HAM HAMILTON COMEDIES
DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY LLOYD VERNON HAMILTON
FOX FILM CORPORATION
Lloyd Vernon Hamilton was born in California on August 19, 1891 and by 1913 had realized his dream to become an actor by making his film debut for the Lubin Company that year. His first flirting with fame came in the form of playing a character named “Pretzel” in a series entitled Frontier Comedies cranked out by the St. Louis Film Company. Later that year, he would be hired by the Kalem Company and teamed with a diminutive comic named Bud Duncan to act in support of stars Ruth Roland and Marshall Neilan. The two comics became so popular that they were spun-off into their own series of two-reelers (the Ham Comedies), of which more than 100 were made between 1914-17. When Kalem folded in 1917, Lloyd moved on to Fox, appearing in Henry Lehrman’s Sunshine Comedies—and it was here that he began to develop his “everyman” character. While at Fox, he made the acquaintance of a director named Jack White, who convinced Hamilton to strike out on their own in 1920. They formed their own company, with their shorts released by Educational Pictures. As described by film historian Massa: “Best described as a mama’s boy, he was prissy and courtly in a flat, checkered pancake cap, with a swishy duck-waddle walk that became his trademark…as he waddled along in his pancake cap he always seemed to be gently trying to sidestep the cruel fate that was forever nipping at his heels.”
From 1920 to 1928, the Lloyd Hamilton comedies were among the most popular two-reelers released in theaters. Hamilton himself had many characteristics associated with Buster Keaton (a sort of dry, deadpan facial expression) and Charley Chase (Robert Youngson once described Chase’s career on-screen as “one long embarrassing moment”—but the same could apply to Hamilton as well). Were it not for “the cruel fate that was forever nipping at his heels,” Lloyd might very well be considered among the pantheon of silent comedy greats. But several factors conspired against him: first, he was never able to make the leap into silent features like Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd—his two 1924 attempts, His Darker Self (a two-reel version—the only extant evidence of Ham’s feature career, is included on the LNL set) and A Self-Made Failure, did dismal business at the box office....
With special thanks to Elly, for the above biography
Courtesy of Amazon
At first glance, Lloyd Hamilton was simply a large, baby-faced comic who wore a checkered cap and walked like a duck. Beyond the surface, however, Hamilton had much more to offer than an iconic look and persona. In his performances, Hamilton demonstrated keen timing and an inventive mind, providing humor rich in both emotion and self-observation for a career that spanned over 20 years. But perhaps most importantly, Hamilton was greatly admired by his fellow comics as a true 'comedian's comedian' receiving overwhelming praise from no less than Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and other comic greats