Captain January

Duration: 80

The adorable antics of Baby Peggy are showcased in the 1924 silent film hit, Captain January. The restored silent movie will be accompanied live by harpist-composer Leslie McMichael and her sister, violist Barbara McMichael.

Baby Peggy Montgomery made her motion picture debut at the tender age of 19 months, paired with Brownie the Wonder Dog in short silent comedies in early Hollywood. American movie goers were captivated by the child star charmer, and Baby Peggy was soon signed to a studio contract, with all the trappings of fame and fortune. The tot received millions of letters from adoring fans, there were Baby Peggy dolls and lookalike contests, she went on national tours, and appeared on countless magazine covers.

The precocious little girl was an expressive performer and after acting in 150 short films, she graduated to features, including 1924’s Captain January based on author Laura E. Richards’ popular children’s novel. This first film rendition of Captain January presents the heartwarming tale of an orphan saved from a shipwreck and adopted by a kindly old lighthouse keeper (Hobart Bosworth).

Unfortunately, Baby Peggy’s film career did not get the happy ending of the characters she played on the screen. Her earnings were squandered by her parents, and she was exploited by movie studios which turned a blind eye to safe working conditions and child labor laws. When her manager-father’s contract negotiations failed spectacularly, just like that, the million-dollar baby was out of the picture business, blacklisted at age six.

Like all silent films, Captain January was made on flammable nitrate film stock. Fortunately, prints of this movie were saved in museum archives, and the Library of Congress painstakingly restored the film a few years ago. Upon the film’s re-release, former child star Baby Peggy, now known as the well-regarded author and historian Diana Serra Cary, was once again celebrated by fans for her spunky, trailblazing work from the dawn of cinema.

Captain January marks its 100th anniversary this year with live harp and viola score screenings across the country performed by Leslie McMichael and Barbara McMichael, sister musicians from Seattle.

Captain January Tickets