LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

UNDATED (CBS) -- She was America's sweetheart. Shirley Temple Black was one of the first children to make it in the movies, carried along by her adult-sized talent.

Her dancing and singing, and those 52 perfect pincurls, lifted peoples' spirits during the dark days of the great depression.

Born outside Los Angeles in 1928, Temple Black was only 3 when she was discovered at a dance school.

Her breakthrough came in the film "Bright Eyes" in 1934, with what would become her trademark song, "The Good Ship Lollypop".

She was known for her professionalism and for outshining her adult co-stars.

Temple Black even broke racial barriers, although scenes where she held the hand of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson had to be cut in the segregated South.

But she had increasing trouble attracting roles as she grew older. She eventually left acting, and entered a new spotlight in government service.

Temple Black was ambassador to Ghana from 1974to 1976 and Czechoslovakia 1989to 1992 and was appointed the first female chief of protocol of the United States.

She credited her first career with making her second career possible. She said, "I think I've been most fortunate by having the opportunities presented to me because of little Shirley. She's opened a lot of doors for me."

She later called her family her greatest achievement. After a brief marriage in the 1940s, Temple Black spent nearly 55 years married to businessman Charles Black. She had three children.

And she'll be known for another achievement, fighting the stigma of breast cancer. Temple Black was the first celebrity to say on national TV she was batting the disease.

Yet for all her adult accomplishments, this Academy Award-winning actress will be best remembered for her childhood roles as new generations of fans discover America's biggest little star.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://on.kthv.com/1gn48R5