Last Silent Film Star Offered MPTF Residence After Public Outcry

Critics sent a barrage of emails to the Motion Picture & Television Fund president before the organization helped 97-year-old Diana Serra Cary ("Baby Peggy") settle at its country home in Woodland Hills.
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Far right: Diana Serra Cary Cary as Baby Peggy, circa 1925.

This story first appeared in the Jan. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

A happy ending concluded the battle between the Motion Picture & Television Fund's Country House and Hospital and supporters of 97-year-old Diana Serra Cary, better known as "Baby Peggy," believed to be the last living film star of the silent era.

In late November, critics sent a barrage of emails to MPTF president Bob Beitcher for allegedly refusing care for Cary. Beitcher responded with a detailed email (posted on several blogs): "Diana is in no danger of being homeless. As she herself has noted, she has resources beyond her basic living expenses," he wrote, adding that MPTF had offered to send a social worker to assess her situation but that had been refused.

However, before the Christmas holiday, Cary finally met with a social worker, and MPTF reviewed the assessment and offered Baby Peggy a place at its Country home in Woodland Hills, according to a source close to the situation. 

Beitcher confirms: "After the visit to her home in Gustine by our social worker, we felt that this was the best gift we could give her and more in line with her needs than anything else: excellent living accommodations with 3 meals daily and great caregivers; terrific social engagement with her peer industry members; lots of activities she might be interested in; terrific health care on campus (the closest doctor’s office is 1 hour away from her current home in Gustine); a continuum of care if she ever needs additional clinical support; excellent nearby hospitals. She appears to be in agreement and we hope to have her living on campus before long."

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