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Lloyd Hamilton Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (7)

Overview (3)

Born in Oakland, California, USA
Died in Hollywood, California, USA  (after surgery)
Birth NameLloyd Vernon Hamilton

Mini Bio (1)

Being one of numerous important comedians during the silent era whose popularity has turned into almost complete obscurity, Lloyd Hamilton has nevertheless earned a reputation as an original talent among film historians and enthusiasts. Born into a conservative middle-class family in California, presumably in 1891, Hamilton began his career as an extra in theatre-productions. He entered films at an early age, although the exact year remains hard to specify; he claimed to have appeared in his first films at Lubin Company in 1914, but he can be glimpsed in a few surviving Frontier-comedies from the year before. However, it is correct that it was in the year of 1914 that he first gained success, when he teamed up with Bud Duncan in Kalem's 'Ham and Bud'-series, being one of the very first permanent comedy teams produced in the movies. The series turned out moderately popular and ran for three years, although it can be hard to understand this success for modern viewers; by common agreement, the 'Ham and Bud'-films have not aged well and remain of interest mostly due to the limited insight into Hamilton's maturity as a performer that they provide.

Hamilton left Kalem for Fox in late 1917, where he appeared on his own under the direction of Henry Lehrman and Jack White. Along with White and another director who would later reach fame as a performer in his own right, Charley Chase, Hamilton established 'Mermaid Comedies' in 1920, a production unit exclusively dedicated to comedy shorts. He appeared in a number of films over the next few years; sadly, only a few of these are known to exist today, but comedies such as "Moonshine" and "The Simp" (both 1920) confirm Hamilton's progression as a performer during this time. Indeed, by 1922 he was hailed in the press as a "great comedy coup" and audiences had already taken notice of him. Hamilton's screen personality was something of its own, inheriting very few traits of the other major comedians of the time; tubby and baby-faced though he was, his character was a childish man of personal contrasts: he possessed a touch of bewilderment, irresponsibility, incredible self-assurance and frustration that gave him a partly tragic complexion, which in return probably made his comedy more appealing to adults than children.

By the mid-1920s, Hamilton's popularity had grown such a degree that he considered it appropriate to establish his own production company. It was about this time that he starred in his first feature-length film, "The Darker Self," a film which does not only seem rather tasteless today due to the use of racial stereotypes, but which in fact was a disaster also when originally released and Hamilton's reputation suffered a blow because of it. He nevertheless produced many fine short comedies throughout the decade, such as "Move Along" (1926), "Nobody's Business" (1926) and "Somebody's Fault" (1927), most of which were directed by Norman Taurog. While it may be argued that some of the films suffer from lack of continuity, they often provide many clever visual gags and camera-tricks which still make them pleasant to watch; in fact, in one respect absence of continuity suits Hamilton's character well, as his movies are not so often based upon a particular story as of him being constantly haunted by bad luck, with one bad situation leading up to an even worse situation.

Despite being so very amusing on-screen, Hamilton led a troublesome private life. He was a hard drinker, which severely affected his family life. His first marriage was to actress Ethel Lloyd, five years his senior, which took place at an early point of his movie career and lasted just a few years; they were separated by 1923, and their split caused a two-year long court battle. He married a second time in 1927 to Irene Dalton, who had appeared in some of his films. Dalton accused her husband of being violent when drunk, and the couple divorced after a year. (None of the marriages produced any children.) In the midst of these personal difficulties, Hamilton was suddenly banned from the screen after a boxer was murdered in a street-fight in which he was involved; the comedian was not a suspect, but the tolerance of scandals was minimal in Hollywood at this time and he remained unemployed for more than a year. He did a comeback in a series of two-reeler's for Mack Sennett at Educational Films in 1929, this time in sound pictures, which had just done its lasting entrance in the medium. Lloyd had a good voice which suited his character perfectly, but by this time his troubled life-style had begun to get the better of him. After the contract with Sennett expired, it was rumored that he would begin a new series of two-reeler's for Hal Roach, but being informed of Hamilton's alcoholism, Roach refused to hire him. He died unemployed and ill in 1935, aged 43.

During his brief period as a star, Charlie Chaplin is reported to have remarked that Lloyd Hamilton "is the one actor of whom I am jealous," and Charley Chase confessed that whenever he had difficulties in doing a scene, he'd always ask himself, "How would Lloyd have done it?" Buster Keaton also expressed great fondness of his work, stating in a late interview that Hamilton was "one of the funniest men in pictures." Critic and playwright Walter Kerr, considered by many the most insightful authority on silent comedy, discusses his work with great respect and admiration in his 1975-book "The Silent Clowns." However, despite all acclaim, Lloyd Hamilton is exceedingly seldom given a mention today even among silent comedy fans. One significant reason to this is his sad lack of surviving output; most of his negatives were destroyed in a laboratory fire at Universal shortly after his death. Happily, a fine collection of his work is now available on DVD through silent comedy specialists "Looser Than Loose."

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Snorre Mathiesen (agust195@hotmail.com)

Spouse (2)

Irene Dalton (June 1927 - 7 April 1928) (divorced)
Ethel Lloyd (actress, d. 1965) (May 1913 - 1926) (divorced)

Trivia (7)

Entered films with Lubin Co. in 1914.
Was 'Ham' in 'Ham and Bud' comedy series (1914-1917).
Appeared in 'Sunshine' comedies (1918)
Appeared in 'Mermaid' comedies (1921-1922)
While working on a "Ham and Bud" comedy in the autumn of 1915, he suffered a compound fracture of his left leg and was unable to work for months afterward. The injury is said to have inspired the mincing walk he affected in his later solo comedies. In September 1931 he was struck by a car and fractured his left leg again. After his release from the hospital two months later, he was demonstrating to his friend Rex Lease how well he could walk without crutches when he fell and broke his right leg.
He is reported to have tried his hand at directing at the beginning of his movie career, but was fired on first day of shooting with a film starring Mack Sennett, after performing an imitation of Sennett's mannerisms which Sennett found offensive but made the crew roar with laughter. After that, he said he wanted to be just an actor and had no more desire to direct.
Co-founded, with Jack White, Lloyd Hamilton Corporation in Hollywood, CA, in 1922.

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