Born Harold Clayton Lloyd in 1893 to James and Sarah Lloyd, the family moved west on a coin flip. Harold began working in one reel comedies in 1912, where he first met a very enterprising young actor and eventual producer; Hal Roach.
Lloyd worked for Roach who started his studio in 1913. He quickly gained a reputation as a hard worker.
Early in Harold's career he created 'Lonesome Luke', a character that echoed Chaplin. It was in 1918 that Lloyd developed the characterization for which he is known today.
The 'Glasses Character' gave Harold a look much different than his contemporaries. He looked like an ordinary guy who got involved in extraordinary circumstances.
Tragically, in 1919 Harold lost his thumb and index finger to a prop bomb that exploded. Lloyd recounted the episode years later by saying that by turning his head to tell the photographer the fuse on the bomb had gone out is what saved his life. He was about to say "It's no good", when the bomb exploded blowing a hole in the ceiling. Harold worked with a specially made prosthetic glove on his right hand.
Fearing his career over, he pondered being strictly a director. He did recover and went on to produce the best work of his career.
Harold had a tremendous output of top quality productions in the 1920's. Lloyd benefited with upwards of twelve gag writers who were paid handsomely. Harold's movies made money and a lot of that money went into the look of the total production.
Harold Lloyd produced consistently great movies in the 1920's, "Safety Last", "The Freshman" and "The Kid Brother" are just some of these great features.
To most people, Harold Lloyd is known for his iconic image hanging from a clock. He is thought of as a thrill artist comedian and that is so unfortunate. Harold did only a handful of thrill comedies and the best of his work does not rely on it.
According to Hal Roach, "Harold Lloyd was not a comedian, but he was the finest actor to play a comedian that I ever saw".
Lloyd was able to sustain a career into the talkies, but never approached the greatest of his silents.
Thanks to a recent DVD boxset Harold Lloyd has gotten more exposure and has proven popular with modern audiences. He has had a resurgence that is more than appropriate.
Critical appreciation of Lloyd started with the brilliant documentary, "Harold Lloyd, The Third Genius", which showcased Harold for the great career he had.
Lloyd gets more appreciation each year and has become in the minds of silent comedy fans worthy to stand alongside Chaplin and Keaton.