Diana Serra Cary, the child star of the silent film era known as Baby Peggy died on Monday in California. She was 101.
She was 2½-year-old in 1921 when Century Studio cast her as Baby Peggy, opposite Brownie the Wonder Dog, and by age 5 she had appeared in as many as 150 short films and a handful of popular features.
Cary starred as Little Red Riding Hood in 1922 in a short film of the same name and in Hansel and Gretel (1923) in another short; took part in a bullfight in Carmen Jr. (1924); escaped from a burning building in The Darling of New York (1923); and ran a lighthouse in the heart-tugging Captain January (1924).
Most of her films have been lost; many were destroyed in a fire that consumed the old Century Film Co. studios in 1926 and decaying celluloid have left only a few of her vintage films in museum archives, in the Library of Congress and on the internet, including “Playmates” (1921), “Miles of Smiles” (1923), “Helen’s Babies” (1924) and “Captain January” (1924).
Her autobiography, Whatever Happened to Baby Peggy?, was published in 1996, and she was the subject of the 2012 documentary, Baby Peggy, the Elephant in the Room, directed by Vera Iwerebor.
Survivors include her son, Mark, and granddaughter, Stephanie. Her husband of 48 years, artist Robert Cary, died in 2003, and her sister, Louise, died in 2005.