Comedic Actor. He was a legendary, innovative comic American actor in over two hundred motion pictures of the 1910s through the 1940s. He was known as “the King of Daredevil Comedy.” His career began at the age of twelve years old in a stock company performance in Omaha. Traveling around from city to city after his parents' divorce, he attended the School of Dramatic Art in San Diego, California. In 1913, he moved with his often-unemployed father to Los Angeles where the motion picture industry was still in its early stages. He then tried to break into the industry, taking any small part he could get. He soon made friends with Hal Roach , who was putting together his own production company. Roach started featuring him as the character of “Lonesome Luke”, a Charlie Chaplin inspired bumbler. While this character was popular, he realized he needed to develop his own new character. In 1917, Lloyd began work on a new character, one that was to remain his signature for his entire career. With round glasses, a straw hat, and an unkempt suit, this was something definitely different. Playing the fool in the movie, he would be the fox that outsmarted the bad guy doing daring stunts. However, in 1919, tragedy struck him. While posing for a photographer, he grabbed what he thought was a fake bomb and lit it with his cigarette. The bomb exploded in his hand, causing his thumb and forefinger to be amputated. The accident was headlines on the front page of every newspaper with the prediction that his career was finished. Never the quitter, he bounced back and made dozens more films, among the best and most highly acclaimed: “Safety Last” in 1923, when he hung from the hands of a clock several stories high over a city street; “Girl Shy” in 1924, when he had a thrilling ride on top of a speeding streetcar; and “Freshman” in 1925 when he was tackled in a football game. As the highest paid actor during the 1920s, his last silent film was “Speedy” on April 7, 1928. With the start of the talking films in the 1930s, other silent film stars retired from acting, but he continued to act, though his spoken humor did not measure up to the silent films. Considered his best talkie film, “Movie Crazy” was made in 1932, but his four other films made in the 1930s were in the red financially. After a nearly ten-year sabbatical, his last film was “Mad Wednesday” in 1947. He was honored with a special Academy Award in 1952 for his contribution to film comedy. In 1962 he released with much success “Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy,” a compilation of scenes from his earliest films, and followed in 1963 with another, “Harold Lloyd's Funny Side of Life.” In retirement he was still part of Hollywood as he experimented with improving color and sound in films. As a member of The Shriners from 1924, he became the administrator of the Los Angeles Shriners' Hospital for Crippled Children in the late 1940s. He died of cancer.
Bio by: Linda Davis
1901–1969 (m. 1923)