The filmmaking life of Harold Lloyd, in stills

Though he played the bespectacled, innocent boy next door in about 200 romantic comedy shorts and feature-length films in a career that stretched from 1913 to 1947, Harold Lloyd off-screen was a clear-eyed businessman who started producing his own films in 1923 and was involved in all aspects of production, from script to editing.

Lloyd, who died in 1971 at age 77, also was vigilant in keeping records of his lengthy film career, amassing stills, negatives, key books, newspaper clippings, fan mail and telegrams from his wife and frequent co-star, Mildred Davis.


FOR THE RECORD:
Harold Lloyd: The Cine File column about filmmaker Harold Lloyd in Sunday's Calendar section misspelled the name of his personal photographer, Gene Kornman, as Gene Corman. —


"Western Union must have loved him, and he loved Western Union," says his granddaughter, Suzanne Lloyd, who has been the keeper of his flame for the last three decades. "My grandmother would send him wires all the time, wherever he was. He saved the wires she sent him, and he saved the wires he sent her. We have stacks of those."

About four years ago, Lloyd donated her grandfather's archive to the Margaret Herrick Library at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — the largest donation from a private individual. Recently, academy photo curator Robert Cushman combed through the collection.

"It's probably more than 3,000 negatives and an equal number of photographs," Cushman says. He, Lloyd and programmer Ellen Harrington selected 100 images for the exhibition, "Out on a Ledge: Photographs of a Comic Genius, From the Harold Lloyd Collection" now in the academy's Grand Lobby Gallery.

The exhibit, says Harrington, is a photographic narrative of not only Harold Lloyd's "screen performances but his off-camera moments because he was so involved as a producer and architect of his films. He was heavily involved with his own production company."

Photographs of Lloyd as a young boy and in his first movie persona, Lonesome Luke — "he was copying Chaplin, but he didn't like it," says Suzanne Lloyd — line the western wall of the lobby. There's also the first portrait of Harold Lloyd as the "glasses" character, shot in 1917, when he was 24.

The walls and columns of the rest of the lobby are lined with publicity photographs and candid shots of Lloyd on sets, including one in which he's relaxing shirtless between scenes and another that has him smiling with Babe Ruth, who appeared in Lloyd's 1928 classic "Speedy." Suzanne Lloyd is particularly fond of a photograph of the comic with his editor because it shows him involved in the film's post-production.

Because Lloyd shot his films in and around Los Angeles, especially downtown in the case of "Safety Last," the exhibition offers a glimpse at what Hollywood and its environs looked like 80-some years ago.

Though photographers are not identified, Suzanne Lloyd says Gene Corman, her grandfather's personal photographer, shot the vast majority of them.

And because most of the photographs in the exhibition were printed from nitrate negatives, the clarity is remarkable. They look like they could have been shot yesterday. "They were in great condition," Cushman says.

susan.king@latimes.com

'Out on a Ledge'

Where: Grand Lobby Gallery, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly HIlls

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; noon to 6 p.m. weekends

Ends: Dec. 17

Price: Free

Contact: (310) 247-3600 or go to www.oscars.org

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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