Mildred Davis: Harold Lloyd’s Leading Lady

midedit

Tribute today to Mildred Davis (1901-1969). She is best known for having been Harold Lloyd’s leading lady from 1919 to 1923, after which point she is best known for being Harold Lloyd’s wife. But Davis had a career before and after Lloyd. She moved from her native Philadelphia to Los Angeles when still a teenager in order to act for films. Her first role in the short Marriage a la Mode was in 1916. The following year she was at the top of the bill in What’ll We Do With Uncle?, written by King Vidor and directed by William Beaudine. Hal Roach hired her in 1919, first casting her in several Snub Pollard shorts, before transferring her over to Lloyd as a replacement for Bebe Daniels.

Davis was with with Lloyd during his creative adolescence, a crucial period in his work. She is thus with him in his longest and most elaborate shorts, such as High and Dizzy, Never Weaken and A Sailor Made Man and his earliest features Grandma’s Boy, Dr. Jack and Safety Last. Contrary to commonly held belief, she did a couple of other features with other people immediately after breaking artistically with Lloyd, and she came out of retirement twice, in 1927 and 1949. But most of her last four and a half decades was spent as the hostess of Lloyd’s palatial Hollywood estate Greenacres.

Mildred’s little brother Jack Davis was among those recruited to compose the original cast of Our Gang comedies in 1921.

For more on silent comedy don’t miss my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc

 

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