Thursday, July 1, 2010

Baby Peggy

Considering all she has been through, Diana Serra Cary is a survivor. And a remarkable one at that. She is also, as Baby Peggy, one of the last surviving silent film film stars. Should you ever have a chance to see Captain January (perhaps her best surviving film), do so! It is wonderful.

And should you ever come across her recently reissued autobiography,What Ever Happened to Baby Peggy: The Autobiography of Hollywood's Pioneer Child Star, read it! It too is wonderful - a great read, a moving memoir. When I read a few years ago, and I think I fell a little bit in love with the author's indomitable spirit.

Today, I published a two pieces on this diminutive actress  - one was in the book section of the Huffington Post. My article is called "The Bookseller Who Became an Author and Who Once Had Been the Biggest Little Film Star in the World." It tells the story of Diana Serra Cary after she left Hollywood. The other was  a short article on (Today, Kenneth Turan also ran a piece on the actress in the Los Angeles Times.)

If you live in Los Angeles or San Francisco, you have a chance to meet Baby Peggy in person. Cary, aka "Baby Peggy," will give a short talk and introduce her 1924 film, Captain January, at the Cinefamily's Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles on July 7th. And, she will be signing copies of her books at the Castro Theater in San Francisco on July 16th as part of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Don't miss one of these opportunities to meet a real movie star - a living legend.

OK, so you may be wondering, what does all this have to do with Louise Brooks, as Baby Peggy's film career was largely over with by the time Brooks' had started. Nevertheless, the one-time child star did encounter a few individuals who also figure in Brooks' story.

For example, one of the Baby Peggy's major films was Helen's Babies (1924), which co-starred Brooks' contemporary, Clara Bow. And in her autobiography, Baby Peggy tells a story about The Captain Hates the Sea (1934), a film in which her mother had a bit part as a dress extra. That Lewis Milestone film starred John Gilbert, and also featured three actors with whom Brooks worked - Leon Errol ("Louie the 14th"), Victor McLaglen (A Girl in Every Port) and Akin Tamiroff (King of Gamblers).

And, as the picture above shows, the 13 year old Baby Peggy also met Louise Brooks' former husband, director Eddie Sutherland. She is pictured in the middle, between her parents on the right and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (with a monkey on his head) watched by a smiling Sutherland on the left. [Image courtesy of Diana Serra Cary.] Below is a short, three minute film in tribute to Baby Peggy and her appearance in Pordenone, Italy in 2005.

1 comment:

  1. So that's what What Ever Happened to Baby Jane must be based on!


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