Harry Langdon (1884-1944)

Born in Council Bluffs, Iowa on June 15th, 1884 silent film comedian Harry Langdon ran away from home at the age of twelve to join a traveling medicine show. He had a long term success in vaudeville with a running act called “Johnny’s New Car” which he performed for twenty years on stage. Harry also performed in circuses, minstrel shows, and burlesque. In 1924 he signed with Mack Sennett’s Keystone Studios, making his film debut in a comedy called “Picking Peaches”. It was at Keystone that he had his primary success as a film comedian. Although Harry’s humor was not the typical slapstick style that Sennett featured in his other films, he sensed that Harry had a unique talent all his own, and he assigned top writers and directors to work with him, including the writer Arthur Ripley, and the young directors Harry Edwards and Frank Capra. They developed Harry’s innocent Man Child with the powdered face and the big staring eyes into a huge success at the box office. Most of the laughs were obtained through creating scenarios which featured Harry’s character in helpless or dangerous situations, while he tried desperately to save himself through pathetic, childlike means. For example, Harry’s trying to stop a tornado by throwing pebbles at it in “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp” (1926), or Harry rubbing his chest with what he thinks is camphor, but which is really Limberger cheese, as he rides on a bus in “The Strong Man” (1926). The public responded favorably and Harry enjoyed a few productive years of artistic and commercial successes to rival those of his contemporaries Chaplin, Lloyd, and Keaton. However Harry’s success was not to last long. He left Keystone for First National and at first things seemed to be going well for him; he was making $7,500 a week and life looked rosy. However Harry began to insist on having more control over his features, directing them himself instead of relying on his previous expert team for character and scenario construction. He could not sustain his previous success and the public quickly lost interest in him. Personal problems in his marriages (he was married four times, divorced three times, and had a son and daughter with wife number three), financial problems, and the coming of sound all combined to speed his demise. Through the 1930’s and early 1940’s Harry made a series of inexpensive two-reel comedies for various studios. He was still working on these films when he died from a stroke on December 22nd, 1944 in Los Angeles.

~ Copyright © 2004 www.goldensilents.com

Harry Langdon’s Silent Films

Heart Trouble (1928/I) …. Harry Van Housen
Chaser, The (1928) …. Husband
Three’s a Crowd (1927) …. The Odd Fellow
His First Flame (1927) …. Harry Howells

Long Pants - Harry Langdon

Long Pants (1927) …. Harry Shelby
Strong Man, The (1926) …. Paul Bergot
Ella Cinders (1926) …. Cameo
Soldier Man (1926)
Fiddlesticks (1926) …. Harry Hogan
Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (1926) …. Harry
Saturday Afternoon (1926) …. Harry Higgins
There He Goes (1925)
Lucky Stars (1925)
White Wing’s Bride, The (1925)

Mack Sennett and Harry Langdon on the set of “Flickering Youth” (1924)

Horace Greeley, Jr. (1925)
Remember When? (1925) …. Harry Hudson
Plain Clothes (1925)
His Marriage Wow (1925) …. Harold Hope
Boobs in the Wood (1925)
… aka Boobs in the Woods (1925) (USA)
Sea Squawk, The (1925)
Feet of Mud (1924)
All Night Long (1924) …. The Boy (Harry Hall)
Hansom Cabman, The (1924)
… aka Be Careful (1924)
Luck of the Foolish, The (1924)
First 100 Years, The (1924) …. Harry
His New Mamma (1924)
Cat’s Meow, The (1924)
Flickering Youth (1924)
Scarem Much (1924) (uncredited) …. Extra
Shanghaied Lovers (1924)
Smile Please (1924)
Picking Peaches (1924)

To learn more about Harry Langdon visit his profile on The Internet Movie Database

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.