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Baby Peggy: Silent Era Child Actress Reminisces

Baby Peggy"It happened quite by accident when my mother took me to Universal Studios to watch a film being made. A film director saw me as he walked past. He needed a very small person to star with Brownie the Wonder Dog,” recalls Diana Serra Cary (a.k.a. the Baby Peggy of the 1920s).

According to the headline for this Geoffrey MacNab article for The Independent, the 87-year-old Baby Peggy is “the last surviving starlet of the golden age of silent film.” Not true. Just ask 95-year-old Anita Page or fellow nonagenarian Barbara Kent.

Also, claims of million-dollar contracts sound like an exaggeration. Baby Peggy was never a superstar, and major stars of the 1920s – with few exceptions such as actor-producers Mary Pickford and Charles Chaplin – were extremely lucky if they made more than $50,000 (or about $600,000 in current dollars) per film. Numbers were often inflated in the press to make the stars seem ever more glamorous and unapproachable.

And remember, most movies in those days were made in three or four weeks, as studios often cranked out about half a dozen star vehicles per star, per year. (For instance, superstar Gloria Swanson had five films released in 1922, three in 1923, and six in 1924.)

Despite my quibbles, the Independent article is well worth a read. I've seen Diana Serra Cary discuss her career as a writer, and I was quite impressed by her eloquence. Three of her books are Hollywood's Children: An Inside Account of the Child Star Era, The Hollywood Posse: The Story of a Gallant Band of Horsemen Who Made Movie History, and What Ever Happened to Baby Peggy: The Autobiography of Hollywood's Pioneer Child Star.

Baby Peggy: Silent Era Child Actress Reminisces © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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1 Comment to Baby Peggy: Silent Era Child Actress Reminisces

  1. byeby

    I'd like to see Baby Peggy's face today. She's no longer a baby. She wasn't a baby in that photo. Why did they call her BABY?