The death of Mickey Rooney, who began his career in a series of silent short films, got us wondering if there are any more silent-era performers still alive. If Wikipedia is to be trusted, we have our answer. As with Rooney, all of the actors mentioned below were mere tots when they entered the business. Two of them, Jean Darling and Mildred Kornman, made silent Our Gang shorts. (Dickie Moore, pictured above, also made Our Gang shorts, but none were silent.) And Fay McKenzie made her movie debut at the ripe old age of zero.
Though likely not a complete list, the following dozen names are nevertheless a fairly good guide to living actors who appeared onscreen before the advent of sound.
Lassie Lou Ahern
Born June 25, 1920
Silent films include Call of the Wild (1923), Sweet Daddy (1924) and His Wooden Wedding (1925).
Born February 3, 1914
Appeared in the silent film Long Live the King (1923).
Diana Serra Cary, aka Baby Peggy
Born October 26, 1918
Silent films include Her Circus Man (1921), Little Miss Mischief (1922) and The Darling of New York (1923).
Born August 23, 1922
Silent films include Chicken Feed (1927), Rainy Days (1928) and Wiggle Your Ears (1929).
Manoel de Oliveira
Born December 11, 1908
Appeared in the silent film Fátima Milagrosa (1928).
Born July 10, 1925
Silent films include Thundering Fleas (1926), Bring Home the Turkey (1927) and Playin’ Hookey (1928).
Born October 20, 1909
Silent films include The Phantom of the Opera (1925), Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1927) and The Gate Crasher (1928).
Born February 19, 1918
Silent films include Station Content (1918), When Love Comes (1922) and The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln (1924).
Born September 12, 1925
Appeared in the silent films The Beloved Rogue (1927) and Object: Alimony (1928).
Born January 3, 1919
Silent films include The Champeen (1923), Seein’ Things (1924) and The Love Bug (1925).
Born December 25, 1923
Appeared in the silent films Taking a Chance and Taxi 13, both from 1928.
Born November 22, 1919
Appeared in the silent film Taxi 13 (1928).