There a couple of child stars who died before reaching adulthood and I covered a few of them earlier in the blog. Actors such as 'Breezy' Reaves Eason and Bobby Connelly were pretty big in their day and we luckily have pictures of them to look back on and even clips (or whole films) to view their work. There are a couple of names that come to mind however that I have yet to find pictures of and yet they were child actors during the silent era. Names like Eunice Woodruff whose grave I visited a few weeks ago in Hollywood or Pauline Flood (aka Baby Sunshine) who died at age two when she was hit by a truck and is also buried in Los Angeles. I have yet to see a picture of either of these two girls, and to me, that is just heartbreaking.
On to the kiddies! Our first entry will be a sister act, namely that of the Ahern Sisters: Peggy and Lassie Lou.
Lassie Lou Ahern was born on June 25, 1920 in Los Angeles. She was the third of four children born to Fred, a music shop owner, and Elizabeth Wrighter Wilson Ahern. She joined older siblings, Frederick and Peggy and a few years later, the family was completed with the arrival of William.
Lassie Lou and her sister, Peggy were reportedly spotted by Will Rogers around a film lot one day and told Fred Ahern that he should put them in the movies. Well, when Will Rogers gives you that kind of compliment, you need to go with...and Fred did!
|Lassie Lou and Will Rogers|
She made her film debut in 1923's The Call of the Wild, the first screen adaptation of the novel by Jack London.
Her film career lasted from 1923 until 1945 with over 30 credits to her name. She appeared in five Our Gang shorts/films and had the chance to act opposite such big names as Charley Chase, Norma Shearer, and Will Rogers. She was also sometimes hired to play the role of a young boy.
The biggest hit of her career was her role as Little Harry in the 1927 adaptation of Uncle Tom's Cabin. It was after this role that she won an award from Photoplay magazine for the best Child Actress of the Year.
Her film career came to end when the talkies became the new medium, reportedly because her father was a church going man and thought the talkies were a bad influence advocating gangster violence. She did however obtain a small role in the 1944 Ingrid Bergman thriller, Gaslight. She didn't act again until the 1970s when she made appearances on various television shows.
After her Hollywood days were over, Lassie Lou and her sister Peggy toured the country in a singing and dancing act known simply as "The Ahern Sisters." After their touring days were done, she became a very well respected dance instructor for over 35 years.
In 1938, Lassie Lou married drummer Johnny Brent. The couple had three children together: sons, John and Cary and daughter, Debra.
According to fan magazine articles from the 1920s, she was trained in ballet, tap, singing, gymnastics, and rope spinning. She also enjoyed listening to bedtime stories on the radio and telling them later to her dolls and stuffed animals.
It is wonderful to note that Lassie Lou is still alive at age 95 and in fact, still accepts fan mail! If you would like to write to her, please do so at this address:
Lassie Lou Ahern
8049 N. Sage Vista
Prescott, AZ 86315
"I loved everything that I did. I loved to dance. I love my three kids and - to put it all in a nutshell - I love life." ~~ Lassie Lou Ahern, USA Today, 2011
|Joe Cobb and Peggy|
Peggy Lenore Ahern was born on March 19, 1917 in Douglas, Arizona. When she was around four years old her family moved out to Culver City, California, an area that her father, Fred helped develop.
She too, like her sister, made her film debut in the 1923 film adaptation of Call of the Wild. While Lassie Lou appeared in Our Gang shorts, that seemed to be more of Peggy's niche since she appeared in eight and that is what she is best remembered for now.
|Peggy holding baby Mildred Kornman|
Even though Peggy was the older sister, her career was much shorter than Lassie Lou. Her Hollywood career lasted for only four years with around eleven film credits. During that time however she acted alongside big names like Norma Shearer, Ricardo Cortez, and Betty Bronson.
Unfortunately, I don't know much about her life after she quit the movies. I do know that she toured with her sister Lassie Lou in a song and dance act called "The Ahern Sisters" for a few years. She married a man with the last name of Blaylock, but I couldn't find the dates or even his first name. I believe he preceded her in death though because the listed survivors only mentioned her daughters from the union, Jill and Beth Blaylock.
|Peggy and Lassie Lou|
Peggy Ahern Blaylock passed away on October 24, 2012 in Canoga Park, California. She was one of the last surviving Our Gang actors.
** Please visit Young Hollywood for tons of great information!