''I class myself with Rin-Tin-Tin,'' Shirley Temple Black used to say when asked to explain her run as the Depression's top box office attraction. ''People were perhaps looking for something to cheer them up. They fell in love with a dog and a little girl.'' But Temple's savvy, self-effacing analysis of her appeal was intentionally off the mark. Guided by her mother's expert coaching (off camera she'd whisper, ''Sparkle, Shirley!''), Temple put champagne charm in a baby bottle and craftily supplied the dimpled, indomitable optimism we craved.
''She was a dainty little lollipop,'' according to Tatum O'Neal. Wrong: Intelligent (IQ: 158) and tough enough to laugh it off when producer Arthur Freed exposed himself to her when she was 11, Temple didn't just survive her fame. She combined exuberant talent with professionalism to become the quintessential child star.
· Little Miss Marker (1934) As a gambling IOU left among Damon Runyon's teddy-bear gangsters, little Shirley hit it big.
· The Little Colonel (1935) It's the Civil War era as unbelievable corn, but Temple and Bill ''Bojangles'' Robinson are irresistible.
· Wee Willie Winkie (1937) The mind boggles at the thought of curmudgeon John Ford directing Temple, but he brought out her best.