Written By: Ben Cosgrove

Shirley Temple Black—known to millions as simply Shirley Temple, who acted in scores of movies and was arguably the greatest child movie star of all time—was a constant presence on the silver screen during the Great Depression, lighting up movies like Stand Up and Cheer! and Bright Eyes with her singing, dancing and her sharp (but never cloying) wit. She retired from the movies when she was just 21, in 1950, and continued with her remarkable life, shifting into the world of international politics. She held a number of diplomatic posts during her lifetime, including U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia during that country’s convulsive years in the late 1980s.

After her death, Temple Black’s family paid tribute to her in a statement that read, in part, “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 for fifty-five years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black.”

Liz Ronk edited this gallery for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

Shirley Temple arrives at the 20th Century Fox studio to celebrate her eighth birthday, 1936.

Shirley Temple arrived at the 20th Century Fox studio to celebrate her eighth birthday, 1936.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Shirley Temple celebrated her eighth birthday, 1936.

Shirley Temple celebrated her eighth birthday at 20th Century Fox in 1936, when, in the middle of the Great Depression, she was the biggest box office star in America.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Shirley Temple celebrates her eighth birthday, 1936.

Shirley Temple celebrated her eighth birthday, 1936.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Shirley Temple celebrates her eighth birthday, 1936.

Shirley Temple celebrated her eighth birthday, 1936.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Shirley Temple, 1936.

Shirley Temple, 1936.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Shirley Temple, 1936.

Shirley Temple, 1936.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Shirley Temple taking pictures of famous sites in Washington, DC, from the window of a car, 1938.

Shirley Temple took pictures of famous sites in Washington, DC, from the window of a car, 1938.

Thomas D. McAvoy The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Shirley Temple at the Lincoln Memorial, 1938.

Shirley Temple at the Lincoln Memorial, 1938.

Thomas D. McAvoy The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Federal Bureau of Investigation director J. Edgar Hoover shows Shirley Temple how to ride a mechanical horse, 1938.

Federal Bureau of Investigation director J. Edgar Hoover showed Shirley Temple how to ride a mechanical horse, 1938.

Thomas D. McAvoy The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Shirley Temple leaving the White House, 1938.

Shirley Temple, photographed as she was leaving the White House, 1938.

Thomas D. McAvoy The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Shirley Temple walking on steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Shirley Temple walked on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Thomas D. McAvoy The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Shirley Temple walks down stairs at the Bel Air Country Club at her 11th birthday party, 1939.

Shirley Temple walked down stairs at the Bel Air Country Club at her 11th birthday party, 1939.

Peter Stockpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Shirley Temple with Sgt. John Agar, to whom she was married from 1945-1950.

Shirley Temple with Sgt. John Agar, to whom she was married from 1945-1950.

Peter Stockpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

More Like This

people

The Champ, The Beatles and a Tearful Girl: The Photography of Bob Gomel

people

The ‘Queen of Soul’ in ’90’s Fashion

people

What Meets the Eye: The Photography of Co Rentmeester

people

Barack Obama at 60: His Life, His Work, His Living Legacy

people

Before She Was Catwoman: Julie Newmar in LIFE

people

Van Halen: The Dave Years, the Sammy Years, the Life, the Music, and the Joy