Vancouver Was Awesome: Peggy Cartwright, 1919

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A Vancouver time travelogue brought to you by Past Tense.

Peggy Cartwright was born in Vancouver in 1912. After she and her mother both took sick during a scarlet fever outbreak, their doctor advised them to move to a warmer climate. Leaving her father behind, the two went to Los Angeles.

Peggy began her film career in uncredited roles in the DW Griffiths’ groundbreaking and racist 1915 film, Birth of a Nationand its anti-racist follow-up, Intolerance. Peggy continued as a child actor in the movie business until her father insisted she and her mother return home so she could get a proper education. Highlights of her film career include appearing with an as yet unknown Rudolph Valentino in A Society Sensation (1918) and with Harold Lloyd in this one, From Hand to Mouth (1919 – the full 20 minute version can be seen here). In 1922, young Peggy was part of the original Our Gang troupe for their first four films.

In the 1930s, Peggy Cartwright was in London performing on stage and hobnobbing with royalty (her grandfather was Sir Richard Cartwright, a cabinet minister in the Laurier government). Peggy Cartwright lived to become the last survivor of the original Our Gang cast and the second last from Birth of a Nation. She died in Victoria in 2001 at the age of 88.