Harry LangdonKing of Silent Comedy

Harry LangdonKing of Silent Comedy

Gabriella Oldham and Mabel Langdon

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780813169651

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky

Abstract

Harry Langdon (1884–1944) was a silent comedian in the early days of the American film industry. Although he is often compared with other silent comedians of the era, including Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd, Langdon’s career is underappreciated. Following a series of disastrous professional and personal missteps, Langdon faced demotion from his place as a king of silent comedy. The advent of talkies did not bode well for him, as his greatest strengths were rendered irrelevant. He was largely forgotten until audiences in the 1970s became reacquainted with his work nearly three decades after his death. In Harry Langdon: King of Silent Comedy, author Gabriella Oldham claims that Langdon’s catalog of work merits an equal rank alongside his great contemporaries. This biography seeks not only to redeem Langdon’s position in the pantheon of silent comedians but also to accurately portray his life story. The narrative of Langdon’s life explores his early work on the stage at the turn of the twentieth century, his iconic routines and persona in silent films, and his checkered career in the early sound period. This invaluable biography of Langdon relies on film screenings, files, and interviews with those who were closest to him to capture his true genius during the time when comedy was king.