Streams

"Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room"

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Diana Serra Cary, who is believed to be the last remaining major film star from Hollywood’s silent era and is the subject of the documentary “Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room,” joins us along with the film’s director, Vera Iwerebor. Peggy-Jean Montgomery was a hugely popular Hollywood star, earning $1,500,000 a year by the age of 6. But by the age of 11 her money had been stolen and squandered by her family. Six decades later, she reinvented herself as Diana Serra Cary, a film historian and advocate for laws protecting child performers. "Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room" is screening at MOMA September 5-9.

 

Guests:

Diana Serra Cary and Vera Iwerebor
News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [4]

Stacey Hanrahan from Rapid City, SD

Baby Peggy started acting in 1922, Mickey Rooney started acting in 1924. She lays claim as the first child actor/actress in Hollywood film history.

Dec. 04 2012 12:35 AM

Leonard- thank you for this fascinating interview. I had never heard of Baby Peggy but between your interview and a google search I learned about her early life, which anyone would consider shocking today. On set as a 6 y.o. she was made to run out of a burning house, and also ride under a moving train. She witnessed an animal trainer get killed by an elephant. Then her family & some ne'er-do-wells squandered her fortune (which she had no idea existed). No school, working 6 full days per week. Her family would give her a nickel for a performance.
Actors like Baby Peggy are why protections were enacted for child actors, indeed all actors.

Sep. 05 2012 01:17 PM
Tom from UWS

Have just looked online at recent photos of Ms Cary - she's still quite a beauty!

Sep. 05 2012 12:57 PM
Joe Pearce from Brooklyn, New York

I'll be interested in hearing the interview with "Baby Peggy", but I have tremendous doubts about the claim that she made $1,500,000.00 PER YEAR back then. Additionally, I don't know what is meant by "major star", but the still-very-much-with-us Mickey Rooney had a major series of silents from 1927 on in his Mickey McGuire series. He's not only still with us, but is surely the only actor in film history who can claim to have worked in movies uninterruptedly for TEN DECADES!

Sep. 05 2012 12:38 PM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.