When most people think of “Silent Movie Stars,” they first think of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Mary Pickford. Even people who have never seen a silent movie in their life (boy, are they missing out!) have heard of these three legends.
However, those of us who live and breathe old movies, know there’s a HUGE name missing on this list of household names – Mr. Harold Lloyd. One of my favorite soapbox subjects on Hollywood Yesterday is this quandary: Why are so many (equally deserving) stars overlooked while others achieve lasting fame – even among casual old movie fans. I simply do not know. Was Lloyd as talented and hilarious as Chaplin? Yes. Is he as celebrated today as Chaplin? No.
I have no answers. Only questions. But, that’s essentially why I began and continue to publish Hollywood Yesterday – to keep as many of these wonderful stars in the public eye as possible, while doing my part to introduce them to new generations of fans. The Chaplins, the Keatons, the Pickfords AND the Lloyds of the world.
If you aren’t familiar with Harold Lloyd, I hope you’ll enjoy reading a little about him below, then promptly find a few of his movies to enjoy. Trust me, you’ll soon be asking, “Why isn’t he a household name?!” too.
If you come up with any answers, let me know.
10 Fast Facts About Harold Lloyd:
- Harold Clayton Lloyd was born on April 20, 1893 in Burchard, Nebraska,
- I love lasting Hollywood marriages (mostly because they’re so rare), so I am in love with the fact that Harold Lloyd and silent movie star Mildred Davis were married from 1923 to her death in 1969. They were frequent co-stars.
- Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton are considered to be the three most influential film comedians of the silent film era. They’re often referred to as “The Big Three.”
- While he was never credited as a writer, make no mistake about it, Lloyd was the brains behind all of his movies. He came up with most of the gags, props, and stories.
Unlike many other stars of the silent era, Lloyd was known to be very smart with his money. While he had many expensive hobbies, he would still leave an inheritance of $12 million dollars after his death in 1971. At one time, he was one of the 10 richest entertainers in the world.
One of his fascinating hobbies was 3-D photography. He took hundreds of images of Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Richard Burton and Roy Rogers. Many of his photos are reproduced in the book “3-D Hollywood: Photography by Harold Lloyd“, which was edited by his granddaughter, Suzanne Lloyd Hayes.
- Other hobbies included breeding Great Danes, collecting cars, movie-watching (it’s said that he would have “marathon movie nights” several times each week… the man is my hero), record-collecting, and photography. He had an insatiable appetite for photography.
- In 1919 Harold Lloyd was handed what he thought to be a prop bomb. Horrifyingly enough, it was a real bomb and when he lit it with his cigarette, it exploded, blowing off his right thumb and index finger. He spent months in the hospital but, when he recovered, he returned to work.
- His movie Safety Last is included on Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies” list.
- Mildred and Harold Lloyd had three children: Gloria Lloyd (1923–2012) and Harold Clayton Lloyd Jr. (1931–1971) and Marjorie Elizabeth Lloyd (1924–1986), who they adopted in 1930.
Harold Lloyd’s Famous Scene from the Film Safety Last (1923):