."

6. ... And how it came in handy at age 21

Driving up the Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu in a red convertible, she was stopped for speeding. She quickly turned on the tears, and the officers ended up escorting her home.

7 Why she didn't play Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz

Because 20th Century Fox chief Darryl Zanuck refused to lend her out for the 1939 classic, though rival studio MGM did have reservations about her singing and went with first-choice Judy Garland instead.

8 Who paved the way for her to become a diplomat?

Richard Nixon appointed her to the US delegation to the UN. She went on to become US ambassador to Ghana, and to Czechoslovakia at the time of the 1989 "Velvet Revolution".

9 How many movies she appeared in

Counting her early short films, more than 60 including 12 different films in 1934 alone.

10 Her advice for actors wanting to be remembered

"I have one piece of advice for those of you who want to receive the lifetime achievement award," Shirley Temple Black said in 2006 when she was honoured by the Screen Actors Guild.

"Start early."

- AP

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