Silent film star Harold Lloyd has 213 acting credits, which is more than both Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.
The Burchard native is most famously known for dangling from a clock several stories in the air in the film "Safety Last!"
The Gage County Historical Society's Gage County Classic Film Institute will present a tribute to Lloyd on March 1-3 as its 2019 annual film event. The focus will be on Lloyd’s childhood in Beatrice and Burchard.
Lloyd and his older brother spent a lot of time in Beatrice. They would work for the circus when it came to town in order to get a pass inside. Lloyd got his first acting appearance in "Macbeth" with the Shakespeare Repertory Company. He sold popcorn at the three train depots and taverns to make money to buy school clothes.
The Lloyd family moved many times, living in many Nebraska towns including Pawnee City, Humboldt and Omaha. After Nebraska, they stayed a couple places in Colorado before his father and Harold moved to California in 1913. From then on, Lloyd worked his way up in the entertainment business. In addition to acting, he directed, wrote and produced several films.
In an interview on Social Security in Action in 1965, Lloyd discussed how his films were not shot in front of a green screen. Lloyd was actually hanging from a building, clutching the hands of a clock.
“This was actually up just as high as you see it,” Lloyd said. “Of course, I wasn’t crazy enough to get out there and commit suicide, so I had platforms built a long ways below me. Probably about 16 feet or something like that below, so that the camera could shoot down. But there was no railings around. We piled mattresses on it, and if you lit you had to light flat. You could bounce off of it, and then there wouldn’t be much need for the platforms. These pictures had a great impact.
“I would say out of maybe 300 pictures that I made, only five of them were up on the sides of buildings,” Lloyd said. “But the impact, evidently, was so strong, I’m almost remembered as a thrill comedian.”
Gayle Butler, a Historical Society member, said the Historical Society has been trying to highlight different people from the Beatrice area that have made it big in movies.
“There was quite a group that went to California back in the 40s and 50s and made it big," Butler said. "So we wanted to educate people in this area and the surrounding areas about people that have made it, and what it took for them to make it out in California."
They have previously held events for actor Robert Taylor, cinematographer John Fulton who worked on 1956s "The Ten Commandments," and Gene L. Coon, a writer for the original "Star Trek."
The Gage County Classic Film Institute is partnering with the Beatrice Public Library and the Beatrice Community Players Theatre. The library will feature a special exhibit about Lloyd during February and March.
On Friday, March 1 at 6 p.m., the Beatrice Public Library will have reception and a meet and greet with the featured guests, followed by a presentation and book/DVD signing.
On Saturday, March 2 at 8 a.m., a car caravan will drive 50 people to Burchard to tour the Harold Lloyd Home. Guests are also welcome to visit the Welsh Heritage Centre in Wymore, which is open 9–11 a.m.
A Q&A session, moderated by Omaha film historian Bruce Crawford, will be at 12 p.m. at Valentino’s Primavera Room, 701 E. Court St.
At 1:30 p.m. in the Beatrice Community Players Theatre, Beatrice librarian Laureen Riedesel will discuss Lloyd’s history in the community, featured guest Scott Eyman will discuss Lloyd’s contributions to silent films and local film historian Jeanelle Kleveland will discuss “The Kid Brother.”
Another meet and greet followed by a screening of “Professor Beware” will be hosted at the Beatrice Public Library at 7 p.m.
On Sunday, March 3 at 1:30p.m., the Beatrice Public Library will have a screening of “Mad Wednesday" followed by Riedesel discussing the film.
“Mad Wednesday” is a 1950 re-cut, shorter version of the film “The Sin of Harold Diddlebock," which was released in 1947. It was also Lloyd’s last acting credit.
All events at the Beatrice Public Library are free. Tickets are needed for Saturday March 2 morning and afternoon sessions.
Featured guests will be author Scott Eyman and silent film composer and accompanist Ben Model. Lloyd’s granddaughter, Suzanne Lloyd Hayes, is providing films, shorts, home movies and photos from Harold Lloyd’s 1949 visit to Beatrice.
This year’s event is also presented in conjunction with The Harold Lloyd Museum in Burchard, part of the Pawnee County Promotional Network, and the Welsh Heritage Centre in Wymore. Funding provided by grants from Hevelone Foundation and Gage County Foundation.
Tickets are $35 for adults, and $10 for children age 12 and under.
Tickets can be purchased by credit card or check at the Gage County Museum, online by credit card at www.eventbrite.com (children tickets not available) or by check through a mail-in registration form, available on www.facebook.com/GageCountyFilm.
Questions about the event can be directed through email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-540-2579.