Wallace Reid was a film star whose death at the height of his stardom shocked Hollywood. Gaining fame from his work in "silents," the legendary star had a life and career that was far from quiet. Known as a dashing heartthrob who seduced audiences with adventures, grand romantic gestures, and humor Reid became the most famous of Lasky's Famous Players, and was the epitome of daring and playfulness.
"Life, action, motion. Everything was always too small for Wally. ... he seemed to burst out of them all," his wife, Dorothy Davenport Reid, wrote in The Times following his untimely death from drug addiction in 1923 "... the sound of his laughing voice and every nook and corner looks blank for want of his boyish head."
As Reid laid dying, his wife held his boyish head in her hands. "Tell them, mamma, I have won my fight," she said he told her "... that I have come back." He passed away shortly thereafter.
Always wanting to be the conqueror, Reid had a passion for the fast life, which included driving fast cars. This made Reid a natural when he was cast as Toodles Walden in "The Roaring Road" (1919), his breakout role. The formula worked, launching more daredevil fun and romance on the road, seen when he starred as Speed Carr in "Double Speed" (1920), as Toodles Walton in "Excuse My Dust" (1920), and as 'Dusty' Rhoades in "What's Your Hurry" (1920) and "Too Much Speed" (1921), among others. Reid starred in over 60 films on the Lasky lot.
Reid showed zeal for the film industry early on. He loved theater and writing as a boy. Cast in "The Phoenix," his first film in 1910, he was on his way, working in many silents for Universal, then later for Paramount. In 1915 he worked on D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation," starring Lillian Gish, then "Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages," starring Mae Marsh, the following year. Numerous roles followed.
Reid's talents included writing, directing and cinematographer. He worked constantly, appearing in or working on, over 150 films and projects.