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First Man In Space

Harold Lloyd was to the 1920’s what Cary Grant was to the 30’s and 40’s, Jimmy Stewart was to the 50’s and 60’s, and what Harrison Ford and Tom Hanks are to the present day. He was an Everyman.


Harold Lloyd was the cinema’s “first man in space.” He was a product of the movies. His comedy wasn’t imported from Broadway or the British Music Hall. He began his career just as the art form was created. He learned to use the camera the way other comics used a bowler hat or a funny walk. He was the first filmmaker to put an average guy up on the screen –a guy with faults, and fears, “the boy next door.”

Of all the silent film comedians, Harold Lloyd was the most profitable. His films out grossed Chaplin and Keaton put together. He pioneered new camera techniques and was the first filmmaker to preview his films to a test audience. He was the number one box office star two years in a row. His movies were adored. He was a world famous star. Even today, at film festivals around the world, the response to his comedy attests to Lloyd’s comic genius.

In recent years, his work is often overlooked. Not because his films are dated, or that his humor is no longer funny. Lloyd is unknown because in later years, Harold refused to let his films be shown on television. His humor built one joke on top of another, a roller coaster ride, and he didn’t want his movies chopped up by commercial interruption. Because Harold Lloyd owned all his films, he was free to do as he pleased.

In his later years, he devoted his time to running the Shriner’s Hospitals for Crippled Children and introducing his films to college campuses. In 1952 he received and honorary Oscar for being a “Master Comedian and Good Citizen.” He died in 1971 at the age of 77.

In a film career that spanned more than 35 years, Harold Lloyd made more than 200 comedies. Today over 80 titles still exist. Virtually all of Harold’s classic feature works survive. In the last few years, the films have been restored by UCLA and The Harold Lloyd Trust. Both Safety Last! (1923) and The Freshman (1925) are on the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry.

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