Harry Myers: The Drunk in “City Lights”

Harry Myers is best remembered today for his last silent role, the drunken millionaire in Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights (1931). The Connecticut born Myers had been an actor for 30 years by that point; he’d made scores of films since 1908. He worked for Lubin Studios starting in 1909. From 1915 through 1917 he self-directed over 50 comedy shorts for various studios co-starring himself and his wife Rosemary Theby. These were probably what first put him on Chaplin’s radar as a comic actor. Some of his best known films in the ’20s included 45 Minutes from Broadway (1920), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1921), The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1922), The Beautiful and the Damned (1922), Main Street (1923), Little Johnny Jones (1923), Up in Mabel’s Room (1926), Exit Smiling (1926), and Getting Gertie’s Garter (1927).

In the sound era, Myers was mostly a bit player and extra, working in dozens more films through his death in 1938. But many of them were classic comedies. Some of the movies he had bit roles in include Allez-Oop (1934) with Buster Keaton, Mississippi (1935) with W.C. Fields and Bing Crosby, The Milky Way (1936) with Harold Lloyd, A Day at the Races (1937) with the Marx Brothers, Block-Heads (1938) with Laurel and Hardy, and Zenobia (1939) with Oliver Hardy and Harry Langdon.

For more on early silent and slapstick film comedy, please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.