by Christina Kimble
From The Blind Side (2009), to The Longest Yard (2005) to Remember the Titans (2000), football has played an importance in film, but The Freshman (1925) is accredited as being the trigger that inspired football in film to remain lively throughout the decades.
Perhaps Harold Lloyd’s performance inspired this film’s preservation.
Born in Burchard, Nebraska, on April 20, 1893, Lloyd held parts in more than 50 films before captivating audiences with his lead role as Harold Lamb (aka Speedy), a nerd in college who strives for popularity by playing on the school’s team through the help of his one true friend, Peggy.
Prior to the making of The Freshman, Lloyd received education in Denver and San Diego high schools before receiving some stage training at the School of Dramatic Art (San Diego). He made his first debut at age 12 as Little Abe in Tess of d’Ubervilles with the Burwood Stock Company of Omaha.
Lloyd gained an initial foothold in comedy films after Hal Roach, a movie director who inherited money and later began his own small production company, remembered Lloyd trying out for a role in San Diego’s Pan American Exposition by the Edison Company, and hired him.
In the 1920s, Lloyd earned $1.5 million per silent film and went on to work for Paramount. Lloyd’s final silent film was Speedy (1928), but his popularity continued after the coming of sound albeit, a difficult transition.
His gag-driven acts translated with difficulty into the era of the talking comedian. The lowest grossing paycheck Lloyd received was $300,000 in Safety Last (1923). Professor Beware (1938) was Lloyd’s last ditch effort, at the age of 45 to please Paramount. He failed. After dipping into his own pocket, the film grossed about $800,000 with earnings below the production cost by about $20,000.
Lloyd died from cancer on March 8, 1971, in Beverly Hills, California.
Fun Facts about Harold Lloyd:
- Lloyd lost his right thumb and forefinger in an accidental prop bomb explosion on August 14, 1919.
- He adopted a “Glasses” persona and character, where without his glasses no one recognized him, and the Superman character is said to have been inspired from him.
- His hobbies were said to have been breeding Great Danes, amassing cars, bowling, photography, womanizing and high-fidelity stereo systems.
- Was open minded about homosexuals, but Victorian about raising his daughters.
- Lloyd’s GreenAcres estate had a 32-room mansion, and he lost a lot of his silent films in a nitrite fire in a vault there in 1943.