|Date of Birth||20 April 1893, Burchard, Nebraska, USA|
|Date of Death||8 March 1971, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA (prostate cancer)|
|Birth Name||Harold Clayton Lloyd|
|Height||5' 7½" (1.71 m)|
Mini Bio (2)
Born in Buchard, Nebraska, USA to Elizabeth Fraser and 'J. Darcie 'Foxy' Lloyd' who fought constantly and soon divorced (at the time a rare event), Harold Clayton Lloyd was nominally educated in Denver and San Diego high schools and received his stage training at the School of Dramatic Art (San Diego). Lloyd grew up far more attached to his footloose, chronically unemployed father than his overbearing mother.
He made his stage debut at age 12 as "Little Abe" in "Tess of d'Ubervilles" with the Burwood Stock company of Omaha. Harold and his father moved to California as a result of a fortuitous accident settlement in 1913. Foxy bought a pool hall (that soon failed) while Harold attended high school. The pair were soon broke when his father suggested he try out for a job on a movie being shot at San Diego's Pan American Exposition by the Edison Company. On the set he first met Hal Roach who would be the most influential person in his professional life. Roach (admittedly a poor actor) told Lloyd that someday he'd be a movie producer and he'd make him his star.
Soon afterward, Roach inherited enough money to begin a small production company (Phun Philms, quickly renamed Rolin, with a partner who he soon bought out) and contacted Lloyd to star in the kinds of films he wanted to make: comedies. On the basis of a handful of self-produced shorts starring Lloyd, he managed to land a production contract with the U.S. branch of the French firm, Pathe, who literally paid Road by the exposed foot of film on what films were accepted. Things were touch and go in the beginning, with improvised scenarios, outdoor shoots meaning Pathe rejected several of their first efforts, resulting in missed paydays. During his first contract with Roach he appeared in "Will E. Work" and then "Lonesome Luke" comedies, essentially cheap variations of Charles Chaplin's Little Tramp character. He abandoned the character in disgust in late 1917, adopting his "glasses" persona, an average young man capable of conquering any obstacle thrown at him. He began cementing his new image with Over the Fence (1917), that ushered in a prolific number of shorts through late 1921, often releasing 3 per month. In his "glasses" personification, Lloyd's popularity grew exponentially with each new release, but Lloyd rapidly grew dissatisfied with his relationship with his producer. Roach and Lloyd fought constantly; it's not so much that he didn't want to work for Roach, he didn't want to work for anyone - a trait he himself recognized from early on. To be fair, Roach was increasingly preoccupied with other stars (The "Our Gang" series was launched to huge success in 1922 and he also produced ''Snub' Pollard' shorts, among others) and although he would always resent Lloyd's attitude and ultimate defection to Paramount, the loss of his major star wouldn't financially cripple him. Lloyd had his own quirks; he fell in love with his first co-star Bebe Daniels, who left him after it became apparent he was unable to make a commitment (however the two would remain lifelong friends). Lloyd, in his own way was decidedly complex: he could be professionally generous (often allowing debatably deserving directorial credit to members of his crew) while being notoriously cheap. Yet he practiced little financial self control in anything that concerned himself. Wildly superstitious, he engaged in strict rituals about dressing himself, leaving through the same doors as he entered, and expected his chauffeurs to know which streets were unlucky to traverse. As his finances improved with age he happily indulged himself with a myriad of hobbies that would include breeding Great Danes, amassing cars, bowling, photography, womanizing, and high-fidelity stereo systems. He was open minded about homosexuals while being practically Victorian in his ideas about raising his daughters. He had an enormous libido and rumors abounded about illegitimate children and according to Roach, chronic bouts with VD. Most traumatically, he suffered the loss of his right thumb and forefinger in an accidental prop bomb explosion on August 14, 1919, just as his career was starting to take off. Lloyd would go to great lengths to hide his disability, spending thousands on flesh-colored prosthetic gloves and hiding his right hand whenever knowingly photographed, even long after his career ended. Upon his recovery he completed work on Haunted Spooks (1920) and successfully renegotiated his contract with Pathe, which began a career ascent that would rival Chaplin's (indeed, Lloyd was more successful, considering grosses on total output as Chaplin's output soon dwindled by comparison). Lloyd began feature film production with the 4-reel A Sailor-Made Man (1921). It began as a 2-reel short but contained, in his words, "so much good stuff we were loathe to take any of it out." It became a huge hit and continued to release hit features with ever increasing grosses but split with Hal Roach (who retained lucrative re-issue rights to his earlier films) after completing The Freshman (1925), one of his finest films. Pathe's U.S. operations quickly unraveled after their U.S. representative, Paul Brunet returned to France, and Lloyd made a decisive move (Roach himself would also leave Pathe, opting for a distribution deal with MGM - Mack Sennett, also distributed by Pathe, would be financially ruined). After weighing various attractive offers, Lloyd signed an advantageous contract with Paramount and racked up another hit with For Heaven's Sake (1926), one of his weakest silent features, yet it grossed an incredible $2.591 million, nearly equaling "The Freshman" and astonishing even himself.
Lloyd could do no wrong throughout the 1920s, he consistently earned at or near $1.5 million per film with his Paramount contract, and seemed invincible. He married his second co-star Mildred Davis on February 10, 1923 and she retired from acting (replaced by Jobyna Ralston). He built a huge 32-room mansion he christened, "Greenacres" that took over 3 years to complete and the couple eventually had 3 children. His final silent film, Speedy (1928), shot on location in New York, was one of the few major hits of the sound transition period and remains (as do most of Lloyd's films) thoroughly enjoyable today. The advent of sound proved problematic for the comedian. His films were gag-driven and his writing team was wholly unaccustomed to converting their type of comedy into dialog. While his first sound effort (began as a silent), Welcome Danger (1929) grossed nearly $3 million, by any standard it's a bad film, and marked a serious decline in Lloyd's screen persona; he became a talking comedian. Ironically, as bad as the film is, it would prove to be the last solid hit of his career. His next talkie, Feet First (1930), included a climb reminiscent (but technically superior to that) of his hit Safety Last! (1923), only being in sound, it contained every grunt and groan and proved painful to watch. With a gross of less that $1 million, Lloyd would see slightly over $300,000, his smallest feature paycheck to date, and it became clear he was in trouble. Lloyd fought back with Movie Crazy (1932). Generally regarded as his finest talkie, it grossed even less than "Feet First." Lloyd left Paramount for Fox and suffered his first outright flop with his next feature, The Cat's-Paw (1934), which grossed $693,000 against a negative cost of $617,000 ---resulting in red ink on a net basis. The miracle Harold Lloyd needed to salvage his career would never happen, but he refused to go down without a fight. Amazingly, the public was oblivious to his decline, and he was widely considered as one of the few silent comedy stars to have made a successful transition through the first decade of sound. But to those within the industry, the numbers didn't add up. Back at Paramount on a 2-movie deal, Lloyd starred in The Milky Way (1936), a better-than-average comedy that pulled a world-wide gross of $1.179 million, but it had production budget exceeding $1 million, resulting in a $250,000 loss for the studio. Paramount was livid, demanding a personal guarantee from Lloyd on anything over $600,000 for his next film, Professor Beware (1938). The comedian soon discovered he couldn't complete the film within the required budget and did something unprecedented --for him at least-- he invested his own money. The final production cost was $820,275 - and it grossed a mere $796,385 - and as a result of a complex payment deal, Lloyd ended up personally losing $119,400 on its initial release (he would eventually recoup the bulk of his losses over the next 35 years). At the relatively young age of 45, Harold Lloyd's Hollywood career was effectively over. Still immensely wealthy from a conservative investment strategy, and always hyperactive, he sought out ways to occupy his time, dragging his kids on marathon movie nights all across Los Angeles and falling back on his many hobbies. Foxy, who had handled the bulk of his correspondence (almost all Lloyd's pre-1938 autographs were actually signed by Foxy) and had carefully documented his press clippings since his acting career had began, retired to Palm Springs in 1938, leaving a void in Lloyd's life. He produced two pictures for RKO, A Girl, a Guy, and a Gob (1941), and a Kay Kyser vehicle, My Favorite Spy (1942) which must have looked good on paper but went nowhere at the box office. This ended his career as a producer. He would sign a $25,000 deal with Columbia in 1943 for a comeback project that never materialized. In 1944, Lloyd was approached by director Preston Sturges who envisioned a first-rate vehicle for him entitled, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947). The production launched Sturges' new California Pictures, was financed by Howard Hughes, and initially released by United Artists. It which proved to be a nightmare for everyone concerned. Its $1.7 million production cost proved to be an insurmountable obstacle preventing it from profitability and the eccentric Hughes withdrew it from circulation, later retitling it "Mad Wednesday," re-editing and re-releasing it as an RKO feature in 1951 to an even more dismal box office. Lloyd would also zealously protect ownership of his material and was quite litigious. He successfully sued MGM over their unauthorized poaching of his gags on a Joan Davis vehicle, She Gets Her Man (1945) (sadly an action that put the final nail in the professional coffin of the hopelessly alcoholic Clyde Bruckman). With his career at an end, Harold renewed his interest in photography and became involved with color film experiments. Some of the earliest 2 color Technicolor tests had been shot at Greenacres in 1929. In the late 1940s he became fascinated with color 3D still photography and often visited friends on film sets. Throughout the late 40s and well into the 1960s Lloyd indulged himself with glamor models. At his death, his collection of 3D stills numbered 250,000 (the vast majority of which are nudes). Recently his granddaughter published an elaborate book of photos carefully excised from the collection. In the late 1940s Lloyd became an active member of the Shriner's (he'd joined originally in 1924) and an effective administrator for their Los Angeles crippled children's hospital. Harold is reported to be the only actor that owned most of the films he appeared in (sadly many of the earliest ones were destroyed in a nitrite fire in a vault at Greenacres in 1943). This ownership gave him the ability to withhold his films from being shown on television; Lloyd feared incorrect projection speed and commercials would damage his reputation. As a result, a generation of film fans saw very few of his films and his reputation was diminished. He did release 2 compilation films, of which the first, World of Comedy (1962) was very successful. Mildred descended into alcoholism in the 1950s and died in 1969. Lloyd occupied his time with extensive travel (he thoroughly enjoyed speaking engagements where he could interact with students on the subject of silent film) and continued his pathological passion for his hobbies through the end of his life. He became interested in high fidelity stereo systems and habitually ordered several record companies' entire annual catalogs, eventually amassing an LP collection rivaling most record stores. He enjoyed cranking music to volumes that caused the inlaid gold leaf on Greenacres' ceilings to rain down on anyone below. Conversely, he balked at modernizing anything inside the mansion, seeing improvements and redecorating as things that would survive him, and thus a complete waste of money. Lloyd was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer by his brother-in-law, Dr. John Davis (Jack Davis, who starred in early "Our Gang" shorts) and died on March 8, 1971. His son, Harold Lloyd Jr. was an alcoholic homosexual and died soon afterward. Although Lloyd left an estate valued at $12 million (in 1971 dollars), he failed to make a provision for the maintenance of Greenacres, a blunder that would seriously complicate his estate. His granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd has been largely responsible for restoring his reputation of late, working to preserve his surviving films; many have been issued on HBO Video, Thames Video. Several have been superbly restored with new musical accompaniments and are shown periodically on TCM.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jack Backstreet
Harold Clayton Lloyd was born in Burchard, Nebraska on the 20th of April 1893. When Harold was 12 he joined the theatre usually just performing with his high school. Harold's father (nick-named 'Foxy') was not successful at business and Harold's mother regretted marrying him. Later, actor John Lane Connor asked Lloyd to go to Los Angeles with him. Lloyd, now divorced, won $3000 after an accident. They flipped a coin - it was either heads to California or tails to New York and it came up California according to Lloyd's daughter, Gloria, in "Harold Lloyd, The Third Genius" (1989) undoubtedly the most informative documentary on his life, which was produced by film historians David Gill & Kevin Brownlow.
While Harold and John Lane Connor were in San Diego, the Edison film company asked Connor to supply extras. This led to the first movie appearance of Lloyd in a 1913 film called The Old Monk's Tale (1913). That year Lloyd was cast as an extra in a movie called Rory 'o The Bogs where he came upon another extra, Hal Roach. They also appeared later on in Samson (1914) and in The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914). In 1915 Roach had developed a new film company and he invited Harold Lloyd for his own series. The studio now had a new name, Rolin. Harold was a slow developer at comedy. His first character was called Willie Work, later Lonesome Luke, which was an imitation of Charlie Chaplin's tramp character. Just Nuts (1915), the first Lonesome Luke, was a success and Roach wanted no change. Finally in 1917 Lloyd thought up a new character called simply "Glasses" character. Lloyd directed the first of these movies but later knew it's impossible to act and direct at the same time. Roach had later claimed he had invented the character but it was indeed Lloyd's idea. He was joined by a huge company including 'Snub' Pollard & Bebe Daniels.
In 1921 it was time for Lloyd to begin making feature-length comedies. The first of these was A Sailor-Made Man (1921) which was a huge a success. It was followed by Grandma's Boy (1922). Lloyd wanted Grandma's Boy to be just a dramatic picture but when he previewed it in a theatre the audience was not laughing. So Roach got all the writers to work out gags for the picture. After the film was released Lloyd recognized it as one of the greatest accomplishments.
Next came an interesting picture called Dr. Jack (1922)followed by Lloyd's most spectacular film, Safety Last! (1923)in 1923. The film showed Lloyd dangling from a clock on the side of a building. At the end of that year Lloyd left Roach and formed his own company called 'The Harold Lloyd corporation' where for the first 2 years he distributed his movies through Pathe and later for Paramount. His most popular film was The Freshman (1925) in 1925. In 1928 Lloyd had already written his own autobiography "An American Comedy" the same year where he made his last silent film entitled Speedy (1928).
In 1929 Lloyd began making a film called Welcome Danger (1929)where he originally shot it as a silent film but later on he re-shot it as a talking film. His career was going down with the dawn of sound. He made one more thrill picture called Feet First (1930)in the style of Safety Last. But with the depression hitting, he no longer achieved the same fame as he did in the roaring twenties. He returned two years later with an amazing film which was regarded as his best talkie. The movie was Movie Crazy (1932) where Lloyd considered he was at his funniest. Convinced it was a hit he went on a trip to Europe. He later returned to Hollywood and had learned that the film had been a flop, he reduced himself to one film every two years. He made another great talking film entitled The Milky Way (1936) in 1936, directed by Leo McCarey. After one of his last movies, Professor Beware (1938), although he didn't exactly retire he just drifted away from the film industry. He produced two more films for RKO in the early 40s before retiring. After that he found many more interests including the study of color and such. Later on he took numerous photographs of Marilyn Monroe.
In 1947, director Preston Sturges, who had never forgotten 'The Freshman' wanted to make a tribute to Lloyds career. So Lloyd agreed to make a movie with Sturges, which in the end was titled The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947), but it didn't reach the top. Three years later producer Howard Hughes re-issued and edited it down to 79 minutes and changed the title to Mad Wednesday. Lloyd was now nearly forgotten. Although the film was unsuccessful, in 1951 Lloyd was nominated for a golden globe for best Motion Picture Actor in a musical or comedy. But he did receive an honorary Oscar in 1953 for being a master comedian and good citizen.
In 1962 he compiled some of his silent comedies into two documentaries, which were called Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy & another one in 1963 entitled Harold Lloyd's Funny Side of Life. Lloyd re-released some of his films and his fame was coming back but not as it once was. He died in 1971 at the age of 78. He was also known for his generous charity work. His stars on the walk of fame are at 6840 Hollywood Blvd & at 1501 Vine Street, California.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Daniel Dopierala firstname.lastname@example.org
|Mildred Davis||(10 February 1923 - 18 August 1969) (her death) (3 children)|
Trade Mark (3)
Personal Quotes (13)
|Just Nuts (1915)||$5 /day|
|Professor Beware (1938)||$125,000|
|The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947)||$140,000|