Birth Date: April 20, 1893
Birth Place: Burchard, Nebraska, USA
Also Credited as: Hal Lloyd
Date of Death: March 8, 1971 / Age: 77
Location of Death: Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA
Cause of Death: prostate cancer
Biography: Harold Clayton Lloyd (April 20, 1893–March 8, 1971) was an American actor.
Harold Lloyd ranks alongside Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as one of the most popular and influential film comedians of the silent film era. Lloyd made nearly 200 comedy films, both silent and sound, between 1914 and 1947. He is best known for his "Glasses Character", a resourceful, success-seeking go-getter who was perfectly in tune with 1920's era America. His films frequently contained "thrill sequences" of extended chase scenes and daredevil physical feats, for which he is best remembered today. The image of Lloyd hanging from the hands of a clock high above the street in Safety Last (1923) is one of the enduring images in all of cinema. Lloyd did many of these dangerous stunts himself, despite having severely injured his right hand in a 1919 accident with a prop bomb.
Lloyd began his film career in the 1910s with pioneer comic filmmaker Hal Roach, portraying the Chaplin-inspired "Lonesome Luke" character in numerous short comedies. By 1918, Lloyd and Roach had developed the "Glasses Character" (always named "Harold" in the films), a much more mature comedy character with greater potential for sympathy and emotional depth. Beginning in 1921, they moved to feature length comedies, including Grandma's Boy (1922), Safety Last (1923), and Why Worry? (1923). Lloyd and Roach parted ways in 1924, and Lloyd became the independent producer of his own films. These included his great works Girl Shy (1924), The Freshman (1925)(his most successful silent film), The Kid Brother (1927), and Speedy (1928), his final silent film. These films were enormously successful and profitable, and influenced many filmmakers. Like the other great comics, Lloyd was the driving creative force in his films, particularly the feature length films, and he became one of the wealthiest and most influential figures in early Hollywood.
Lloyd made the transition to sound in 1929 with Welcome Danger, and made a handful of sound films until 1937 (including the excellent ensemble film Milky Way in 1936). Unfortunately, his character was out of tune with movie audiences of the Great Depression, who failed to respond as before. Lloyd retired from the screen, but he returned for an additional starring appearance in The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1948), directed by Preston Sturges. The film was a financial failure.
Lloyd, born in Burchard, Nebraska, started acting in one-reel film comedies in 1912 in San Diego, California. Lloyd soon began working with Thomas Edison's motion picture company, Universal, and eventually ended up with Hal Roach. In 1924 he formed his own independent film production company, with his films distributed by Pathe and later Paramount. Lloyd was a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Lloyd married his leading lady, Mildred Davis, in February 1923. Together, they had two children: Gloria, born in 1923, and Harold, born in 1931. They also adopted Peggy in 1930. Mildred died in 1969, two years before Lloyd's death. Lloyd's fabled Beverly Hills home, "GreenAcres" was built in 1928–1930, with 44 rooms, 26 bathrooms, 12 fountains, and 12 gardens. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
By the 1940s, Lloyd was no longer active in the film industry. Instead, he remained very active in a number of other interests, including important civic and charity work with the Shriner's Organization for Children. Lloyd was very involved with photography, including 3D photography and early color film experiments. Some of the earliest 2-color Technicolor tests were shot at his Beverly Hills home.
Lloyd kept copyright control of most of his films, and re-released them infrequently after his retirement. As a consequence, his reputation and public recognition suffered in comparison with Chaplin and Keaton, whose work has generally been more available. Also, Lloyd's film character was so intimately associated with the 1920's era that he lacked the more timeless quality of Chaplin and Keaton, and attempts at revivals failed to resonate with audiences in the 1940s and 1950s. In the early 1960s, Lloyd produced two compilation films, featuring scenes from his old comedies, Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy (1962) and The Funny Side of Life (1963). These films sparked some renewed interest, but more importantly helped restore Lloyd's status among film historians. Throughout his later years he screened his films for audiences at special charity and educational events, to great acclaim.
Following his death, most of his feature films were marketed by Time-Life Films, but these were poorly presented, with insensitive musical scores. The British Thames Silents series re-released some of the feature films in the early 1990s on video (with new orchestral scores by Carl Davis), and these are frequently shown on the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) network. A 1990 documentary also created a renewed interest in Lloyd's work. DVD releases of restored versions of his major films are expected in 2005, along with limited theatrical screenings in New York and other US cities.
Lloyd was the subject of a television documentary series in 1990, Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill, which followed similar acclaimed documentaries about the other great silent film clowns, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Through the participation of Lloyd's granddaughter and estate trustee, Suzanne Lloyd, the filmakers had full access to Lloyd's films and his personal archive.
A highlight of this program were interviews with Lloyd's legendary friend and partner Hal Roach, then 95 years old. Other Lloyd associates, friends, and family members also participated in the film.
The two hour documentary revealed the methods behind Lloyd's celebrated high-altitude stunts, which he never revealed in his lifetime. They were staged on prop facades built above the entrance to the Hill Street Tunnel in Los Angeles, or on the rooftops of buildings in downtown Los Angeles. Lloyd was usually about 20 feet above a hidden platform, but the camera was positioned such that Lloyd appeared to be high above the streets below.