Harry Langdon: King of Silent Comedy

Harry Langdon: King of Silent Comedy


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Harry Langdon: King of Silent Comedy by Gabriella Oldham, Mabel Langdon

Among silent film comedians, three names stand out — Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd — but Harry Langdon indisputably deserves to sit among them as the fourth "king." In films such as The Strong Man (1926) and Long Pants (1927) , Langdon parlayed his pantomime talents, expressive eyes, and childlike innocence into silent-era stardom. This in-depth biography, which features behind-the-scenes accounts and personal recollections compiled by Langdon's late wife, provides a full and thoughtful picture of this multifaceted entertainer and his meteoric rise and fall.

Authors Gabriella Oldham and Mabel Langdon explore how the actor developed and honed his comedic skills in amateur shows, medicine shows, and vaudeville. Together they survey his early work on the stage at the turn of the twentieth century as well as his iconic routines and characters. They also evaluate his failures from the early sound period, including his decision to part ways with director Frank Capra. Despite his dwindling popularity following the introduction of talkies, Langdon persevered and continued to perform in theater, radio, and film — literally until his dying day — leaving behind a unique and brilliant body of work.

Featuring never-before-published stories and photos from his immediate family, this biography is a fascinating and revealing look at an unsung silent film giant.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813169651
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 04/05/2017
Series: Screen Classics Series
Pages: 358
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Gabriella Oldham is the author of First Cut: Conversations with Film Editors and First Cut 2: More Conversations with Film Editors. Her love of silent comedy inspired Keaton's Silent Shorts: Beyond the Laughter and a forthcoming book on silent film comediennes. Most recently, she published John Cassavetes: Interviews. She is also an educator and a writing coach.

Mabel Langdon (1906—2001) was the wife of Harry Langdon. She promoted his legacy through international appearances at film retrospectives and in interviews.

Table of Contents

Foreword Harry Langdors Jr. vii

Introduction 1

1 Vaudeville Roots 7

2 Golden Silence 40

3 Elusive Stardom 152

4 The Stronger Man 197

5 Legacy 277

Acknowledgments 295

Filmography 297

Notes 307

Selected Bibliography 331

Index 335

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