Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Watch us on Youtube Join the Archive Mailing List Read our Blog

Baby Peggy: A Tribute

Two smiling Baby Peggys (as twins).
August 26, 2021 - 4:00 pm

Watch on Vimeo

Archive events are in Pacific Time (U.S.).

A recording of this program will be available until Sept. 9.

The UCLA Film & Television Archive is proud to present a special Virtual Screening Room tribute to Diana Serra Cary, better known to cinema fans around the world as famed child actress Baby Peggy.

Over a decade before the emergence of Shirley Temple, Baby Peggy began her career as a diminutive dynamo in short silent comedies before she was two years old. At the dawning of what would become the turbulent 1920s, the precocious Baby Peggy—initially paired with a canine co-star, Brownie the Wonder Dog—provided audiences a much-needed antidote to the horrors of the recently concluded first World War. Guided from shorts to features by her father (a stuntman who had doubled for Tom Mix), she quickly became one of Hollywood’s highest paid stars—and one of its most reliable, earning the nickname “one-take Peggy.” Her captivating on-screen presence and iconic bob haircut sparked a sensation for Baby Peggy dolls and other related novelties.

A bitter financial dispute between her father and producer Sol Lesser, however, brought an abrupt end to her movie career in 1925 when she was essentially blacklisted in Hollywood at age six. Later in life she changed her name and, as Diana Serra Cary, became a noteworthy author of several successful books on the subject of child actors, including her autobiography, What Ever Happened to Baby Peggy?

Please join us in celebrating Cary’s remarkable life and legacy with a fascinating selection of Baby Peggy’s surviving films, with an introduction and post-screening conversation with writer-producer and film historian David Stenn, moderated by Associate Motion Picture Archivist Steven K. Hill.

Program notes by Steven K. Hill.

Musical accompaniment provided by Cliff Retallick!

Preservation funded by David Stenn and The Packard Humanities Institute

The Flower Girl (fragment)

U.S., 1924

In this tantalizing fragment—not seen by audiences since the 1920sBaby Peggy and her dog prepare for a playful day selling flowers.

Tinted, silent, 2 min. Director: Herman Raymaker. With: Baby Peggy, Billy Franey, Jack Earle, Joe Moore. 

Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive.


Preservation funded by David Stenn and The Packard Humanities Institute

Brownie's Little Venus

U.S., 1921

In one of the earliest surviving examples of the short comedies she made for Century, Baby Peggy is assisted by Brownie the Wonder Dog as our heroine dresses up for a family trip to the theater. Later that evening, this dynamic duo help protect their home from an intruding burglar—and Peggy’s hapless parents!

Tinted, silent, 22 min. Director: Fred Hibbard. With: Baby Peggy, Lillian Biron, Bud Jamison, Brownie the Wonder Dog.

Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in cooperation with the Cinematheque Suisse.


Preservation funded by David Stenn and The Packard Humanities Institute 


U.S., 1923

In this rags-to-riches tale, an orphaned and destitute Baby Peggy enlists the aid of a mischievous performing monkey to seek restitution for an elderly violinist. After an epic chase, she is adopted by a wealthy couple—then steals the spotlight at the evening social.

Tinted, silent, 23 min. Director: Alfred J. Goulding. With: Baby Peggy, Jerry Mandy, Louise Lorraine, Max Asher. 

Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in cooperation with Filmarchiv Austria, Lobster Films, and The Museum of Modern Art.


Preservation funded by David Stenn and The Packard Humanities Institute

The Darling of New York (fragment)

U.S., 1923

This exciting final reel of The Darling of New York was discovered by early animation archivist Tommy José Stathes and preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Baby Peggy herself nearly perished in the apartment fire scene when her only exit from the flaming set caught fire—this traumatic experience was one of Cary's most vividly remembered childhood experiences in the industry.

B&w and tinted, silent, 14 min. Director: King Baggot. With: Baby Peggy, Sheldon Lewis, Gladys Brockwell. 

Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Print courtesy of Tommy José Stathes.


Miles of Smiles

U.S., 1923

Two Peggys for the price of one! In a dual role, Baby Peggy plays the Morgan twins—one who lives with her wealthy parents, and her identical sibling, who is adopted by the impoverished owner of a small-gauge tourist train. Chaos erupts for all concerned when the chase for a lost coin and a case of mistaken identity fortuitously reunites the sisters.

B&w, silent, 24 min. Director: Alfred J. Goulding. With: Baby Peggy. 

Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art. Print courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art.


Total screening runtime: 85 min.