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.