She died peacefully from natural causes at her home in California.
Her family released a statement saying: "We announce with great sadness that ambassador Shirley Temple Black, former Hollywood child star and forever 'America's little darling' peacefully passed away at her Woodside, California, home from natural causes, at the age of 85, on February 10, 2014 at 10:57pm (6.57 GMT). She was surrounded by her family and caregivers.
"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."
She is survived by her children Susan, Charlie jr, and Lori, granddaughter Teresa and great-granddaughters Lily and Emma.
The actress's face and voice are imprinted on generations of people around the world as a result of her performance of the song On The Good Ship Lollipop in the film Bright Eyes.
The youngster, who was just six at the time, was seen with her hair in ringlets and wearing a checked pinafore dress, and the unforgettable rendition made her one of the biggest box office draws of the era.
Shortly after, she starred in films such as Curly Top and The Littlest Rebel, helping the US cope with the depression of the 1930s. And she was credited with helping save the film company 20th Century Fox from bankruptcy.
But after retiring from the entertainment world in her early 20s - with an honorary Oscar under her belt when she was six - she carved out a role as a distinguished diplomat, serving as the US ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.
Ms Temple Black was also a delegate to several international commissions and was involved with the United Nations. She was the first woman to serve as US chief of protocol in the Department of State.
Her public service saw her on the advisory council and board of directors for numerous organisations involved with anything from criminal justice to health charities or wildlife bodies. She also sat on the board of directors for the Bank Of California and the Walt Disney Company.