FILM LOVERS: Please Show Support For Baby Peggy!

UPDATE 11/30/15: The MPTF will be taking steps to reassess Ms. Carey’s situation. They should be making a decision about providing her with in-home care by the end of 12/2/15. Let’s cross our fingers that something will get done!

UPDATE 11/28/15: Ron Hutchinson has released a statement from Diana Serra Cary about her situation; I’ve included it at the bottom of this post. 

Today I heard the news that the legendary Diana Serra Cary, aka Baby Peggy, has just been refused financial support from the Motion Picture and Television Fund (MPTF). Ms. Cary is 97 and in need of non-medical assistance to supplement the small pension she currently lives on. Apparently, her pension is considered “enough” by the organization and her silent era career is deemed too insignificant to qualify her for aid.

Baby Peggy color

Friends, this is a disgrace. Here’s more details:

From the Vitaphone Project’s Ron Hutchinson:
———————————
URGENT! PLEASE READ, THEN RESPOND WITH REQUESTED ACTION!
Baby Peggy (Diana Serra Cary), beloved star of silent films, received over a million fan letters for her 150 shorts and features. Her highly-praised autobiography, Whatever Happened to Baby Peggy?, spawned a feature-length documentary. Now 97 and healthy but alarmingly frail, she has attempted for months to find financial support for modest in-home, non-medical care from the Motion Picture and Television Fund (MPTF), founded by her screen contemporaries Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin with one stated mission: “Taking Care of Our Own.”

Instead of honoring this, MPTF management has refused Baby Peggy any support whatsoever, claiming her limited time in the motion picture industry and modest pension (which covers only bare living expenses) prevents this. In other words, her childhood should have been longer — and now she is effectively not poor enough.

Such shameful treatment of our oldest surviving silent star is particularly indefensible given the MPTF CEO, Bob Beitcher, reportedly earns over $700,000 per year, while his top ten employees take home a total of $4 million.

This outrageous situation needs high visibility to hopefully change the MPTF’s mistreatment of a movie pioneer. I ask everyone to join forces and make the MPTF take immediate, compassionate action. Here’s how:

1) Email MPTF CEO and President Bob Beitcher at bbeitcher@mptf.com and tell him he needs to quickly reverse his organization’s appalling refusal to provide assistance to Ms. Cary, and fund her need for in-home, non-medical support. Copy your email to info@MPTF.com
2) Re-post this right now on your own page, and any others you feel are appropriate. We need to get the word out fast! Baby Peggy’s situation is urgent!
3) “Like” MPTF’s Facebook Page at
https://www.facebook.com/mptf/?fref=ts then post a comment about its disgraceful refusal of support to Baby Peggy despite its mission statement to do so. (You can learn about the MPTF mission at http://www.mptf.com/about
and see how they are ignoring their own charter here.)

Taking the above actions will cost you nothing, and will mean the world to a frantic senior citizen who spent her childhood making movies that have entertained the world ever since. Diana Serra Cary is aware of this post, and saddened it has come to this juncture. Ever since the MPTF’s founding, she had always assumed it would be there in time of need; after all, that was always its entire purpose.

Please help spread the word and make the MPTF abide by its mission!

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Updated 11/28/15: Here is a statement from Ms. Cary about her situation, courtesy of Ron Hutchinson:

“When I first contacted the MPTF more than six months ago, I never doubted it would help me. I myself stood beside Mary Pickford when the Fund was first established, then worked on its behalf helping the needy as a teenager during the worst days of the Great Depression.

At age 97, I remain in blessedly good health, but have become too frail to move around unattended. Thus my own 21st century quest for Fund support. I requested a sum above my University of California pension in order to obtain in-home, non-medical care.

For the next three months, the Fund made continual demands for documents from me to prove my need was genuine (at one point I was told to obtain Social Security records at my own expense, even though my career preceded its existence, and a simply Google search would verify it), then informed me “your income exceeds basic living expenses.” But since these living expenses are at a bare minimum already, I cannot afford in-home non-medical care without support.

I am now deeply stressed from worry and embarrassment, forced to seek loans piecemeal from sympathetic friends. Ironically, this is the very indignity that Mary Pickford herself founded the Fund to prevent.

My health has worsened in the past six months as a result of this ordeal. I can see now how easy it is to become homeless. At my age, this is a terrifying thought.”

 

Please, please help! It will only take a few minutes of your time, and Ms Cary will appreciate it!

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20 thoughts on “FILM LOVERS: Please Show Support For Baby Peggy!

  1. That IS really sad! 97 eh? The picture is adorable! She should write up a protest (or dictate one) to put in the local paper. Freedom of the press! That would get them where they live! In their wallets…

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  3. Here’s the reply I received from that rude man just now–I hope nobody donates to this sorry excuse for a charity. I’ve redacted the insults in his email. Clearly he’s annoyed so I think barraging him with email has done something but I doubt he will offer a penny to Ms. Cary. He sounds like a nasty piece of work and not someone to trust with any kind of charity. I wonder how the Charity Navigator site ranks his so-called charity?

    are you accustomed to relying on Facebook posts as your source of factual information? [I am not on facebook and did not mention social media in my email] I hope not. Some facts you might consider in your rush to judgement. Diana’s case for financial need has been reviewed by MPTF and 2 other entertainment industry charities. We have all reached the same conclusion, which is that she has ample income to cover her basic living expenses. She also has an unemployed son living at home and providing care. What research of yours has shown that she needs help? Facebook?

    We are not set up to provide funding to anyone because they are the final survivor of anything — unless they have the need. I think that makes sense for a charity, don’t you?

    • Wow. I’m not surprised he’s getting frazzled–the messages everyone’s been sending have been nonstop! The MPTF Facebook page took down the option for people to post comments, I see (although you can still comment on MPTF’s posts). They are supposed to be sending a social worker to MsCary’s house today, let’s cross our fingers that they follow through.

      “Ample income to cover her basic living expenses”–just what are those “basic” expenses? And her son is unemployed because he’s devoting himself to taking care of her. Oy.

      • It’s baffling. I’m also surprised that somebody who runs a charity doesn’t have the awareness to recognize that the bad press this story has generated might cost them donations. And she’s the last surviving silent star–that’s not the last of anything. It’s something remarkable, sad, and of immeasurable significance to film history. She has needs and it’s just mind boggling that they are fighting giving anything to her. Thank you for your blog and for keeping this story in the public consciousness.

        • I’ll be adding further updates as necessary! Yes, she is the last bona fide silent film star left on this planet (there’s a handful of other people who had bit parts and such back in the ’20s, but no stars). When she goes, so goes our last witness to that side of the silent film camera. And they’re quibbling over her not “qualifying” for assistance for this or that reason. Bend the dang rules, sir, you’re the CEO.

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