October 26, 1918
The Elephant in the Room documentary about Silent Film star Baby Peggy is a must see for those interested in early film. Diana Serra Cary (Peggy) was eighteen months old when she made her first silent movie. Her father was a stuntman in westerns her mother a sometime extra. Diana was discovered by Fred Fishback a director who was impressed by a younger than two year old sitting on a stool in a room full of strangers waiting for her mother. She didn’t fidget, she didn’t cry, she didn’t wander around…her mother told her to sit quietly while she attended to business at the studio. And that is what Peggy did, she sat. For Fred she was perfect, a kid that took direction. What more could one ask for.
Baby Peggy one of the first child stars was rivaled only in popularity by four years older Jackie Coogan ‘The Kid’ (Uncle Fester on the Addams Family). Diana Serra Cary (Baby Peggy) turns 97 years young today. These past years she has graciously shown us through her writings, life in Hollywood during those pioneer years in the infancy of film making. She hasn’t acted in years but after reading her books, writing is definitely where her talents lay these days. During a resurgence of interest in early Hollywood during the 1970’s she wrote: Hollywood’s Children (1978), Whatever Happened to Baby Peggy (1996), Jackie Coogan -The World’s Boy King (2003).
Diana’s first book, The Hollywood Posse (1975) is about her stuntman father Jack Montgomery and all of those cowboy stuntmen at the turn of the century. No more cattle drives, fenced in range, where does a man on a horse go with a family to feed…Hollywood where the most popular films being made were westerns. You can’t make a western with a green horn; you need talented, experienced horsemen. This is a compelling story not only of Jack’s life but is telling about Baby Peggy’s early life and the struggles of everyday actors and extra’s trying to make a living in early Hollywood.
Happy Birthday Diana!