Harold Lloyd

  • American

American Silent film great - Phantom


Y/M/D Description Association Composition Place Locale Food Event
Y/M/D Description Association Composition Place Locale Food Event
1893/04/20 Harold Clayton Lloyd is born in a frame house in Burchard, Nebraska to Sara Elizabeth Fraser and James Darsie Lloyd. Born Harold Lloyd Birthplace Burchard Harold Lloyd's Birthday
1923/00/00 Buys lot to build an estate Home Harold Lloyd Estate Beverly Hills
1923/00/00 "Safety Last! " is released. Actor Safety Last!
1925/09/20 "The Freshman" is released Actor The Freshman
1927/00/00 "The Kid Brother " is released. Actor The Kid Brother


Harold Clayton Lloyd was born April 20, 1893 in the frame house in Burchard, Nebraska. His parents were Sara Elizabeth Fraser, originally from Illinois, and James Darsie Lloyd. He had one brother, Gaylord, who was five years older. The Lloyd family had originally moved from Pennsylvania to southeastern Nebraska in the late 1880's when Harold's grandfather opened a general store in Burchard. Sara Fraser came from Toulon, Illinois to visit relatives in Nebraska, and while in Burchard, met and married James D Lloyd. The Burchard house, constructed in 1883, was purchased by James and Sara Lloyd in March, 1890.

James and Sara expanded their family with the birth of Harold while living in their Burchard home. James D Lloyd was what some people might call a dreamer. It was this trait that led him from one occupation to another, from a door-to-door Singer Sewing Machine salesman to managing shoe and hardware stores. The Lloyd family left Burchard in April of 1897 when James' latest venture was opening a photographic studio in Humboldt, Nebraska.

This scenario was repeated many times during the next 15 years of Harold Lloyd's life, leading the family through five communities in Nebraska and three in Colorado, many of them two and three separate times in varying order. In fact, in later years, members of the Lloyd family couldn't agree on the exact chronology and places of residence for their many moves (Harold Lloyd, An American Comedy, L928, p 1). Perhaps this unstable home life was what eventually led to the divorce of James and Sara in 1910 while the family lived in Colorado.

The concept of a "hometown" is something that evaded Harold Lloyd in later life, and one that had no meaning to a youngster moving from town to town. Although Harold's family lived in four other Nebraska communities: Pawnee City, Humboldt, Beatrice, and Omaha, their residence in these other towns was usually a few months or less. In some of these towns the Lloyds stayed with various relatives or rented, making it difficult if not impossible, to substantiate their residency. The Harold Lloyd birthplace, therefore, is the best remaining house that is substantially associated with Lloyd's childhood and adolescence in Nebraska.

Throughout Harold's life he had fond memories of his childhood adventures, most of which were about his interactions with other children. Ironically, in several biographies, his 1928 autobiography, and in many newspaper accounts, there is an absence of family memories beyond the few that related to Harold and his mother's efforts to make extra money. Harold's passion as a child was the theater and later, movies. Lloyd was quoted as stating, "I was possessed from my earliest youth with a definite, violent desire to act that in no wise [sic] conformed with the rest of my character," (Tom Dardis, Harold Llovd: The Man on the Clock, 1983, p 8) He was encouraged from the beginning in this love by his mother, who had always wanted to be an actress. She was known to drive for miles through a snowstorm to see a vaudeville troop perform. Mrs Lloyd read Shakespeare for amusement and to Harold, who later recalled falling asleep in her lap while listening to "Romeo and Juliet" (Dardis, 1983, pp 8-9).

Due to the frequent moves and the family's financial situation, Harold learned to be resourceful and industrious at a young age. To earn money he watered animals in a circus, pretended to be hypnotized in a sideshow and was a driver's helper on a milk wagon. Lloyd also worked as a soda jerk and started his own business selling popcorn. He fostered his connection to the theater by working as an usher, call boy, and stage hand when various travelling companies came to the town he happened to be living in. Harold seized every acting opportunity he could, ranging from bit parts in community play houses to the lead role in high school plays.

While a high school senior in California, Harold got a bit part as an extra in a movie being filmed in San Diego by the Edison Film Company. He followed the company back to Los Angeles and continued to work as an extra in 1913. During this time he became friends with another extra by the name of Hal Roach. The following year Roach inherited some money and went into business making his own comedy movies and cast Harold as the lead in many of them.

Harold Lloyd developed several characters, but it was the "Glasses Character" that secured his future. By 1917, the weekly one-reelers of featuring this character were so popular that Roach was forced to pay Lloyd a percentage of the producer's royalties to prevent other movie producers from hiring him. Before venturing into feature films in 1921, Lloyd and Roach had made approximately 160 one-reelers, 10 two-reelers, and several three-reelers (Adarn Reilly, Harold Lloyd, 1977, pp 3-4).

Lloyd's highly successful feature length films followed each other in quick succession in the 1920's. Some of the most famous of these silent comedy films were "Grandma's Boy (1922), "Safety Last" (1923), and "The Freshman" (1925). Harold Lloyd continued to be successful in film even with the advent of "talking pictures." During the 1930's and '40's, however, these movies were not as profitable as his silent film classics, and by the mid-40's, Lloyd retired. - NRHP, 1 November 1993

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