She and her husband also ran a greeting -cards business … 6: In 2012 a documentary on her life was released, "Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room". Documentary about an extraordinary lady, Diana Serra Cary. Despite a ton of publicity and vague promises by studio bosses, she never amounted to more than an extra in most of these films, essentially acting so her family could eek out money to live and eat. She wrote a book called Hollywood’s Children on the subject, and her campaigning with fellow silent child star Jackie Coogan led to the California Child Actor’s Bill (or “Coogan Law”) – which regulates child actors’ pay, education and time off. The government-sanctioned harassment of Martin Luther King Jr. provides the chilling spine of 'MLK/FBI,' a documentary timed to the annual holiday for the civil rights icon. In the early 1920's she was one of Hollywood's first major child stars, Baby Peggy. According to Rena Kiehn of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Cary died Monday in … You also have the option to opt-out of these cookies. ‘Laugh!’ And I would laugh.”. The films she made, boisterous numbers that delighted audiences in the 1920s, were largely destroyed. *The Darling of New York (Baby Peggy’s first feature tailored for her. The world turned its back on the silent stars, rather than the other way around. “Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room” is a little gem of documentary brought to us by the hard-working folks at Milestone Film, which will truly light your day. As a result only 4 Baby Peggy features exist, only one short fully exist and 11 shorts exist in varying condition (mostly thanks to the extreme and wonderful efforts of UCLA and David Stenn). Mary Pickford, Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson AND Baby Peggy were tops at the box office. ), *The Darling of New York (Baby Peggy’s first feature tailored for her. Baby Peggy was A STAR, not just some bit player, either. By 1923 she was making $1.5 million a year (adjusted for inflation this would be roughly $15 million a year) and her fame was equal to the top stars of the time. In 1921 a 20 month old Baby Peggy was paired off with Century Studios big star, “Brownie the Wonder Dog”. But the film industry has not always been kind to the silent era. This site is run by A Star for Baby Peggy with permission from the Cary Family. Cary recalled in that interview that her expressiveness, which was remarkable for such a young performer and indelible on screen, was in part due to her obedience to her father. It was tricky to whip up excitement about the new world of synchronised sound while admitting that, actually, the old movies were pretty great. And last week, Cary’s fans were distraught to learn that her request for medical assistance from the Motion Picture and Television Fund, a benevolent charity for the entertainment industry, had been turned down. Miranda Hart has revealed she's taking a break from her career and social media following the death of her beloved dog Peggy last week. It is a simple, succinct documentary. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website. After making 42 successful short films (similar to TV shows of our time) Peggy graduated to her own starring features at Universal in 1923 at the age of 5. The documentary Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room, also available on disc, tells Cary’s story in her own words, from her remarkable childhood to her writing career. 8 Preserved by Archives du Film du CNC France as well as LOC), *The Family Secret (buy restored DVD here), *Helen’s Babies (Featuring Clara Bow in an early role), *Eight Girls in a Boat (Peggy played Hortense), *The Return of Chandu (Peggy played Judy Allen, Party Guest), *Hollywood on Parade (This was a promotional short with the Our Gang kids), *Eight Girls in a Boat (Peggy’s role was that of one of the Swiss Boarding School Girls), *Ah Wilderness! Since 2012, there has been an online campaign to get Cary a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – which would seem about right for a woman who received a million fan letters – but so far to no avail. According to Rena Kiehn of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Cary died Monday in … Baby Peggy later used the name Diana Serra Cary. The child actor — a toddler when she debuted in … Cary’s first contribution to the silent cinema was to make joyous movies. 7: Interviewed as one of 31 former child stars "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (But Don't Have Sex or Take the Car)" by Moore, Dickie (984, Harper & Row). At the time of her death, Baby Peggy had been retired from the film industry for 95 years. It lasts less than an hour and is composed principally of archive film footage, talking head interviews with Cary and still photographs. At … Forced by the Depression, loss of her childhood earnings and her family’s inability to make a living in such a rough economy, Peggy was pushed back into film in 1932 at the age of 14. In 2012 a campaign was started to get Baby Peggy a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame via Indiegogo. But her achievements didn’t end in the 20s, Last modified on Thu 22 Feb 2018 15.31 EST. These cookies do not store any personal information. Diana Serra Cary, once known as silent film star Baby Peggy, has died at 101. Louise Brooks and Gloria Swanson died in the 80s, Gish and Greta Garbo in the 90s. Fans contacted the fund via email and Facebook to voice their outrage in great numbers, but as yet the decision has not been reversed. To make matters worse, nitrate film stock is one of the most explosive and volatile formats ever used for any artistic endeavor (it has the ability to explode into fire even under water.) Directed by Vera Iwerebor. At the time of her death, Baby Peggy had been retired from the film industry for 95 years. The 97-year-old former child actor Diana Serra Cary, AKA Baby Peggy, is the last surviving megastar of the silent era. Happy 95th Birthday, Baby Peggy! Stellar work … fans of Baby Peggy, shown here on the poster for the 1923 film Little Miss Hollywood, are campaigning to get her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Directed by Vera Iwerebor, the film basically takes us from the early years of Baby Peggy, to her later years, with Peggy herself doing the narration, almost always accompanied by her young granddaughter. Earlier this year, the Guardian interviewed one of the last remaining silent film actors. Almost two decades later, a documentarian helps Peggy uncover the truth about what happened. With Baby Peggy, Hobart Bosworth, Jack Earle, Jack Montgomery. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. While Peggy’s films were subject to being melted down, the biggest loss came when Century Studio’s archives burned to the ground in 1926. Peggy was afraid of the first Brownie, so he was quickly replaced. Baby Peggy was one of the 70. Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room was produced by Dutch filmmaker Vera Iwerebor and tells Cary's story as she wrote it in her 1996 memoir Whatever Happened to Baby Peggy: The Autobiography of Hollywood’s Pioneer Child Star.  Praised as America's sweetheart, Baby Peggy, who later changed her name to Diana Serra Cary, became one of the most famous actors of Hollywood's silent era. After a brief stint in vaudeville, and an even briefer screen comeback as a teenager in the 30s, Cary has largely devoted her life to writing and to improving the conditions of other child actors. Upon giving birth, Peggy receives conflicting narratives about her infant’s fate, with one doctor claiming that her baby had passed, and another claiming it was thriving. Documentary on Iconic Child Star of Silent Film Comes to DVD (Trailer) John Anderson. At five, she had starred in nearly 150 films and had another $1.5 million contract to her name. Silent films were thought of as useless as yesterday’s newspaper, more fit for salvaging the silver content than preserving for feature generations. The wonderful documentary about Baby Peggy -- at age four she was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood's golden age! At the age of 5, Diana Serra Cary, better known as child superstar Baby Peggy, was a self-made multimillionaire, the star of nearly 150 shorts and three feature films. Naturally, she did precisely as she was told. Paired in her first films with a performing dog named Brownie, before striking out alone, Peggy is an adventurous tomboy with an impish grin and a precocious certainty about her gestures – a genuinely great movie actor, just kindergarten-sized. Estimates vary, but essentially 70% to 90% of all silent films are lost. *The Kid’s Pal (First teaming of Brownie and Baby Peggy), *Third Class Male (8 mins exist, preserved by Silents are Golden), *Brownie’s Little Venus (22 minutes exist, Preserved by UCLA and Cinémathèque Suisse), *Sea Shore Shapes (First pairing of Teddy the Dog and Baby Peggy), *Get-Rich-Quick Peg (19 minutes exist, Preserved by Nederlands Filmmuseum and UCLA), *Circus Clowns (Preserved by MOMA, Last Appearance with Brownie, released on The Family Secret DVD), *Tips (Filmed at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles), *Little Red Riding Hood (11 minutes exist, Preserved by UCLA and Filmarchiv Austria), *Fools First (With Richard Dix, Claire Windsor and Raymond Griffith), *Sweetie (21 minutes exist. So when studios did try to preserve films, archives were known to blow up at a moments notice, costing thousands if not millions in damage and usually taking a few lives with them. The documentary Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room, also available on disc, tells Cary’s story in her own words, from her remarkable childhood to her writing career. She made one final film, “April Fools” in 1926 at the age of 8. One of the many remarkable things about 97-year-old Cary is that she doesn’t seem to be bitter about the way she was treated by the film industry and her own family. Photograph: Jason Merritt/WireImage. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. These cookies will be stored in your browser only with your consent. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. Many Hollywood stars lost their fortunes in the Wall Street crash of 1929; others turned to unprofitable business ventures or to drink and drugs. A new documentary now aims to bring the story of Baby Peggy back to the forefront. Many people unfamiliar with silent film don’t understand just what we as a culture have lost. Some moved behind the scenes or revived their careers on stage or TV, or made memorable returns to the big screen in later life – think Lillian Gish cocking her rifle in The Night of the Hunter. As her teenage years approached and silent films were facing the new fangled ‘talkies’, Baby Peggy’s stunning career essentially ended at 8 years old. Mickey Rooney, whose career began in the silents, died in 2014, and Jean Darling, a veteran of the Our Gang shorts, died in September this year. He had hoped for a movie career of his own, and when that failed, it was up to Cary to pursue his dream. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. A couple of months ago I watched a silent film called Captain January on TCM, along with a documentary that followed called "The Elephant in the Room." Diana Serra Cary: The Last Silent Film Star. Many of the era’s most famous stars lived long lives after their first fame. Cary explained in a statement that: “When I first contacted the MPTF more than six months ago, I never doubted it would help me. In 2012 she was the subject of a documentary entitled Baby Peggy – the Elephant in the Room. The documentary was fascinating, and Peggy Montgomery — who has since changed her name to Diana Serra Cary — provided mu My last book of 2014, and it was phenomenal. But few lived as the heroine of Billy Wilder’s brilliant Sunset Boulevard does, in seclusion in a Los Angeles mansion, fruitlessly dreaming of a comeback. During her brief career as a silent-film star, “Baby Peggy” came perilously close to death time and again. Charlie Chaplin died on Christmas Day 1977, and Mary Pickford in 1979. It was featured in the documentary Fragments) 1924 Shorts *Such is Life (on the Elephant DVD) * Peg O’ The Mounted (clip exists, available on the Elephant in the Room DVD) Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room (2012). The new HBO documentary Showbiz Kids gave us a look into what the lives of child stars are really like, including one of the very first ones to ever make it big in Hollywood: Baby Peggy. She made tremendous amounts of money but most of it went to other people, and the rest was lost when her family went bankrupt. Baby Peggy was just three years old when she signed her first contract. “My father would snap his fingers and say, ‘Cry!’ And I would cry. Baby Peggy was one of the 70.) Recent exemplary DVD releases from Milestone Films and Undercrank Productions allow 21st-century viewers to see what the Baby Peggy fuss was all about. After a series of new attempts to uncover the truth, including exhuming her infant’s alleged grave, Peggy reaches an impasse when she runs out of money. I myself stood beside Mary Pickford when the Fund was first established [in 1921], then worked on its behalf helping the needy as a teenager during the worst days of the Great Depression.”. Cary is treasured by a generation of new fans as an advocate for child actors’ rights and for the silent era itself, as well as for having the dubious honour of being the last remaining megastar from the 20s. Its title speaks to the unfortunate end to Baby Peggy's Hollywood career, and to the silence that surrounded it. 'I spent most of my life as a nobody': the last of the silent movie stars. Preserved by UCLA, Filmarchiv Austria, Lobster Films and MOMA), *The Kid Reporter (Preserved by National Film Archives London), *Little Miss Hollywood (A spliced together studio tour short that featured cameos by Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Charles Ray), *Miles of Smiles (Preserved by Nederlands Filmmuseum Amsterdam, released on Family Secret DVD), *Hollywood (This was a feature with a lose plot (ala Souls for Sale) that featured over 70 celebrity cameos. Interest in the silents wasn’t revived until the 50s at least, and then only gradually. the Guardian interviewed one of the last remaining silent film actors. (Peggy appears as a schoolgirl in the graduation scene), *Girls Dormitory (Peggy appears as a School Girl), *True Confession (Peggy played an autograph hunter), *Having a Wonderful Time (Peggy’s last role). 11 minutes survive preserved by UCLA. This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. Diana Serra Cary was one of the silent era’s biggest stars, a greatly loved child actor who went by the name Baby Peggy. More recently, Cary has been digging out her old films and accompanying them on the festival circuit, talking to a growing second fanbase about her career and her campaigns. It was featured in the documentary Fragments), *Peg O’ The Mounted (clip exists, available on the Elephant in the Room DVD), *The Law Forbids (19 minutes exist, preserved by UCLA and Nederlands Filmmuseum), *Our Pet (one reel was found in Japan in 2016), *Jack and the Beanstalk (This is the last released Baby Peggy short), *Captain January (Buy Restored DVD here. But now her fanbase is getting angry. Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room. Pushed in front of the camera aged just 19 months, Cary slogged her way through more than 150 films, both features and shorts. When we talk about silent cinema, we talk a lot about lost films, and the sadness that there are so few people alive who can tell us what is was like to work in the industry, or to watch those movies when they were first released. Where She Lies tells the gripping true story of an assaulted teen, Peggy Phillips, who gives birth out of wedlock in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1962. Peggy Jean Montgomery was born in San Diego in 1918, and found her way onto a film set before the age of two when a friend of her mother took her … HBO's latest documentary, ... Diana Serra Cary, better known as child superstar Baby Peggy, was a self-made multimillionaire, the star of nearly 150 shorts and three feature films. But opting out of some of these cookies may have an effect on your browsing experience. 11 minutes survive preserved by UCLA. The 2015 Pordenone silent film festival was dedicated to her memory. Just ten days before she died, Cary gave an interview to the silent film blog Silence Is Platinum , in which she was very frank about her life as a child star. In 2013, TCM produced a documentary about her, The Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room (Vera Iwerebor), which was released on DVD along with a selection of her films. Whether with a star on Hollywood Boulevard or some help in her own home, the time is right to repay our debt. Though her features were successful, her father’s constant arguments with the studio heads left her essentially blacklisted. The image of the fading silent film star as a deluded recluse, living in gothic isolation, is seductive but far from reality. 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