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Harold and Mode

by Eyal de Leeuw | 21.09.13

Harold Lloyd’s “Safety, Last!” screened today at Haifa Film Festival (the next screening is next Saturday), a good excuse to talk again about the star who popularized eyeglasses in America.

Images from http://fyeah-haroldlloyd.tumblr.com/

Images from http://fyeah-haroldlloyd.tumblr.com/

Harold Lloyd ranks alongside Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as one of the most popular and influential film comedians of the silent film era. He made nearly 200 comedy films with his “Glasses Character,” a screen persona of a normally-dressed, everyday-appearing youth, promoting the use of glasses, especially horn-rimmed ones.

Images from http://fyeah-haroldlloyd.tumblr.com/

Images from http://fyeah-haroldlloyd.tumblr.com/

“When I came to choose a pair of my own, the vogue of horn-rims was new, and it was youth, principally, that was adopting them. The novelty was a picture asset, and the suggestion of youth fit perfectly with the character I had in mind”, he said.

Harold Lloyd and future wife: Mildred Davis in "I Do" in 1921.

Harold Lloyd and future wife: Mildred Davis in “I Do” in 1921.

The frames were lensless, and were not really tortoise shell, but plastic. And he inspired a horn-rim frenzy. “Harold understood another unique-to-him, positive aspect of on-screen eyeglasses”‘ argues Annette M. D’Agostino (the author of “Harold Lloyd: A Bio-Bibliography”) about Lloys, who wrote, “With them, I am Harold Lloyd; without them, a private citizen. I can stroll unrecognized down any street in the land at any time without the glasses, a boon granted no other picture actor and one which some of them would pay well for.”

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He is best known for his role in “Safety Last!“, where he’s clinging desperately from the hands of a skyscraper clock, and was the later inspiration for the Clark Kent identity of Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

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