Harold Lloyd was a silent film comedian who rivaled Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. His films are full of gags, slapstick and thrills scenes. The image of him hanging high above the ground from a clock hand on the side of a building in the film Safety Last! (1923) is iconic. Although stuntmen were used, Lloyd did a lot of his own stunts. He pioneered new camera techniques and previewed his films to audiences. His career spanned 33 years (1914-1947) with approximately 200 films to his credit. In 1953 he was awarded an Honorary Oscar.
One of his earlier characters was Lonesome Luke. It was an imitation of Charlie Chaplin with tight clothes and a mustache. He made 62 films with this character between 1915 and 1917.
Lloyd’s “Glasses” character was guy the next door. With this character his career took off and the romantic comedy was born.
Some of Lloyd’s films include: Haunted Spooks (1920), High and Dizzy (1920), Get Out and Get Under (1920), Grandma’s Boy (1922), Safety Last! (1923), Girl Shy (1924) The Freshman (1925), Speedy (1928) (his last silent film), Welcome Danger (1929) (his first talkie) and Movie Crazy (1932) just to name a few.
During the filming of Haunted Spooks in 1919, Lloyd was doing a photo shoot at Witzel Studios. He was supposed to light a prop bomb fuse with a cigarette. It was actually real. The bomb went off in his hand and he lost his thumb and forefinger on his right hand. After that he wore a special prosthetic glove in his movies so no one could tell the difference. After the accident he concealed his right hand in photographs. It’s amazing to see him doing stunts with one whole hand.
For Speedy (1928) Lloyd rebuilt New York on his back lot and the main exterior scenes were shot on location on the streets of New York. It has an amazing chase sequence with a horse drawn trolley.
Lloyd’s leading ladies were Bebe Daniels, Mildred Harris (who became his wife in 1923) and Jobyna Ralston.
Greenacres was Harold Lloyd’s magnificent 15 acre estate. The house was completed in 1928 and cost $2,000,000. The house is 45,000 square feet with 44 rooms consisting of 6 bedrooms, 26 bathrooms, and a sunken living room. The grounds were just as impressive. There was a 9-hole golf course, 12 fountains, 7 gardens, tennis court, Olympic size pool, canoe pond, and greenhouse just to name a few things. In addition, there was a Fairyland estate for his daughter that had a fully operational mini cottage with running water and electricity. On this estate were stables, a wishing well, garden and slide.
In 1943 a fire broke out in his vault at his home and he lost many of his films.
The Greenacres Christmas Tree
Lloyd loved to collect blown glass ornaments and the family loved Christmas. Starting after Thanksgiving up until Christmas they would decorate the tree. This was no ordinary tree. It was made up of several trees wired together as one. As his ornament collection grew so did the tree. Lloyd had thousands of ornaments. Lloyd finally fireproofed the tree and left it up all year round. I wonder what happened to all those ornaments?
Lloyd lived in the house until his death in 1971. Sadly, as with many of the homes of Hollywood stars the land was divided and sold. The house still remains.
In addition to being a comedian, Lloyd also loved Photography. In 1952 Lloyd photographed Marilyn Monroe at his house.
Harold Lloyd created a remarkable and memorable character that still entertains, wows and thrills people today.