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'I spent most of my life as a nobody': the last of the silent movie stars

23 May 2015 2:30 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Baby Peggy made her film debut at 18 months. By 10, she was one of the biggest child stars in Hollywood. Then came the talkies – and obscurity. Ninety years on, she and other silent screen actors reveal what happened next

In 1922, when Hollywood was young and anarchic, an actor known as Baby Peggy made a silent film called The Darling Of New York. Her career was booming and this was a major role, the movie pivoting on a scene in which she would be trapped – title-cards illuminating the horror – in a burning bedroom. On the day of the shoot, propmen doused their set in kerosene. Then they positioned Baby Peggy in the middle and lit everything on fire – including, the actor thinks by accident, the door by which she was meant to escape. Forced to improvise, she had to claw a way out across a burning windowsill, her performance later praised for its realism. »

- Tom Lamont

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1 item from 2015


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