As mentioned on the About page, many people have forgotten just how big a star Baby Peggy was. As we approach the 99th anniversary of Baby Peggy’s debut (March 1921) we think its about time pop culture aficionados and film fans alike realize just how big a star Baby Peggy was. Please note that for events that occurred when she grew up we refer to her as Diana Serra Cary. Below are a few selected highlights of her stunning career and legacy:
Baby Peggy’s Short List of Accomplishments
*She acted in a film with Clara Bow, visited Pickfair and posed with Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, was big enough a star to warrant a cameo in 1923′s “Hollywood”
*Though there were children stars before her (Baby Marie was one) it is arguable that she was the first major female child star, paving the path for the likes of Shirley Temple, Natalie Wood, etc
*Made over 42 shorts in a 3 year span
*Debuted before she was even 2 years old and finished her film career at the age of 8
*Baby Peggy was the last living silent film star and the 2nd oldest person to have appeared in film at the time of her death (Olivia de Havilland being the oldest).
*By the age of 5 there were Baby Peggy dolls, jewelry, wrapping paper and all sorts of merchandise. These items were hot sellers and now go for big dollars on the antique market
*Was one of the rare child actors who could actually act. Beyond acting in her incredible lifetime Diana wrote many books, articles and even ran a card company with her husband (before Hallmark was created)
*By 1923 she was receiving almost 5,000 fan letters a week. For the year of 1922 she received 1.7 million fan letters from all over the world.
*In 1923 she starred in “Darling of New York”. Despite being only 5 years old she was placed in a burning building and instructed to run out of a specific door, which caught fire quickly. She managed to save herself and not ruin the shot. Later in the same film she and Gladys Brockwell had to jump out of a 3rd story window for another shot.
*Along with Jackie Coogan, she was one of the biggest child stars of the 1920s
*She was the 1924 mascot for the Democratic party
*Around 1924 she became known as the ‘Million Dollar Baby’ (which would be about $10 million now.) To celebrate this she posed with a then million dollars worth of real jewels
*Actress Yvonne de Carlo was named for Baby Peggy (born Margaret Yvonne Middleton in 1922). “I was named Margaret Yvonne – Margaret because my mother was very fond of one of the derivatives of the name. She was fascinated at the time by the movie star Baby Peggy, and I suppose she wanted a Baby Peggy of her own”
*A young Judy Garland was a very big Baby Peggy fan. Diana believes Garland’s mother pushed her into a career due to her own success. She and Judy became close friends in the 1930s
*Particularly after Judy Garland’s death and the start of her own publishing career, Diana became a proud advocate for children actor’s and their rights. She published “Hollywood’s Children” in 1975 and in 1982 it was turned into a documentary. She later wrote a biography for her once rival, Jackie Coogan, after realizing he did not pen his own life story before his death.
*Has spoken on not only children acting but Hollywood history in numerous books, documentaries and events. Her last appearance was in the documentary “Showbiz Kids” where she was widely praised for her historical take.
*Wrote her first and only novel at the age of 99 “Drowning of The Moon”