Peggy Diggins Profile

Peggy Diggins
Peggy Diggins
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(Margaret Mary Diggins)
12 October 21 is born in New York City to Paul Farrell Diggins, a prominent Westchester County lawyer, and his wife, the former Ella M. Connors
30 lives with her parents and her older brother, Paul F., in Mount Vernon, New York
Late '30s attends convent school until age 16. She is much too imaginative, so the Diggins conclude their only daughter should go to city high school. She is always the tallest in her class. She graduates from Mount Vernon High School in New York, where she took every available course in public speaking. Her father decided she would follow his footsteps as a trial lawyer. Evenings when her lessons were done, she and her father discussed law. Her father explained all the intricacies in addressing a jury and coached her in the use of her voice. She will later say that legal training helps her plenty in handling dialog.
at the Hotel Lincoln during a jitterbug contest, a woman taps her shoulder and asks if she wants to get into pictures. Aware of such high-handed methods, luring poor innocent girls to Hollywood, she replies, “I should say not.” The lady is later identified as the wife of a Paramount executive. Peggy swallows her pride and apologizes. The result is admission to the Paramount dramatic school.
one afternoon at the Paramount dramatic school, a girl invites her to meet another gal at the International Casino. It’s her first time in a Broadway nightclub. She sits down and watches the afternoon rehearsal. A man walks over and asks if she would like a job in the show. She coldly replies, “No.” She later finds out he is none other than George Hale, producer and director of the show. She apologizes to him, and he offers her a showgirl job. After 15 minutes of talk, she walks away with a contract calling for a featured top spot and $300 a week.
a month later she makes her Broadway debut. The show folds in three months. She registers in the American Academy dramatic school and models between classes for Walter Thornton.
agent Leland Hayward sees her in an American Academy dramatic school play and signs her immediately. He wires Howard Hughes and tells him he has a new star for Hughes’ new picture. Hughes sends for her. She later says: “It turned out to be a nice plane ride at Mr. Hughes expense. He felt I was too tall for the part. He gave me a plane ticket with the suggestion that I return to New York and when he made a picture wherein he could use me, he’d let me know. My Irish was up again. I’d quit my job in New York and my school. I had less than $25. I didn’t want to wire dad for help. I got in touch with my agent and told him if I couldn’t stay as a star, I’d better start at the bottom and work up. Just as long as I got started! That week I was signed with Warner Brothers on a seven-year optional contract. I’ve played bits. In Tugboat Annie Sails Again, I screamed and dove under a table, not much for my first part, nor a climax for my dramatic school training. But I’m in pictures and learning. I wouldn’t turn down any part, and like everyone, I’m waiting for a break. I’ll be ready for it, I hope, when it comes, and with my Irish luck, it will.”
17 May 39 Walter Winchell reports that “Ellen Glyn, the new Broadway sparkplug (who starts at the International Casino with Georgia Hale’s new show Hello Beautiful) is really Peggy Diggins of a Mt. Vernon first family…”
while in New York, she is Kirk Douglas' girlfriend
40 is selected a “Baby Star” by the Motion Picture Publicists Association. The twelve other"Baby Stars" are Ella Bryan, Lucia Carroll, Lorraine Elliott, Jayne Hazard, Joan Leslie, Kay Leslie, Marilyn (Lynn) Merrick, Gay Parkes, Lois Ranson, Sheila Ryan, Patricia Van Cleve, and Tanya Widrin.
17 March 40 on St. Patrick’s Day, she is judged by noted artists, including James Montgomery Flagg, to be the most beautiful Irish-American girl
19 June 40 is in Hollywood making tests and is photographed with Clark Gable
13 July 40 Harrison Carroll writes that “The so-easy-to-look-at Peggy Diggins is now a Warner Brothers starlet and will make her screen debut in Honeymoon for Three. She could have had jobs at three or four other studios. The test that won her the Warner contract was a love scene with Peter Ashley. It was he who gave the beauteous Peggy her first screen kiss.”
18 September 40 Louella Parsons reports that “Peggy Diggins, young Irish beauty who recently joined Warners, had her six months’ option renewed, and is she happy? You will see her in The Lady with Red Hair, and of all the newcomers at Warners, I believe her career is the most promising. Possibly I am prejudiced, for it was I who first saw Peggy and encouraged her to come to Hollywood…”
11 October 40 Louella Parsons writes: “If Peggy Diggins, the beautiful Irish girl, becomes one of the big stars on the screen (and I am betting she will), I will always say I saw her first. She was so lovely the first night I saw her at the Stork Club that I felt she would be star material. Walter Winchell and Dick Watts and several other critics were in the Stork Club at the same time, and they too were attracted by her beauty. It was good news to hear that Peggy, who is in New York visiting her parents, will be handed her best role when she returns. She goes into the second femme lead with Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland in Footsteps in the Dark, with Lloyd Bacon directing. Watch for her. I believe she is a real star bet.”
November 40 is courted by young John F. "Jack" Kennedy, son of the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James
21 November 40 Winchell reports: “The other evening Peggy Diggins told the silly about two ghosts. They were alone in a deserted house one midnight when suddenly they heard a noise in the next room. One of the ghosts, trembling, turned to the other and queried, do you believe in people?”
10 December 40 models Studio Styles hats in newspaper ads—they're only $12.50. Her current film is mentioned, Invitation to Murder.
15 December 40 models a pareu, newest of Hollywood’s two-piece bathing suit in the “exotic” class. Hers is a splashy brown and yellow cotton print. There are also a bolero and long skirt to match.
12 January 41 tells how her Irish temperament aided and abetted her entering show business: “In convent school I was told to stop tap dancing. It wasn’t lady like. I couldn’t stop. My feet just worked that way.”
19 February 41 her beauty treatment for rough elbows is published in newspaper beauty columns. She suggests scrubbing each elbow gently with a piece of lemon dipped in salt. Leave the lemon juice on until it dries. Rinse and dry elbows with a rough towel, then massage with cocoa butter or rich cream.
1 March 41 Hollywood columnist Mark Hellinger gives his list of young ladies on the way up the ladder in Tinseltown, your female stars of tomorrow. The girls are Linda Darnell, Gene Tierney, Rita Hayworth, Ann Rutherford, Peggy Diggins, Margaret Hayes, and Joan Leslie. “Some, like Hayworth and Darnell, are but a step away at the moment. The others, with decent breaks in the way of parts, may get there tomorrow.”
August 41 the movies’ best national defense effort to date is the Navy Blues Sextet, six of the town’s loveliest, leggiest beauties who tour the Army camps and cheer the boys. The members are Peggy Diggins, Kay Aldridge, Georgia Carroll, Marguerite Chapman, Lorraine Gettman (Leslie Brooks), and Claire James (who replaced Alexis Smith when she was assigned a role in Dive Bomber). The girls were the winners of a contest in which U.S. soldiers were asked to pick the six most beautiful women from a field of 150, many of whom were Warner Brothers contract actresses. The Sextet debuted in Warner’s Navy Blues. There is actually a seventh member, making the group a septet. Alice Talton is a much needed substitute when one of the girls has another obligation or has a heavy morning-after.
for the past few months, the Sextet has had no peace—pictures every day, a bit of film acting, dancing lessons, dramatic lessons, speaking lessons, and then more photographing
none of the girls is married, and they have formed an “Anti-Elopement Club,” pledging each other to stay single as long as they are in the Sextet
the Sextet covers all of the West Coast Army camps. They help the Navy recruit, awarding each newly signed sailor boy a kiss.
the Sextet receives loads of fan mail, especially from those in service to Uncle Sam. The girls are flattered by the attention. It doesn’t trouble the others that Georgia Carroll gets the greatest number of letters and proposals. “She’s the only blonde,” says Peggy. “It’s quite natural she’d be the most popular.”
if one believes the stories around the Warner publicity department, each member is terribly ambitious for all her sister Sextet-ites. They don’t indulge in streaks of envy. They even loan each other clothes and jewelry. But they’ve never been known to swap beaus. They don’t need to. There are plenty to go around.
is brunette, 5’-7”, and weighs 118 pounds
11 August 41 Louella Parsons writes that “Peggy Diggins is showing her father the town—and are they having fun?”
is sent to Honolulu along with the rest of the Sextet for the Navy Blues world premiere. Upon returning to the mainland, they make a cross-country junket, starting in Dallas, Texas, and ending in New York City, where Sherman Billingsley gives them a well-publicized party at his famous Stork Club.
3 September 41 columnist Louella Parsons reports: “The first stopping place of Warner’s Navy Blues sextet is Dallas, the home of Georgia Carroll. Then they go to Memphis and then to New York. In New York Sherman Billingsley is giving them a party at the Stork Club. You can leave it to Bob Taplinger, Warner’s praise genius, to think up something for the girls and here it is: They have an act in which all of them appear as advocates of shorter dresses - defense saving. All of the girls, Georgia Carroll, Kay Aldridge, Peggy Diggins, Marguerite Chapman, Lorraine Gettman, and Alice Talton, are giving a farewell party tonight at the Mocambo. They’ll leave Wednesday and it is really a stunt for movie beauties to give the tired businessmen something to think about besides war and other worries.”
10 September 41 while in Fort Worth, Texas, the beauties are photographed surrounding automobile dealer Charlie Hilliard, who is holding two war bonds. Hilliard coughed up $37.50 in nickels that he had been saving for several years to buy the bonds which, along with the lipstick, is the McCoy.
10 November 41 Louella Parsons tells that “Peggy Diggins has her option lifted at Warners and is slated for some bigger and better roles.”
28 November 41 her mother arrives in Hollywood today for a visit
9 January 42 is with the Mark Hellingers at Ciros. Every important person in town is there to eat a special dinner created by a chef who certainly knows his art.
6 February 42 joins the Hollywood division of the Women’s Ambulance Corps. She will go to school three nights a week to learn how to fix various components of ambulance engines.
13 February 42 is down with the flu
1 April 42 Edmund Golding is planning to make extensive tests of her as soon as he finishes his current picture. Meanwhile, getting her wardrobe ready for Sweethearts of 1942—based on the girls our service boys leave behind. She’s a big favorite with boys in camps. Only a few days ago the Walter Thornton Model Agency sent photographs of Manhattan and Hollywood beauties to 50 army camps and Peggy was voted the favorite of Uncle Sam’s boys, "Sweetheart of the Army Camps of America," by an 8 to 1 margin.
April 42 has a foldout in Esquire
31 May 42 says that though her chief extravagance is clothes, she doesn’t give a snap for jewelry
23 July 42 is photographed for the “Lois Leeds Beauty Arts” newspaper column showing the newest fashion trend, shorter nails with lighter shades of red. At one time all the girls on the screen wore the dark blood-red nail polish on long tapered fingernails. Today in wartime, short is in. Washing dishes at a canteen, knitting, making bandages for hospital units, and digging in Victory Gardens, just could not be handled as efficiently with last year’s long nails.
September 42 sells war bonds at the Waite Park Great Northern repair shops with actors Dorothy Cordray, Ralph Bellamy, and Richard Arlen
12 September 42 she, actress Joan Leslie, and actor Richard Arlen arrive in Bismarck, North Dakota, for a war securities rally
5 October 42 Buddy DaSylva sees her on the screen and offers her a good part in a musical comedy where she can sing and dance and display her talent, which up to now has not been recognized by Warner Brothers. However, she decides to return to New York and study photography. She has been made picture editor of a new magazine and is studying in order to be able to select the correct art. She is as thrilled and excited with her new job as if she had never been in the movies.
43-44 goes to the European theater after boot—or slipper—training with the Wacs at Camp Devers in New England. She has her choice of summer or winter types. The dear, hardy belles who are under Army orders choose the drab winter type. She takes the pale, buff summer job with the little stiff-brimmed cap that Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby designed.
Early 43 aboard ladies’ troopship to England she sees no reason why she should go through the glum routine of sleeping each night in a life preserver, as all Wacs are ordered to do. She brings along something slinky, black and overwhelmingly feminine. As she sleeps one night in mid-Atlantic, while the ship zigs and zags to avoid U-boat attacks, an outraged lady sergeant stomps in, protected by the armor of a life-jacket, long woolen underwear, with a drop seat, and cast-iron curlers. Spying Peggy in filmy black, the sergeant snorts, “Young lady, do you realize that this ship may be sunk any moment? How do you think you could survive with nothing on but that nightgown?” Peggy stirs sleepily in her bunk, looks at the lady sergeant and asks politely, “Who do you think will be the first picked up at sea?” and then goes back to sleep.
in London, air raid sirens sound constantly. She likes to walk abroad during a raid rather than going to a shelter in order to watch the play of the searchlights that sometimes pick up the Nazi hit-and-run bombers. Walking through the falling barrages of shrapnel of anti-aircraft shells and rockets, where other correspondents fear to tread, jagged chunks of metal the size of home plates fall around her, but never hit her.
she and Hearst writer Bob Considine are assigned by Leo Dolan and Charlie Smith, who runs the INS bureau in London, to go to a place named East Grinstead, where the RAF operates a hospital and rest camp named for Queen Victoria. A plastic surgeon from New Zealand named McIndoe, later knighted, attends to the badly burned and disfigured Spitfire and Hurricane pilots. She strolls through the wards with courage and compassion and talks to the patients.
2 March 44 now an ex-Hollywood starlet and photographer for one of the large picture syndicates, she is photographed in her London darkroom. She carries the rank of captain, as do other women war correspondents.
? marries an officer while overseas
June 45 seeks a divorce
3 July 45 starts divorce proceedings against the officer she married while overseas
3 October 47 Dorothy Kilgallen reports that “Peggy Diggins is lullabying again—her second.”
? marries Dr. John Staige Davis, Jr., a New York Park Avenue medico and son of the plastic surgery pioneer
September 51 her daughter is born at Doctors Hospital in New York. The girl has the same birthday as her father.
December 51 she and her husband part amicably. She will file for divorce. He's 51; she's 30. Davis will die at age 77 in 1977.
August 53 advertises for Mum antiperspirant cream
4 January 55 In separable “couple” – H. Schmidlapp, Peggy Diggins, and Joe Wade
24 June 55 calls off her engagement to Albert Plant of the cosmetics fortune
August 55 is a daily double with Sailing Baruch, Jr. They are seen at the Villa Victor.
June 56 will wed Wall Street broker John Walters
11 August 56 marries Walters in Palm Beach, Florida
February 57 her El Morocco-Little Club pals are unhappy about her sudden split with Walters
14 April 57 her father dies at age 65 in New York City
12 August 57 as Margaret Mary Walters, she dies in a car crash at age 35 in Gulfstream, Florida
14 August 57 Hearst writer Bob Considine editorializes her and the courage she showed during his adventures with her during World War II. He describes her as a “rare type of Irish beauty with eyes like a good blue sky and hair like a good black raven.”
Kirk Crivello, The Star, The Bismarck Tribune, The Charleston Gazette, The Daily Courier, The Fresno Bee Republican, The Hayward Daily Review, Humboldt Standard, Kingsport News, The Modesto Bee and News-Herald, The Port Arthur News, Syracuse Herald-Journal, The Mansfield News-Journal, McKean County Democrat, Nevada State Journal, Oakland Tribune, The Ogden Standard-Examiner, The Lowell Sun, San Mateo Times, The Zanesville Signal, The Lima News, The Sheboygan Press, The Times, The Vidette-Messenger,,
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