Famous for her corkscrew curls and dimpled smile, Temple died Monday of an undisclosed illness while receiving hospice care in her Woodside home, her nephew, Richard Black, told the Hollywood Reporter.
As a child, Temple was an icon whose singing and dancing cheered millions in the Depression-era 1930s, but through the syndication of her old movies on television and eventual release on home video, they had a modern-day audience as well.
Her career as a child star spanned the years between the ages of 6 and 12, when she was Hollywood's greatest celebrity, a curly-haired tot who seemingly could do no wrong on the silver screen.
As Shirley Temple, she won the adoration of millions of fans and earned a fortune of more than $3 million with such films as "Little Miss Marker," "The Little Princess," "Baby, Take a Bow," "The Little Colonel," "Curly Top," "Dimples," "Heidi" and "Captain January."
An entire industry developed around the the little girl that every mother in America tried to get their daughters to imitate. The Shirley Temple phenomenon spawned dolls, coloring books, dresses, breakfast dishes and jewelry -- much of it now eagerly sought by collectors throughout the world.
She savored her later private years as the wife of Charles Black, owner of an oceanography firm on the San Francisco peninsula, and as a mother.
They had two children -- daughter Lori and son Charles A. Black, Jr. Temple also had a daughter, Linda Susan, by her first husband, John Agar. She became a grandmother on Dec. 20, 1980, when Linda Susan gave birth to a daughter.
Shirley Temple Black found politics as thrilling as her childhood film stardom and made an unsuccessful bid for a congressional seat in 1967.
President Richard Nixon appointed her to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations in 1969. She traveled to countries everywhere as a member of U.S. delegations to international conferences. In 1972, Nixon appointed her ambassador to Ghana and it was while she was serving in that African nation that Linda Susan married Roberto Falaschi, first secretary of the Italian Embassy.
When she battled breast cancer in the 1970s, she shared the experience with the world and encouraged others to get regular exams.
"I want to urge other women, please, please, not to wait," she said from her hospital room. "It could be, would be all right as long as they didn't wait too long. Don't sit home and don't be afraid."
Stacks of mail poured in offering support and from women promising that they, too, would get physical checkups for cancer.
In 1989, she was appointed ambassador to Czechoslovakia by President George H.W. Bush. She served until 1992 when she retired from politics.
She also at various times served on the boards of The Walt Disney Co., Del Monte, Bank of America, the Bank of California, BANCAL Tri-State, Fireman's Fund Insurance, the United States Commission for UNESCO, the United Nations Association and the National Wildlife Federation.