Former child movie star Shirley Temple Black has died, her agent has announced in a press release.

Temple made her screen debut in 1932 in a short film called Runt Page and went on to become arguably the most popular child actor of all time in such films as Poor Little Rich Girl, Heidi, Blue Bird, Stowaway.

She passed away yesterday at her California home from natural causes surrounded by her family and caregivers, a family statement said.

"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 of fifty-five years," the statement said.

Born in 1928, Shirley was married twice and had two daughters and a son.

As a child, Temple topped the box office from 1935 to 1938, earning more money for studios than the likes of Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Robert Taylor, Gary Cooper and Joan Crawford.

By 1939, her popularity declined. Although she continued to act in more adult roles in movies such as Since You Went Away (1944), The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) and Fort Apache (1948) for which she was paid the considerably sum of $110,000.

She later married San Francisco businessman Charles Black and became Shirley Temple Black. From the late 1960s, she was increasingly active in Republican Party politics in the US and went on to serve as US ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia and hold other government-related positions.