Close-Ups in Celluloid: Film Celebrities Studied at Short Range Under the Kleig Lights

Harold Lloyd: He Made Horn-Rimmed Goggles Famous in the Movies – They’re Now His Trade-Mark

A comedian is a merchant with a bag of tricks. He has to supply his customers with something they can’t get any other place, or they’ll stop patronizing him. What he offers must be unique, if he wishes to appeal to large numbers. And his product must be protected by a registered symbol to distinguish his goods from another’s. In other words, he must have a trade-mark. Every comedian, since the inception of motion pictures, has affected some idiosyncracy. Ford Sterling wore a chin-piece and square glasses. Charlie Chaplin, the little mustache, baggy trousers and cane. Chester Conklin, the walrus mustache. All down the line, most of the comedians did the trick with mustaches. When Harold Lloyd first entered pictures, fourteen years ago, he tried the two-dot mustache under his nose, but it left him limp; no punch to it. After that he affected the padded, square shoulders, but they were too cumbersome to enable him to do any stunts. He wanted something different, something arresting. It was then he hit upon horn-rimmed spectacles (at that time so conspicuously popular among "intellectuals"), now his universally recognized trade-mark.

"I had no fancy tricks to offer, no inimitable twists like Charlie, and I felt that the horn-rimmed goggles (you can put your fingers clear through them), would permit me to play a variety of roles, ranging from the college boy to the clergyman and all the way down to a ‘boob.’ Besides, my humor differs from most of the comedians in that I require situations rather than mechanisms for my clownerie," Mr. Lloyd explained.

"You see," he continued, "I’m just a type who might be mistaken for that girl’s brother, or the other woman’s son, or the next man’s cousin. The proof of this is that I’m always getting letters from men in various parts of the United States who write that someone said they resemble me, and that they’ve even been mistaken for me.

"I knew that I had to brand myself with something, and since I was to represent a fellow that exists, a type rather than an individual, a rarity or freak, I hit upon the horn-rimmed glasses because they command attention."

There is much more behind his choice than even Harold Lloyd himself knows. Each one of us harbors a secret wish or thought to be something or other rather than what we are. Some of us would like to be Indians, or Egyptians, or artists, or lawyers, or actors; and some of us would dearly love to be thought "intellectual." Harold Lloyd remarked, while speaking of his trip to New York from the Coast, that he had met four business men and a clergyman on the train. The clergyman was very interesting! He was able to converse on every subject, and practically carried the entire conversation from early evening until 2 A.M., "while I was a very willing and, I must admit, destined listener," he added, with the frankness of a boy still in knickers. "That’s my secret wish. I hope some day to be able, through intensive reading , to converse intelligently on every subject; I want to know things." Hail the horn-rimmed spectacles, popular conception of the student stamp!

Harold Lloyd’s just a wholesome "big brother," who likes games and hand-ball, chess, tennis, bridge and horseback riding (when he has his own horse, one that doesn’t conflict with his posture on the following day). "Oh, I get an awful lot of fun out of anything at all that has a contest attached to it," said this kid of thirty-three.

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