'Secret smoker' Shirley Temple died of lung disease

Ben Arnold
Ben Arnold
'Secret smoker' Shirley Temple died of lung disease

Shirley Temple died from lung disease brought on by smoking and not from natural causes, according to reports.

The Daily Mail's website has obtained a death certificate for the former child star, which cites her cause of death as 'chronic obstructive pulmonary disease' and 'pneumonia', often a complication of the lung disease.

Temple died last month at the age of 85, with the actress's family citing 'natural causes'.

[Shirley Temple dies: Tributes for child star]

The disease, which is the third biggest killer in the US, has symptoms similar to those of emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

It's known that Temple was a heavy smoker, but hid her habit.

[Shirley Temple: Her life in pictures]

According to the Mail, during an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1979, she waited for TV cameras to be turned off before smoking, saying that she did not want to set 'a bad example' to her fans.

Beginning her film career aged just three, she was best known for her starring roles in films including 'Bright Eyes', 'Curly Top' and 'Heidi'.

She passed away on February 10 at her home in Woodside, California, surrounded by her family.

In a statement, her family 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 for 55 years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black.”