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Vilma Santos is widely considered as the most lastingly successful Filipino movie and television actor of all time.
She started her acting career when one of her uncles, who was a cameraman at Sampaguita Pictures, convinced her to try out for the movies. Initially, Sampaguita Pictures had planned a child star role for her in Anak, Ang Iyong Ina (1969). When Santos was in the studio, she noticed a long line of little girls. Thinking that that line was the line for her audition, she decided to queue in. The long line turned out to be for an audition for Sampaguita Pictures' offering Trudis Liit (Little Trudis).
When it was her turn to audition, she was asked by the panel to sing, dance and cry on cue. She got the part of "Trudis Liit" for which she received the FAMAS Awards Best Child Performer award for 1963.
She was cast in Sa Bawat Pintig ng Puso (1964), Maria Cecilia (1965), Kasalanan Kaya? (1968), Iginuhit ng Tadhana (1965) (with future Senator Bongbong Marcos, as future Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos) and later in its sequel Pinagbuklod ng Langit (1969).