MERCED, CA— Only 19 months after her birth
in Merced, Peggy-Jean Montgomery was “discovered” on a visit to
Century Studios with her mother. Within a year she was one of the
biggest child stars in Hollywood, appearing in nearly 150 short
films and nine features during her career as Baby Peggy. Sadly, by
the time she was 8, Montgomery’s show business career was
essentially over and her fortunes had been depleted by her parents.
As an adult, Montgomery changed her name to Diana Serra Cary and
became a successful author and historian. Now, she returns to
Merced to speak at UC Merced about her history and what happened to
other child stars from the silent film era. She will also treat
attendees to a rare experience by bringing along a full two-reel
silent film in which she appeared — “The Kid Reporter,”
(1922) as well as “The Kid,” starring Charlie Chaplin and fellow
child star Jackie Coogan.
The public is invited to the presentation on Wednesday, Jan. 24
from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Lakireddy Auditorium. Parking is available
in the Library Lot and the Lake Lot on campus.
Diana Serra Cary’s book, “Hollywood’s Children,” was the basis
for a PBS documentary in 1982, and she appeared on the program. She
has also participated in other television programs throughout the
English-speaking world and published an autobiography, “Whatever
Happened to Baby Peggy?” A third book, “Hollywood Posse,” concerns
the earliest movie cowboys, one of whom was Cary’s father, Jack Montgomery.