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Still America's Sweetheart

As Shirley Temple celebrates her 70th birthday, FoxVideo issues a collection of musical numbers.

April 30, 1998|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

One of the most memorable moments on the Academy Awards last month was seeing Shirley Temple participate in the reunion of former Oscar winners. When her name was announced, the audience at the Shrine Auditorium responded with unabashed enthusiasm. And the dimple-cheeked Temple flashed that same bright smile that endeared her to audiences more than 60 years ago.

It's hard to believe that Temple, who was the No. 1 box-office attraction for several years in the 1930s, turned 70 last week. In celebration of her birthday, FoxVideo has released "Shirley Temple--Sing and Dance Along" ($15). Targeted for the small fry, the tape features colorized versions of musical numbers from Temple's classic films. Each sequence features the words to the songs.

Most of the films Temple made before her retirement in 1950 are available on video. The majority of these films is available in both the original black-and-white and colorized versions.

After appearing in a series of shorts called "Baby Burlesks," which satirized popular movies of the day, Temple made a big impression in the 1934 musical "Stand Up and Cheer" (Fox, $20), in which she sings "Baby Take a Bow." Warner Baxter also stars in this dated Depression-era musical comedy.

Temple appeared in a total of nine films in 1934 and was given a special Academy Award at the age of 6 for her "outstanding contributions to screen entertainment."

"Now and Forever" (Universal, $15), also from 1934, is an atypical Temple vehicle. In fact, it's really not for the kiddies. Temple plays the daughter of a widower (Gary Cooper), a handsome con man who just can't go straight. Carole Lombard is the object of Coop's affections. The film is available only in the colorized version.

Temple is adorable in 1934's "Little Miss Marker" (Universal, $15). She plays a tyke who is left with a bookie (Adolph Menjou) by her gambler father as an IOU. It's based on a Damon Runyan tale and is available only in the colorized version.

"Bright Eyes" (Fox, $15 and $20), also from 1934, is a sickly sweet tale in which Temple plays a perky orphan. The bright note is Temple's rendition of "On the Good Ship Lollipop."

In 1935's "Curly Top" (Fox, $15 and $20), a serviceable remake of "Daddy Long Legs," she once again plays a plucky orphan. Tunes include the darling "Animal Crackers in My Soup" (Fox). Rochelle Hudson and John Boles also star.

"Poor Little Rich Girl" (Fox, $15 and $20), released in 1936, is one of Temple's best. She plays a motherless rich girl who runs away from home and is "adopted" by a vaudevillian couple (Alice Faye and Jack Haley). Numbers include "When I'm With You" and the terrific "Military Man." Gloria Stuart of "Titanic" also is featured.

Temple turns on the charm in 1937's "Heidi" (Fox, $15 and $20), a treacly version of Johanna Spyri's classic tale about a young girl and her Swiss grandfather (Jean Hersholt).

Legendary John Ford directed Temple in 1937's "Wee Willie Winkie" (Fox, $15 and $20), a so-so period adventure set in India that is based on a Rudyard Kipling story. Victor McLaglen also stars.

Get out your hankies for her best film, 1939's "The Little Princess" (Fox, $15), an enchanting adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's children's novel. Set in Victorian-era London, Temple plays a young girl who is sent to a strict boarding school after her widowed army officer father (Ian Hunter) leaves to fight in the Boer War. Penniless after her father is listed as killed, she must work as a servant in the school. The astonishingly handsome Richard Greene, Anita Louise, Arthur Treacher and Cesar Romero also star. This is Temple's first film in Technicolor.

Temple made a few memorable films in her later teens, including 1944's "Since You Went Away" (Fox, $40), a long, sentimental but moving World War II drama about a family trying to keep things together on the home front. Temple plays the youngest daughter of family matriarch Claudette Colbert.

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