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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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!