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Baby Peggy
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Peg O' the Mounted

Baby Peggy (born Peggy-Jean Montgomery, and now Diana Serra Cary) was to the 1920s what Shirley Temple was to the 1930s. For just four short years, Baby Peggy was one of the biggest child stars in the world. Born in October 1918, she was only five years old when she made Peg O' the Mounted (1924). Though released in 1924, it had actually been shot the year before.

The film was one of many that she made for director Alfred Goulding, a former vaudevillian and comedy veteran who would later direct many of Carole Lombard's short films for Mack Sennett. Peg O' the Mounted was shot on location at Mission San Fernando Rey, in what is now the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles, and at Camp Curry in the famed Yosemite Valley, which was often used by film companies instead of packing crews off to the wilds of the Yukon. Ironically, Yosemite had also been Baby Peggy's home before she went to Hollywood, when her father was hired to be a ranger there. In support of Baby Peggy was Bert Sterling, who also wrote the original story on which the film was based, Sweetheart of the Mounted, which had been the film's working title, and character actor Jack Earle.

Peg O' the Mounted is the story of a little girl who lives with a Mountie in the wilds of the Yukon. When the Mountie unsuccessfully tries to bring in a gang of moonshiners, Baby Peggy, a little girl of great imagination, decides to hunt down the gang herself. The head moonshiner turns out to be a giant of a man, and the contrast between the tiny girl and the giant is used for comic effect. Jack Earle stood a whopping eight feet tall. Doctors said he would have become even larger, but for a car accident, which resulted in a head injury that damaged his pituitary gland and miraculously stopped his growth. Finding film work very limited for a man his size, Earle left motion pictures a few years later and went to work for the Sells and Flotos Circus before his death at 46.

Peg O'the Mounted was released on February 27, 1924, and received a glowing recommendation from The Film Daily: "Don't let this one pass, because it's a thoroughly enjoyable short reel. That's all you need to know."

Producer: Abe Stern, Julius Stern
Director: Alfred J. Goulding
Screenplay: Bert Sterling (story)
Cast: Baby Peggy, Bert Sterling, Jack Earle
BW-10m.

by Lorraine LoBianco

SOURCES:
"Peg O' the Mounted" The Film Daily 17 Feb 24
The Internet Movie Database
Iwerebor, Vera Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room
"Baby Peggy: An Interview with Diana Serra Cary" www.silentsaregolden.com
Villecco, Tony Silent Stars Speak: Interviews with Twelve Cinema Pioneers

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