Harold Lloyd was a comedian who bumbled through more than 300 films as a bespectacled victim of life’s difficulties. A pair of lens-less spectacles that cost 75 cents helped Lloyd win movie stardom and a fortune.
The pseudo horn-rimmed spectacles became his trademark and his usual role of a young and earnest man involved in improbable situations was familiar to millions around the world.
In "Safety Last" (1923), he played a timid store clerk turned "human fly" who was required to climb a 12-story building. The script called for him to clutch a clock hand at a dizzying height while a mouse ran up his leg.
His films grossed more than $35 million around the world in the 1920s and 1930s and brought in more millions in reissued releases. Other films he is remembered for are "The Freshman" (1925), "For Heaven's Sake" (1926) and "Speedy" (1928).
Lloyd’s first screen role was that of an Indian — a $3-a-day job as an extra in the winter of 1912-1913. He worked as an extra at Universal Studio and later joined Hal Roach as a comedian. In his first pictures, he was Lonesome Luke, an oddly dressed character with a black- and white-striped shirt and a double dab of moustache. The comedian later formed his own company, and the firm’s first picture, "Girl Shy" (1924), grossed nearly $2 million.
In 1952 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored Lloyd as a "master comedian and good citizen."
Reputed to be one of Hollywood’s wealthiest stars, Lloyd devoted his "retirement" years to fraternal orders, sports and hobbies — activities upon which he expended as much time and energy as he did on his film career. His wife, the former actress Mildred Davis who once played his leading lady, died in August 1969.
Ill-fortune entered Lloyd’s life about 18 months before his death. A kidney ailment was finally diagnosed as cancer and on March 8, 1971, he died in his Beverly Hills home.