Baby Peggy 96th Birthday celebration at Niles Essanay Museum

Last November at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont, California I got to celebrate silent star Baby Peggy’s birthday and screen her classic silent Captain January (1924). The museum is located not too far from San Francisco so you can take a BART train, then a bus to the museum. It turns out the museum will celebrate her birthday every year so there are future chances if you want to meet her, get a book and a photo op. I wonder if she lives in the area or just comes out of tradition.

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I have known about Baby Peggy or as she is now known, Diana Serra Cary, since I was a little girl. On my father’s bookshelf there was a book called Whatever Became of…? There was a page on Baby Peggy, Gene Tunney, Patsy Kelly and more.

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Diana told me she knows about that book and that is part of the reason she came out of hiding so to speak. She struggled with her Hollywood past but now has come to terms of how important she is from a historical context..that she is one of the last remaining figures from the silent era. Already we’ve lost many from the early talkies so it’s very remarkable to still have a silent legend. At the time, Carla Laemmle was still alive at 104. Diana stated she was glad she still had an older role model.

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I did buy her autobiography What Ever Happened to Baby Peggy: The Autobiography of Hollywood’s Pioneer Child Star. Yet I still haven’t finished it. Jackie Coogan: The World’s Boy King: A Biography of Hollywood’s Legendary Child Star, Hollywood’s Children: An Inside Account of the Child Star Era, and The Hollywood Posse: The Story of a Gallant Band of Horsemen Who Made Movie History are her other book titles that I hope to read. As you may know I’ve been reading a few autobiographies lately. Diana’s books aren’t just autobiographies written to record her life but also expressions and accomplishments of her love of writing and history.

Baby Peggy is my favorite female child star not because I favor her movies but because I look like her. In Seoul while waiting for the metro, a fellow passenger took some interest in her since he has a close friend in his 90s. I described Baby Peggy as having my features; dark hair, square-shaped head and a button nose. “She was very cute” I mentioned “so I guess I’m cute too.”

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