Ted Wilde: Maker of Many Harold Lloyd Classics

Thanks, Steve Massa, for this photo. According to Steve, Wilde is the chap in the undershirt, pointing. Camera man Walter Lundin is beside him.

Born this day in 1889, Ted Wilde, who was not at all a minor figure in silent comedy, but one who died young, preventing him from growing and cementing his reputation among later generations. Wilde started out as a scenario and gag writer for Harold Lloyd in 1923, working in that capacity on Why Worry? (1923), Girl Shy (1924), The Freshman (1925), and For Heaven’s Sake (1926). At the same time, he got his beak wet on the Roach lot as a director, helming the Glenn Tryon comedies Battling Orioles (1924), The Goofy Age (1924), The Haunted Honeymoon (1925), and A Sailor Papa (1925).

Then — the pinnacle. He got to direct Lloyd himself. He co-wrote and directed The Kid Brother (1927). He also directed Speedy (1928), as well as a kind of side project featuring one of Speedy‘s stars the Bambino himself Babe Ruth, a comedy short called Babe Comes Home (1927). He also began directing Lloyd’s next film Welcome Danger (1929), but illness laid him up and he was replaced.

Wilde recovered long enough to direct two talkies: Loose Ankles, with Loretta Young, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Louise Fazenda, and Daphne Pollard; and Clancy in Wall Street with Charles Murray. Sadly, both were released posthumously in 1930. Wilde had died of a stroke (or a heart attack, I have seen both causes in different accounts) in late 1929.

For more on silent and slapstick comedy, including many of these Ted Wilde comedies, please see my book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube,