Archive for March, 2011

What’s Old Is New Again: The Silent Film Awakening by matthew c. hoffman

Posted in Uncategorized on March 26, 2011 by mchoffman


Last night the Park Ridge Public Library registered the biggest turnout thus far for Legends of Laughter with 75+ patrons– and we are only three weeks into the film festival. A near capacity crowd for two silent movies! By an odd coincidence– and it is a coincidence– yesterday, March 24, was  Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s 124th birthday. Before the first feature, I played “The Garage” (1920), which featured Keaton and his mentor, Fatty Arbuckle. It was with Arbuckle that Keaton learned to tell stories with a camera.

Like the week before, the response was wonderful for both Sherlock, Jr. (1924) and The Navigator (1924). I can’t stress enough how important it is for people to see these films with an audience. The films do come alive in a way they cannot on your TV. Both films received the  expected reactions at all the right places, such as Buster’s motorcycle chase in Sherlock, Jr, and his underwater scene in The Navigator to repair the ship. What a terrific moment… In my talk between films I made a point to quote Buster’s story of how this sequence was shot in Lake Tahoe. I’d rather not repeat material in the blog that I’ve already discussed in my presentations, so if anyone would like to read of how this sequence was filmed, check out Kevin Brownlow’s version of it in The Parade’s Gone By.

Even though what I’m doing is only a facsimile of the theatrical experience, it still beats home viewing, and it’s light years ahead of watching it on a computer or on some hand-held device. Despite our more modest venue, people are able to rediscover a genius at work. I’m playing films that I love, and I’m explaining why I think they still work. People are catching on, and they are getting excited about what they are seeing. These films may be almost 90 years old, but you wouldn’t know it listening to the laughter when Keaton is fighting off the island cannibals in The Navigator.

This looks to be a scene Buster chopped from Sherlock, Jr.


Like deep-sea divers, attendees to the series are plunging down into the depths of cinema history. A lot of people are afraid to explore what’s down there, generations old. They’re immediately put off by their perceptions of things missing– as though these elements are somehow needed; they have been trained to accept certain things (sound, color) as absolutely essential. “It’s in black and white? I can’t watch that!” But those who are content staying onboard are not the people who are supporting Legends of Laughter. Seventy-five plus people took the plunge, and they are being rewarded by the film treasures they are finding down there in history. They are seeing the wonderful–sometimes strange– things that make Buster Keaton the unique icon that he is in American history.

One of those things about Keaton that is so special is the authenticity behind the work. That really was Keaton doing his stunts, such as riding on the handlebars of the motorcycle in Sherlock, Jr. In his silent film career, it was as though Keaton had an unwritten contract with his audience, and he never cheated them. Actors today, by contrast, are prima donnas when it comes to physical work. But Keaton was doing this dangerous work himself because he took the art form seriously enough to risk his life– time and again. He respected the intelligence of his audience and knew if he faked something with a stunt double– or a cut in the editing room– his audience would know it. With rare exceptions—such as the pole-vault he couldn’t do in the film College—Buster Keaton followed-through with the stunt, and people knew it was him performing it. As an aside, those who know the Keaton story know that Sherlock Jr. is the film in which he fractured his neck. It came during the scene in which he’s on top of the train and he pulls down on the chain of an overhead water spout. The water knocked him down and he hit the back of his head on the railroad track.  Keaton was serious about being funny.

So I am thrilled that people are coming out and rediscovering these films. One patron commented to me afterward that he thought it was a shame they don’t make films like this anymore. No, they don’t. They can’t. Comic invention has been replaced by vulgar stand-up. But as long as we do programs like this, the traditions of silent cinema will live. One of my recurring themes is the importance of spreading this to the next generation. It was encouraging to see younger faces in attendance, like a 16 year old seeing his first silent movie and responding with even more laughter than that of the parent who brought him.

It’s important that we not only come out and watch the films but that we absorb them into our lives. By that I mean, we actively promote the legacy of Keaton and we raise our own standards as to the films we see from now on. Anyone can buy “The Art of Buster Keaton” on dvd and keep it on their shelf to collect dust while they feel cultured for owning it. But we are not that crowd. The goal is to never forget the high standards we see in these films. It must be shared. Our enthusiasm must be active.

All the other entertainments today– the things that keep some from coming to the series– pale by comparison. Stop with the ephemera of television. Put away the iPads and video games and all the toys, and open up your mind to pure cinema. This is how filmmakers used to make films. Keaton’s were some of the most inventive in screen comedy. Watching them inspires us to expect more of filmmakers today. The films of Buster Keaton still have a lot to tell us about the universe around us– a sometimes chaotic universe. Like his projectionist character in our first film, we can be inspired by what we see on the screen.


A metaphor for life itself, we are in a dark place in the theatre– our world away from the real world. But there is that radiant light that pours out from the screen. That is the impact of the silent clowns. That ability to uplift and make us laugh and dream bigger… Nowhere would I rather be. Yes, Robert Osborne was in town that same night at the Music Box, and it would’ve been nice to meet Mr. TCM, but aside from that, in all honesty, I’d rather be watching Sherlock, Jr. than Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.



Harold Lloyd Over the Border by mariela mendez & matthew c. hoffman

Posted in Uncategorized on March 23, 2011 by mchoffman


It’s no great revelation that the movies bring us together. The influence of the silent clowns is cross-cultural. The laughter is universal. Harold Lloyd’s impact is indeed international.

One of the many Harold Lloyd films I wish I could’ve played in the Park Ridge Public Library film series is one of my personal favorites: 1923’s Why Worry?— perhaps his most insane comedy. Harold plays a wealthy hypochondriac in need of rest. With his nurse (played by his best leading lady, Jobyna Ralston), he travels to one of those vague movieland countries that seem to exist in some alternate universe. Though the Latin American locale is called “Paradiso,” it is clearly supposed to be Mexico. (A Mexican flag hanging from a building in one of the stills is the tip-off.)


Being as self-centered as he is, Harold Van Pelham naturally thinks the revolution that is taking place around him is in his honor. Eventually thrown into prison, he befriends an 8 foot 9 inch giant named “Colosso” who has an even bigger toothache. This companion will come in handy later when the trio attempts to thwart the advance of an entire regiment.

This is the only Lloyd film that comes close to the anarchic zaniness of the Marx Brothers. I thought I was alone in my appreciation of its brilliant absurdity because I didn’t know anyone personally who had seen it. So imagine my surprise when I heard a voice from south of the border that championed the film.

The following story comes from a teenager in Mexico named Mariela. She is one of the most devoted fans of Harold Lloyd I’ve come across, and she is the youngest officer in my facebook movie group: Legends of Laughter. It is always a pleasure discussing Harold’s films with her because her life clearly has been touched by the magic silence. 

The world beyond the theatre door can sometimes be a challenge, but friends like Mariela are there to ask, “Why Worry?” 


“La Comedia en Mi Vida”

Aún recuerdo que, hace cerca de 3 años, yo había tenido unos días algo difíciles un poco más de lo normal, ni la televisión, ni el internet, nada me animaba, cuando todo parecía tan común, tan vacio; hay días en los que todos sentimos eso, supongo.

Pero hubo una noche en el cual mi padre llegó conmigo y me mostro un video mudo de 3:01 minutos donde aparecía un tipo bien vestido y atractivo bailando con una joven en un salón para fiestas.



Al muchacho se le presentaron una serie de pequeños inconvenientes a los cuales actuó de cierta forma la cual me hizo reír a carcajadas, como hace mucho no lo hacía. Ese video era una pequeña parte de una película llamada “An Eastern Westerner ” (1920), protagonizada por Harold Lloyd, el cual por casualidad resulto ser el muchacho del que les hablo.

En fin, me gusto tanto el video, que decidí buscar otros mas, y así pude terminar viendo una cuarta  parte de su filmografía (un aproximado de 50 películas), entre ellas “Safety Last!” (1923), “Why Worry?” (1923), “Hot Water” (1924), The Freshman (1925), The Kid Brother (1927), Speedy (1928), entre otras.


En el film “Safety Last!” terminé enamorándome del personaje (protagonizado por Harold Lloyd) en una escena donde él aparecía pagando todo su salario y quedándose sin comer (ni siquiera un café) para enviarle un collar a su prometida (Mildred Davis), la cual lo esperaría en un pueblito donde él vivía, para cuando mejoraran las cosas por fin casarse. Como todos ustedes saben, el terminó escalando un edificio de una considerable altura por ella, (adorable ¿verdad?).

Decidí también investigar a Harold Lloyd, todo lo que era él, como se sobrellevó ante las adversidades presentadas en su camino y todas las maravillas que hacía con sus películas, (ya después de fallecido me daba lecciones de vida) y así fue como descubrí que (como muchos lo saben) Harold Lloyd es un genio.



Después lo busqué en Facebook y cierto tiempo después encontré un grupo llamado “Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, & Charlie Chaplin: Legends of Laughter” (y de esta manera conocí a un muy, muy querido amigo también dueño de este blog) y descubrí a otros dos pioneros de la comedia (Buster Keaton y Charles Chaplin), en verdad no los conozco tanto como a Harold Lloyd pero también vi que hicieron maravillas en sus películas.

En estos días, me parece absurdo que la mayoría de la opinión pública es: Si no hay algún comentario o doble sentido vulgar, no causa risa, últimamente se ha perdido el hilo de lo que es en realidad puramente divertido.Se supone que un verdadero comediante es aquel que no tiene la necesidad de humillarse o hacer un comentario de mal gusto para dar risa. La comedia actual se ha ido degradando mucho con el tiempo.


Es triste que hoy el público no conozca u olvide a estas personas que marcaron la vida del cine y la de nosotros, nos hicieron pasar ratos de diversión, y también nos conmovieron hasta derramar un par de lágrimas. Pero no solo fueron ellos 3, (aunque sí de los más importantes) también hubo más, pero el punto es que no debemos olvidar lo que marcó nuestras vidas en un buen aspecto: La comedia antigua.


NOTE: The following is my best translation in English. It is not perfect and some of it is paraphrased, but I hope it conveys the spirit of Mariela’s original text.

“The Comedy in My Life”

I still remember that about three years ago I had a few days that were a little more difficult than usual. Neither television, nor the Internet, nothing encouraged me. Everything seemed so common, so empty. There are days in which we all feel so, I guess.

But there was one night where my father came to me and showed a silent video of three minutes where a guy appeared who was dressed and dancing with a girl in a party room.

The boy had a series of small problems in which he acted in a way that made ​​me laugh out loud. It had been a long time since I laughed. That video was a small part of a movie called An Eastern Westerner (1920), starring Harold Lloyd, who, by chance, happened to be the boy of whom I speak.

Anyway, I liked both the videos, so I decided to find more. I finished watching a quarter of his filmography (approximately 50 films), including Safety Last! (1923), Why Worry? (1923), Hot Water (1924), The Freshman (1925), The Kid Brother (1927), Speedy (1928), among others.

In the film Safety Last! I ended up falling in love with the character (played by Harold Lloyd) in a scene where he appeared to be spending all his salary and running out of food (not even coffee) in order to send a necklace to his fiancée (Mildred Davis). Until the day when they could marry, she was living in his home town.  As you all know, he ended up climbing a building of considerable height for her (adorable, right?).

I wanted to find him on Facebook, and some time later I found a group called “Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin: Legends of Laughter.” (In this way I met a very, very dear friend who is also administrator of this blog.) I discovered the other two pioneers of comedy (Buster Keaton and Charles Chaplin). Really, I don’t know about them as much as Harold Lloyd, but I also see that they, too, did wonders in their films.

In these days, it seems absurd that most of the public opinion is:
if there isn’t any vulgar double meaning, there isn’t any laughter. The plot gets lost.

It is assumed that a true comedian is one who has no need to humiliate or make a comment in poor taste to make us laugh.

Current comedy has deteriorated significantly over time.

It is sad that today the public does not know or simply forgets these people who marked the life of the cinema and us. We were spending time in fun, but also in moments that moved us to shed a few tears. But not only these three (comics)–although, yes, the most important– but others. The point is that we should not forget the good aspects that touched our lives: the old comedy.


The First Two Weeks by matthew c. hoffman

Posted in Uncategorized on March 19, 2011 by mchoffman


No 3-D. Or color for that matter. No Stereo Surround. Or even a dialogue track. Yet, last night on St. Patrick’s Day, during the showing of Safety Last, there was more energy in that meeting room than you’d find in the local cineplex down the street.

The difference between this film and the one I played last week on Opening Night, The Gold Rush, can be measured not so much by attendance– Safety Last only had 3 more patrons for a total of 71– but by audience response. Safety Last received about four times the number of laughs the Chaplin film got. People were genuinely involved with Harold Lloyd, especially with the building-climbing sequence that climaxes the film. This must’ve been how Safety Last played with audiences in 1923. It’s amazing that after all these years, this silent film still provides the thrills. It is the group experience that brings it out. It was as though the audience watching the movie was as captivated as the crowd in the movie that watched him go higher. The collective gasps in the room could not be duplicated sitting in front of a computer screen watching it stream off Netflix.  

I knew it could do this with an audience because I had seen it done before by the Silent Film Society of Chicago. That was with a live organ accompaniment, though, and about 2000 people in attendance at the Gateway. Yet, we were still able to recapture the same magic at our modest venue.

Some of the comments were what I expected. I knew people would be surprised by Harold Lloyd once they discovered him. His films hold up remarkably well. Harold’s progression up the building in Safety Last— and the various obstacles that get in his way– reveal how timeless the sequence is. This is a movie that is almost 90 years old, and yet people were loving it. It may have been the best reaction to any film in the three years I’ve been doing this for the Park Ridge Public Library. One patron thought the film was astounding. I had to point out that some of Lloyd’s best work is still to come.


There were  fewer laughs during The Gold Rush, but patrons were respectful and understood it was a masterpiece. Chaplin went more for pathos in that film. Maybe some patrons felt the weight of the 96 minute version I played, or maybe they had to get acclimated to the silent medium in this new film series. 

Or maybe audiences need Harold more today. With so much negativity and cynicism going on in the world, we want to see a hero attempt a feat (of real accomplishment) in the face of danger, as in Safety Last, or overcome embarrassment to become a star in The Freshman, or come to the aid of the old-timers in Speedy. It is Harold’s optimism that is completely unique. For a sequence that best illustrates this special quality of his, watch the opening of Dr. Jack in which Harold plays a small-town doctor curing people of their “ills.”

Harold was the Everyman, and that is never more obvious than when we see his films juxtaposed with those of the other comics in Legends of Laughter. He’s just like us, but that in itself is not the reason why he reached the heights of screen comedy. Chaplin’s Little Tramp was certainly not like us. We could never hope to have his adaptability to whatever situation presented itself to him. But his character conveyed universal truths and revealed a shared humanity. We could never be as stoic in the face of chaos as Keaton’s Great Stone Face. But his character’s struggle against a random universe is also our struggle.  This deeper connection to the audience Harold, too, was able to make. It’s not just that he’s like us in appearance and is “normal”-looking, but his interior and exterior struggles are ones we still face today.

Harold took this connection and framed it within films that revealed his best qualities as a performer. Harold’s films continue to tower over so many others. All it takes is an audience to discover this for themselves. He was not the actor Chaplin was, but he was a greater showman, and he knew how to make an entertaining product and present it with feeling. His films had genuine heart born from experience. He listened to his audiences, and if there was some disconnect, he would go back to the studio and correct it. His films may not have been as inventive as Keaton’s, but they were consistently better crafted from cast to photography. In terms of story construction and gag execution, he was every bit as good as Buster Keaton. Harold Lloyd was a master of the comedy technique.

So, it will be interesting to see which comic attracts the most attention in this series and what the responses will be by the end of the program in June. I sincerely hope younger people will continue to show up and discover this treasure trove of cellu-Lloyd. Not those who come because their teachers assigned it as extra credit and it’s unavailable to rent elsewhere. But the ones who realize that something special is taking place underneath the film radar at the Park Ridge Public Library.

There are twelve stories to go in our climb.


Speedy (1928) by matthew c. hoffman

Posted in Uncategorized on March 12, 2011 by mchoffman

Advance tickets now available at the Pickwick Theatre!
In Speedy (1928), Harold Lloyd must preserve the old traditions and save New York City’s last horse-drawn trolley. This is also a film about helping friends who are in need. Across the cobblestone streets of old New York, Harold must race his trolley like a chariot in a desperate attempt to keep Pop Dillon’s business going.  Shot on location in New York, this rousing crowd-pleaser is a valentine to the Big Apple with its wonderfully evocative images of Coney Island. It’s a time and place not completely gone from memory. Lloyd has captured it so brilliantly on film. He did it in a way that, eighty-three years later, still gets us excited. As the New York Times reviewer wrote in April, 1928: “…wherever Mr. Lloyd takes you in this film he rather makes you regret that you haven’t been there for some time.”

Speedy is infused with a spirit of life and youth. It is this energy and joy which Harold brings to the role that becomes contagious for viewers. He is both funny and romantic– in a leading man sort of way– that no other comic could match; no other comic was as normal as Harold Lloyd.  Harold the man was every bit the high-energy character we see on the screen.  (As a bit of trivia, “Speedy” was actually Lloyd’s nickname in real-life, given to him by his father.) 

Lifestyles change and the years go by, but it’s hard to imagine any contemporary audience being disappointed by this film. And with baseball season’s Opening Day just around the corner, what better film to showcase than this one in which Harold plays a baseball-obsessed soda jerk who can’t hold down a job! (But when you are as resourceful and optimistic as Harold, you don’t stay unemployed for long.) This would be his last silent film and, some would argue (myself included), his last great film. Speedy was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Comedy Direction (Ted Wilde)– the only year this category existed.

Speedy also stars Ann Christy, Bert Woodruff, and “King Tut” the dog!


The Park Ridge Public Library and the Silent Film Society of Chicago (in partnership with the Pickwick Theatre) will be screening this wonderful film on April 10, 2011, at 6:30 pm. We will be playing a 35mm print of the film direct from the Harold Lloyd Foundation. A live organ accompaniment will be provided courtesy of Jay Warren of the Silent Film Society.

In addition, there will be a short film preceding the feature: 1921’s “Never Weaken,” which also stars Harold Lloyd. Admission is only $8. (The first 500 theatregoers will receive a commemorative ticket for this event.)

“The King of Daredevil Comedy” in 1921’s “Never Weaken.”


This was how the film was meant to be seen– not on a tv screen or, even worse, on youtube! We’ll be experiencing it in an art deco palace erected the same year Speedy was released. This one-night only screening is the centerpiece of the Park Ridge Public Library’s “Legends of Laughter” film series, so we cordially invite you to be there for this special event. Like Harold’s character in the movie, we are trying to keep the old traditions alive. More specifically, in our case, the tradition of silent film. This is an authentic presentation we hope you will enjoy. 

During the intermission between films, be sure to visit “Those Were the Days” radio host Steve Darnall, who will be joining us as a special guest. (Check out the spring issue of his “Nostalgia Digest” for the cover story on Dick Powell!)

Special thanks to Dennis Wolkowicz of the Silent Film Society of Chicago, Dino Vlahakis of the Pickwick Theatre, and Laura Scott of the Park Ridge Public Library. Without their participation this event would not be possible.

The Legends in Our Modern Time by annette bochenek & matthew c. hoffman

Posted in Uncategorized on March 9, 2011 by mchoffman

Forty years ago today Harold Lloyd passed away. Lloyd was more than a name in a cinema history book, more than a man hanging from a clock. As with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, he had a relevance in his day. And he has a relevance now. We still need Harold Lloyd. These particular comics serve a function in our world, but a lot of people don’t know why they are so important. (They wonder because they’ve never actually seen the films.) There’s a misconception floating around out there that the movies in my festival will only attract older crowds and that the films themselves could not possibly have any relevance to today’s generation.

My friend Annette, who narrated the Park Ridge Public Library’s promotional video on “Legends of Laughter,” made some pointed observations which I felt needed to be shared. What makes these remarks so unique is the viewpoint. These words do not come from some established film historian, but from a 21 year old college student. What is so encouraging is that I have met other young people– from other countries even– who share the sentiments that follow…


I’m not sure I could draw any parallels from the modern to the past without insulting the three comedic geniuses… Each one was special in his own right. Chaplin had the deep drama hinting at politics, Keaton had physical talent and expression, and Harold Lloyd portrayed honesty to the point of having you feel what he felt with the giddy, sweet, romantic scenes. They all had a charm about them–except Keaton, who I see as an Everyman, but he didn’t need words since he could emote with his eyes alone. They represented comedy with class.

Nowadays, comedy is too rash and centers around bodily functions, immorality, etc. Comedy is meant to be enjoyed with anyone, but I would find it super awkward to watch some of today’s comedy while sitting with my parents. That’s because it’s not classy, and is more taboo… The three greats, however, could be watched with anyone, even screened outdoors at a park without offending anyone.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of with their work. It was meant in good clean fun, and Chaplin’s especially have messages and meanings that have resonated through various generations. You just can’t tire of his work. You want to see how the florist will react when she finds out a tramp was the cause of her having sight again. You want to see if the kid and the tramp are able to live happily ever after. You want to see if Hannah will find hope in a cruel world. You want to see if someone as small as the tramp can make a difference in the world.

Same with Lloyd–his movies have very similar formulae, but they are so brutally honest and open that you can’t help but be drawn in. You can’t help but relate, and cheer him on. Because everyone has been an underdog, felt odd, out of place, hoping for some higher purpose and meaning when odds are stacked against him or her. His character has an Achilles heel in every movie, and that’s just plain human. I think if people give Lloyd the chance, they can see themselves in him, and can’t help but cheer him on because of it. Everyone wants that happy ending, and it’s that much better when it’s wholesome and realistic. Because it becomes possible, and something to be proud of.

I think comedic innocence has held up in romantic comedies pretty well. Maybe something Sandra Bullock, Mandy Moore, Meg Ryan… Usually the same formulae. I can’t think of many men off the top of my head, though. Nothing that screams straight up comedy in the three greats’ tradition. Maybe Mel Brooks. Another huge medium of comedy–or what seems to be intelligent comedy nowadays–is satire, which could have had roots in Chaplin’s dictator. Political satires especially.

Even so, I can’t bring myself to really compare modern actors to the three. The only slapstick and wholesome comedy I can think of outside of the rom-com exists in live theatre. Most productions that I think of are revivals, though.

Unfortunately, the entertainment of the time period reflects upon the culture, and I just can’t find a comparison. Not unless you interview someone and they directly mention the greats as their inspiration. I think that’s why I enjoy television biopics so much–modern actors reliving and representing past greats to a new audience. There are so many! Ones on Garland, Gleason, Chaplin, the Stooges, Lucille Ball, even Gilda Radner… But I can’t think of anything hugely original. At this point, I can only guarantee that tributes to the actual actors will leave you with less chances at disappointment.

A Letter from Buster Keaton’s Granddaughter:

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2011 by mchoffman


When I was growing up in the 50s and 60s we were very excited to get a television set and occasionally I saw my grandfather on Candid Camera or What’s My Line? I knew he was a famous star from the silent film era but I was twelve and didn’t know what silent films were.  I just knew we went over to Grandpa Buster’s on the weekends for a BBQ and swim and I’d be allowed to collect the eggs from the chicken house.  I had three brothers and we played cards with Grandpa, grabbed fresh corn from the neighboring field for Eleanor for dinner and took turns sliding down the second story of the barn on ropes.  When we were older he would come over and throw out the first pitch at our Little League games and we would still be going over to Grandpa’s for Sunday dinner.

When I was in my early twenties some of the silent films were being restored and my mother gave a copy of The Blacksmith to me along with a super eight millimeter projector.  This was the first time I had ever seen a silent film and it was with my grandpa Buster as a young man.  I watched it over and over again with a new appreciation for my heritage.  Within a few years I attended one of the first Silent Film Festivals in Berkeley Ca which featured Grandpa in Steamboat Bill Junior.  I came out of the theatre absolutely stunned that this wonderfully talented actor and director was the grandfather I had known for so many years.  It was a revelation. I am so pleased that Silent Film Festivals are gaining in popularity and more people are learning about these timeless classics.  I travel to as many events as possible to promote my grandfather’s name and spread the word.

Grandpa Buster made people laugh in Vaudeville in the early 1900s with his family’s comedy act.  In the 20s and 30s he made people laugh with his movies.  In the late 40s and 50s he traveled in Europe and the US doing comedy and guest star routines and made people laugh.  He had audiences laughing in the 60s with television and movies productions.  A year before he died in 1966 he made a delightful film in Canada which had everyone who saw it laughing.  From the 1970s until today the priceless treasures of the silent film era are being restored and shown around the world and still, audiences are laughing.  My grandfather had a 67 year career that ended 45 year ago and he is still bringing laughter into the lives of people of all ages and nationalities and I cannot think of a more wonderful legacy to leave the world.

Melissa Cox

A Letter from Harold Lloyd’s Granddaughter:

Posted in Uncategorized on March 2, 2011 by mchoffman


NOTE: Harold Lloyd’s granddaughter, Suzanne Lloyd, has been the torch bearer of Harold’s legacy. She came close to joining us in person for our “Legends of Laughter” film series. Suzanne originally had been asked to appear at a Chicagoland university that was planning a Harold Lloyd retrospective of their own in the spring. However, when the school cancelled their event, we lost our chance for a special guest. (Alas, the Park Ridge Public Library isn’t in a position to fly in any guests.) Nevertheless, Suzanne kindly sent us a special introduction to our series. We are grateful for her contribution. The following is the complete text.

*            *            *            *            *            *            *            *

Legends of Laughter Intro

My grandfather Harold Lloyd was one of the great comic stars of the cinema, a genius on a par with Chaplin and Keaton. However, he came from a humble background, and perhaps this was the key to his affinity with “the ordinary man” who does extraordinary things. Audiences of today can relate to this as well as audiences did almost a century ago.

In a film career that spanned 34 years, Harold made over 200 comedies, including 11 silent and 5 sound features, 2 compilations, and 58 shorts. My grandfather was famous for doing his own very dangerous stunts, but few people know that the man behind the glasses was also a prolific producer, director, 3-D photographer, businessman, and philanthropist.

Film series like “Legends of Laughter” at the Park Ridge Public Library help audiences discover (and re-discover) the magic of Harold’s films, and it is so very important that we keep the spirit of the foundations of cinema alive. Thank you to everyone who is a fan – I know Harold would be SO pleased that his work is still making us laugh today.

Sue Lloyd