Character: Harold Lloyd (himself)
Birthday: April 20, 1893
Place of Birth: Burchard, Nebraska
Date of Death: March 8, 1971
Place of Death: Beverly Hills, California
First Short: Dogs Of War!
Last Short: Dogs Of War!
Number of Shorts: 1
History: Harold Clayton Lloyd was the son of James Darsie Lloyd and Elizabeth Fraser of Welsh ancestry. His father was always trying get-rich-quick schemes that ended in disasters, and after his divorce to Harold's mother, he and Harold moved to Omaha where Harold had his first acting job in a local stock comedy. After a personal injury settlement, James settled on moving to San Diego after the flip of a coin.
Harold started acting in theatre and eventually started appearing in one-reel comedies in Thomas Edison's motion picture comedy. He soon met and formed a partnership with Hal Roach to found Hal Roach Studios where Harold began stretching his comedy talents under Hal's production hand. Hs early character was "Lonesome Luke" appeared in over sixty one-reeler comedies from 1915 to 1917. His original leading lady was Bebe Daniels with whom he had romantic aspirations both off-screen and off, she left the studio to pursue dramatic inspirations and Harold replaced her in 1919 with Mildred Davis, the older sister of Jack Davis, future Little Rascal of the Our Gang comedies. In time, Harold began falling for Mildred as well.
Lloyd soon retired his "Lonesome Luke" persona to break away from the tragicomic personas of the time, such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, and created the unnamed every-man "Glasses Character." The role had greater potential for sympathy and emotional depth and easier for audiences to identify with. By 1921, Roach and Lloyd moved from shorts to feature films and pioneered the way for future film comedies. Roach was also developing Our Gang at the time, hiring Jack Davis and Ernie Morrison Jr., who had appeared with Lloyd in some of his films. Feeling he had enough experience to strike out on his own, Lloyd parted ways with Hal Roach in 1923, and eventually married Mildred, discouraging her from following her career to be his wife. Once Jack's Our Gang contract was facing renewal, he took Jack and sent him him to military school, saving him from being a child actor. Harold and Mildred would have two children of their own, Gloria and Harold Jr., adopting a third who they re-named Marjorie.
Lloyd founded his own studio to create his own films and became the independent producer of his own movies, becoming the highest paid performer of the Twenties. As the driving force of his films, he became one of the wealthiest and most influential figures of early Hollywood. Although not as commercially successful as Charlie Chaplin, he was much more prolific. He was also a founding member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. His first talkie was "Welcome Danger," but his rate of movies slowed from one to two movies a year to one movie every one to two years. By the Great Depression, though, his films were out-of-date and both his popularity and fortunes declined. In 1937, he sold the property of his studio to the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints. The site is now the Los Angeles California Temple. Lloyd produced comedies for RKO through the early Forties, but he was practically retired by 1947.
In October 1944, Lloyd was the director and host of "The Old Gold Comedy Theater," a NBC radio anthology series, replacing Preston Sturges who had turned down the job. The series featured many of the best known film and radio personalities of the time such as Red Allen June Allyson, Lucille Ball, Ralph Bellamy, Susan Hayward, Dick Powell, Edward G. Robinson, Jane Wyman and other, but the show's half-hour format cut short the material too severely. Lloyd's voice at the time was showing the stress of his over-working, and the show ended in June 1945. Lloyd also extended himself into several charities; he was a Shriner with the Shriner's hospital for Crippled Children and became Past Potentate of Al-Malaikah Shrine in Los Angeles, later becoming Imperial Potentate of the Shriners of North America for 1949 to 1950.
During his retirement, Lloyd starred on several TV shows, such as Ed Sullivan's "Toast Of The Town," "What's My Line?" and twice on "This Is Your Life." During his latter appearances, an injury he contracted to his hand in 1919 while filming "Haunted Spooks" could be noticed.
Lloyd was very involved with photography as a hobby. He had a collection of nude photography for pin-up models of the Fifties such as Bettie Page, and once photographed Marilyn Monroe lounging at the pool of his house. He encouraged several of the young actors of this time, many of whom became big stars like Debbie Reynolds, Robert Wagner and Jack Lemmon who Harold chose to play him in a story of his life. Lloyd also kept copyright control over his work and film, possibly due to how Hal Roach lost control over his Our Gang franchise to M-G-M. In the early Sixties, he produced two compilation films to his comedies named Harold Lloyd's World Of Comedy and The Funny Side Of Life. Renewed interest in his work released his material to new audiences, but the material was often horribly edited for television viewing.
In 1953, Lloyd won a special Academy Award for his work in comedy. Ranked alongside Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as one of the most influential film comedians of the Silent Film generation, he passed away from prostrate cancer on March 8, 1971 in Beverly Hills, California. He was interred in a crypt at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and imprints of his glasses at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
List of Shorts
- From Hand To Mouth (1918)
- Captain Kidd's Kids (1918)
- Haunted Spooks (1920) - with William Gillespie and Ernie Morrison
- Get Out and Get Under (1920) - with Ernie Morrison
- Number, Please? (1920) - with Ernie Morrison
- Dr. Jack (1922) - with Jackie Condon, Mickey Daniels, Richard Daniels Sr., and William Gillespie
- Grandma's Boy (1922) - with John Hatton, Charles Stevenson, and George Warde
- Safety Last (1923) - with Mickey Daniels and William Gillespie
- Girl Shy (1924) - with Joseph Cobb, Jackie Condon, Mickey Daniels, Richard Daniels Sr., and Betsy Ann Hisle
- The Freshman (1925)
- The Kid Brother (1927)
- Speedy (1928)
- Welcome Danger (1929)
- Feet First (1930)
- Movie Crazy (1932)
- Cat's Paw (1934)
- The Milky Way (1936)
- Professor Beware (1938)
- The Sin Of Harold Diddlebock (1947)