TODAY | February 11, 2014
>>> word that shirley temple has died at her home in san francisco . as a child, she became one of hollywood's most famous and beloved stars of all time. and later in life, she went on to become a u.s. diplomat. here is nbc's miguel almaguer. on the good ship lollipop it's a --
>> shirley temple was a mere 6 years old when this became her signature song . on the good ship lollipop
>> reporter: shirley was born to perform on april 23rd , 1928 in santa monica , california. dancing almost as soon as she could walk. she made her on-screen debut at 4.
>> i'm so tired of it all.
>> reporter: she had made more than 40 films, most before she was a teenager. shirley 's favorite costar was billy beau jangles robinson at a time when segregation was the norm. but as with many child stars , shirley 's career waned as she matured.
>> i'm 15.
>> i'm 17.
>> that's okay. i like older women.
>> after a failed first marriage, shirley wed charles black , it lasted 55 years until his death. in 1967 , she shifted focus to politics.
>> i will campaign for the congressional seat.
>> reporter: a republican supporting the vietnam war , she lost the northern california congressional race.
>> i'm dedicating my life and my energies to public service .
>> reporter: and in 1969 , president nixon appointed temple-black as a delegate to the united nations .
>> very relieved. very grateful.
>> reporter: in 1972 , at the age of 44, temple-black stunned the nation bravely revealing her breast cancer as well as her mastectomy. she's remained largely out of the limelight since the 1980s .
>> when i grow up --
>> reporter: from dimpled darling to u.s. diplomat, shirley temple -black was an american original.
>> i'd been blessed with three wonderful careers. i have one piece of advice for those of you who want to receive the lifetime achievement award . start early. have you heard
>> for "today," miguel almaguer, nbc news, los angeles .
>> you know, there's probably an entire generation of people living in the country who don't know much about shirley temple . but suffice it to say, she lived an extraordinary life.
>> but we had a couple young people on our staff this morning said, of course we know who shirley temple is when i asked them.
>> she lit up the screen like no one else.
>> she'll be missed.