That headline is not inaccurate, nor is it an example of hyperbole. 96-year-old Lassie Lou Ahearn is supporting a crowdfunding campaign to restore a 1927 film called Little Mickey Grogan in which she starred with Frankie Darro. As film teacher Jeffrey Crouse recently wrote to me, “She is keen to see her final silent film, Little Mickey Grogan, restored, preserved, and available on DVD to the public. The only remaining print of it exists in Paris at Serge Bromberg’s Lobster Films archive, and I am working with him, preservationist Eric Grayson, and silent film composer Philip Carli to realize Lassie’s dream.”

Crouse summarizes Ahearn’s impressive career in one paragraph: “Lassie Lou Ahern was discovered in 1922 by Will Rogers and had an impressive career in the 1920s. She appeared in Our Gang and Charley Chase comedies, Helen Holmes serials, a number of lost films (The Dark Angel with Ronald Colman, Thank You directed by John Ford) and enjoyed a major part in the lavish $2 million adaptation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She had her own dressing room at Universal and a clothing line with her name on it.”

I could tell more of the story, but you can learn all you need to know at the gofundme page, where Lassie Lou speaks eloquently (and extemporaneously) about her long search for this film and its immediate future.

Lassie Lou has long been a favorite with Sons of the Desert members, who celebrate her work at the Hal Roach studios in the 1920s. You can read more about her on the crowdfunding page, and in this article that recently appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal 

I am grateful to Jeffrey Crouse for bringing this campaign to my attention, and hope we all get to enjoy its happy ending.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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February 2024