She considered her background in entertainment an asset to her political career.
“Politicians are actors too, don’t you think?” she once said. “Usually if you like people and you’re outgoing, not a shy little thing, you can do pretty well in politics.”
Born in Santa Monica, Calif., to an accountant and his wife, Temple was little more than 3 when she made her film debut in 1932 in the Baby Burlesks, a series of short films in which tiny performers parodied grown-up movies, sometimes with risque results.
Temple’s expert singing and tap-dancing in the 1934 movie “Stand Up and Cheer!” first gained her wide notice.
Her 1942 film “Miss Annie Rooney” included her first on-screen kiss, bestowed by another maturing child star, Dickie Moore.
Her appeal faded as quickly as it had emerged. She missed a shot at playing Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” when 20th Century Fox chief Darryl Zanuck refused to lend out his greatest asset; the part went to Judy Garland. And “The Little Princess” in 1939 and “The Blue Bird” in 1940 didn’t draw big crowds, prompting Fox to let Temple go.
Among her later films were “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer,” with Cary Grant, and “That Hagen Girl,” with Ronald Reagan.
After her film career ended, she concentrated on raising her family and turned to television to host and act in 16 specials called “Shirley Temple’s Storybook” on ABC. In 1960, she joined NBC and aired “The Shirley Temple Show.”
Her 1988 autobiography, “Child Star,” was a best-seller.
Temple married Army Air Corps Pvt. John Agar, the brother of a classmate at Westlake, her exclusive Los Angeles girls’ school, in 1945. He took up acting and the pair appeared together in two films, “Fort Apache” and “Adventure in Baltimore.” She and Agar had a daughter, Susan, in 1948. The actress filed for divorce the following year.