Jobyna Ralston Remembered by matthew c. hoffman

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One of the many joys of discovering Harold Lloyd’s silent films is his co-star from six of them, Jobyna Ralston (1899-1967). Though her name, which Lloyd pronounced as Jo-BYE-na, is far from recognizable to most film buffs, she is nevertheless loved and cherished by many Harold Lloyd fans. I never knew who she was until I started watching his films. But now she is easily my favorite of his leading ladies. I hope future audiences will appreciate her presence as much as I have.

Jobyna was Harold’s on-screen replacement for Mildred Davis, whom he had married. Though Davis certainly did not detract from Lloyd’s films, no one would confuse her with Sarah Bernhardt. In her defense, though, she wasn’t given too much to do. Davis did supply a Mary Pickford-type innocence that suited the roles. Ralston, on the other hand, had more personality and a greater on-screen chemistry with Lloyd. There was something magical about her. She was charming and beautiful with expressive, almost hypnotic, eyes that hinted at depths beneath the surface. Her beauty draws you back to a lost world of movie innocence. Jobyna’s image in vintage portraits, such as the one below, recalls the Art Nouveau paintings of the late 19th century…

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She appeared with Lloyd in Why Worry?, Girl Shy, Hot Water, The Freshman, For Heaven’s Sake, and The Kid Brother. After leaving Harold Lloyd, she starred in films such as 1927’s Wings, which was the first film to win a Best Picture Academy Award– and the only silent film to do so. That same year she married actor Richard Arlen. (They would have one son before divorcing in 1945.)

Jobyna would appear in only a couple talkies– starring opposite Rin Tin Tin in her last film, 1930’s Rough Waters.  But it is for her films with Harold Lloyd that she’ll be remembered. She’ll always be Mary from the medicine show in The Kid Brother.  Harold Lloyd scaled a tall tree just to watch her and shout “Goodbye!” to her. Jobyna Ralston has long since disappeared over that hillside, but the youthful memory of her remains like a beautiful dream captured forever on film.Photobucket

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Why Worry?

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The Freshman

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The Kid Brother

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More publicity photos…

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For more information on Jobyna Ralston, please refer to Annette D’Agostino Lloyd’s The Harold Lloyd Encyclopedia (McFarland, 2004).

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2 Responses to “Jobyna Ralston Remembered by matthew c. hoffman”

  1. Love the video posted at the end of this page. Jobyna may not be recognized by many but she has always been a gem and my favorite actress of all time.

  2. I have only recently discovered the magic that Harold Lloyd created with Jobyna Ralston in two movies I’ve seen; “The Freshman” and “The Kid Brother” and I have to say Jobyna had such an alluring quality that I’m so happy to have discovered. I need to watch more of Harold and Jobyna. Thanks for the photo postings. The one with the pith helmet is especially nice. Ravel’s music was an excellent choice.

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