Baby Peggy (Diana Serra Cary)
(Born 10/26/1918)

Diana Serra Cary, (October 26, 1918 -) best known as Baby Peggy Montgomery, was one of the three major American child stars of the Hollywood silent movie era.

Baby Peggy was "discovered" at the age of 19 months, when she visited Century Studios on Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood with her mother and a film extra friend. The Montgomery family was already somewhat involved in the motion picture industry: Jack Montgomery, a former cowboy, worked as a stuntman and stand-in for Tom Mix in his cowboy movies. Impressed by Peggy's well-behaved demeanor and willingness to follow directions, director Fred Fishbach hired her to appear in a series of short films with Century's canine star, Brownie the Wonder Dog. The first film, Playmates was a success, and Peggy was signed to a long-term contract with Century.

Between 1921 and 1924, Peggy made close to 150 short comedy films for Century. Her movies often spoofed full-length motion pictures, social issues and stars of the era; in one, Peg O' the Movies, she satirized both Rudolph Valentino and Pola Negri. She also appeared in film adaptions of novels and fairy tales, such as Hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstalk, contemporary comedies, and a few full-length motion pictures.

In 1923, Peggy began working with Universal Studios, appearing in full-length dramatic films. Among her works from this era were The Darling of New York, directed by King Baggot, and the first screen adaptation of Captain January. In line with her status as a star, Peggy's Universal films were produced and marketed as "Universal Jewels," the studio's most prestigious and most expensive classification.

The success of Baby Peggy's films catapulted her to superstardom. When she was not filming, she embarked on extensive "In-Person" personal appearance tours across the country to promote her movies. She was also featured in several short skits on major stages in Los Angeles and New York, including Grauman's Million Dollar Theatre and the Hippodrome. Her likeness appeared on magazine covers and was used in advertisements for various businesses and charitable campaigns. Peggy was also named the mascot of the 1924 Democratic Convention in New York, and stood onstage waving a flag next to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Baby Peggy's film career abruptly ended in 1925 when her father had a falling out with Sol Lesser over her salary and cancelled her contract. She found herself essentially blacklisted and was only able to land one more part in silent films, a minor role in the 1926 picture April Fool.

From 1925 to 1929, Peggy enjoyed a successful career as a vaudeville performer. While her routine, which included a comedy sketch and a dramatic monologue, was initially met with skepticism, it soon became a popular and respected act. Although she was prohibited from "playing the Palace" due to her young age, she appeared onstage there as a special guest. Peggy and her family toured the United States and Canada, performing in major venues, until vaudeville died out with the advent of talkies.

The vast majority of Baby Peggy's films have not survived and records related to their production have been lost; Century Studios burned to the ground in 1926. In addition, another older actress named Peggy Montgomery was active in Hollywood Western films between 1924 and 1929; her credits are occasionally confused with those of Baby Peggy. Filmographies at major websites are incomplete, and sometimes incorrect, because of these facts.

A handful of Baby Peggy shorts, including Playmates, Miles of Smiles and Sweetie have been discovered and preserved in film archives around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The full-length movies The Family Secret, April Fool, Captain January and Helen's Babies have also survived, are in the public domain, and have been restored and made available for sale by several independent film dealers.

Available Films

April Fool (1926)

Captain January (1924)

The Family Secret (1924)