1994 Harold Lloyd
- Honors one of the legendary stars of the Silent Film Era
- Designed by famed caricaturist Al Hirschfeld
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Set: Silent Screen Stars
First Day of Issue: April 27, 1994
First Day City: San Francisco, California
Quantity Issued: 1,860,000
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
Format: Vertical stamps issued se-tenant with nine other silent film stars in four panes of 40 stamps
Why the stamp was issued: Issued as part of the Silent Screen Stars set of 10. Honors the great names of the early days of Hollywood movie-making. Fulfilled the then-current First-Class postage rate.
About the stamp design: The stamp was designed by renowned artist Al Hirschfeld. Art director and typographer was Howard Paine. The artist used the same caricature style as his earlier work on the Comedians se-tenant booklet pane of five. Hirschfeld’s style captures the main characteristics of each actor’s screen persona. The 29c denomination was printed in drop-out type on a stylized torn ticket stub. Red and purple colors add vibrancy to the black and white caricatures.
First Day of Issue Ceremony: The Castro Theater in San Francisco was the site of the First Day Ceremony, with actor Karl Malden as its main speaker.
Unusual fact about this stamp: The artist was asked to work his daughter Nina’s name into his caricatures, as he had often done in previous drawings. In Harold Lloyd’s case, there appears to be no “Nina”.
About the Set: Besides Harold Lloyd, the Silent Screen Stars set includes nine other prominent stars of the Silent Screen era: “The Sheik” Rudolf Valentino, “It Girl” Clara Bow, “The Little Tramp” Charlie Chaplin, “Man of a Thousand Faces” Lon Chaney, “The Vamp” Theda Bara, plus John Gilbert, Zasu Pitts, Keystone Cops, and Buster Keaton. Several of the images include the artist’s familiar “Nina” in honor of his daughter.
History behind the stamp: Film star Harold Clayton Lloyd Sr. was born on April 20, 1893, in Burchard, Nebraska. Lloyd acted in local theaters as a child. In 1910, his parents divorced and he moved with his father to San Diego, California. By 1912, he was acting in one-reel comedy films.
Early on, Lloyd worked with Thomas Edison’s motion picture company, making his first appearance in The Old Monk’s Tale. He moved to Los Angeles when he was 20 and started appearing in several Keystone Film comedies. He also worked as an extra in several Universal Studios movies. Around this time Lloyd befriended filmmaker Hal Roach. Together they created Lloyd’s character “Lonesome Luke.”
A member of Mack Sennett’s comedy troupe, Lloyd experimented with various comic characters before creating the role of “Harold.” He developed his “Glass” character, often named Harold in his silent films, with greater emotional depth than similar characters of the day. Lloyd later recalled, “When I adopted the glasses, it more or less put me in a different category because I became a human being. He was a kid that you would meet next door, across the street, but at the same time I could still do all the crazy things that we did before, but you believed them. They were natural and the romance could be believable.” The character was also never restricted to a single social class, though he was always in search of success and recognition. By 1918, the white-faced man in horn-rimmed glasses and straw hat had become Lloyd’s trademark.
In 1919, while posing for promotional photographs, Lloyd lit what he thought was a prop bomb with his cigarette. It turned out to be a real bomb and it exploded in his hand, causing him to lose a thumb and forefinger. He worried he’d never be able to act again, but it didn’t hinder his career and it gave him an even greater appreciation for life.
In 1921, Lloyd made the transition from shorts to feature-length comedies. He was the first comedian to use physical danger as a source of laughter. He was the screen’s most daring star, often performing his own stunts. In his 1923 film Safety Last, he dangled from the hands of a clock several stories above a busy city street. In Girl Shy (1924) he took a thrilling ride atop a runaway streetcar. And in The Freshman (1925) – one of the most successful of all silent films – he stood in for the football team’s tackling dummy.
Lloyd parted ways with Roach in 1924 and started his own film production company, the Harold Lloyd Film Corporation. His film, Welcome Danger, was released just before the Depression started, but managed to be a massive success, as audiences wanted to hear his voice on film.
Although his peak of popularity was during the silent film era, Lloyd made numerous sound motion pictures as well. However, as the Depression went on, his character decreased in popularity and he wasn’t able to make movies as quickly as before. He closed his studio in 1937 and only worked on a few films in the early 1940s. After that, Lloyd moved to radio, hosting The Old Gold Comedy Theater. He was also involved in civic and charity work as a Freemason and a Shriner. In 1952 he was honored with a special Academy Award for his contribution to motion picture comedy.
Lloyd had copyright control for most of his films and didn’t allow them to be re-released in theaters or shown on television for several years. Then in the 1960s, he produced two compilation films which were widely regarded and stirred new interest in his work.
Over the course of his career, Lloyd made nearly 200 films, including 12 feature films.
The actor received several honors during his career. He was the fourth person to have a ceremony at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, which took place in front of the Masonic Temple of which he was a member. He also got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 and received an Academy Honorary Award.
A close rival of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd was one of the most popular comedians of the silent film era. The beloved entertainer died on March 8, 1971.
About the artist:
Legendary illustrator Albert Hirschfeld was born on June 21, 1903, in St. Louis, Missouri. Hirschfeld’s work was so iconic, the USPS broke their own rules to feature his illustrations on two sets of stamps…
Hirschfeld spent the first 12 years of his life in St. Louis before his family moved to New York City in 1915. There, he attended the National Academy of Design. When he was just 17 years old, he was made art director at Selznick Pictures. He remained there for four years before going to Paris and London to study painting, drawing, and sculpture.
Upon Hirschfeld’s return to the US, his friend, Broadway press agent Richard Maney, showed some of the artist’s drawings to an editor from the New York Herald Tribune. The editor was impressed with Hirschfeld’s work and began offering him commissions for illustrations. Soon, his illustrations were being featured in the Sunday edition of The New York Times, and became a weekly staple for decades.
In 1945, Hirschfeld and his wife, Dolly, had a daughter named Nina. After her birth, the artist hid her name in the hair, clothes, or background of his drawings. Often “Nina” would be hidden in several spots and Hirschfeld would write a number next to his signature to let people know how many to look for.
Hirschfeld became known for his signature style – black and white caricatures with exaggerated features. While he was best known for his black and white drawings, he also produced many full-color paintings for magazine covers such as TV Guide, Life, American Mercury, Look, The New York Times, The New Masses, and Seventeen. Hirschfeld also provided color illustrations for several books, including Harlem As Seen By Hirschfeld, which included text written by William Saroyan.
Hirschfeld specialized in illustrations of Broadway actors, singers, and dancers that were featured in the newspaper shortly before opening night. But he illustrated famous people from all walks of life – politicians, TV stars, movie stars, jazz musicians, rock stars, and more. Hirschfeld illustrated several movie posters for Charlie Chaplin films and The Wizard of Oz. He also provided the artwork for the 1977 Aerosmith album Draw the Line. His work was a major inspiration for the “Rhapsody in Blue” segment of Disney’s Fantasia 2000, and he was a consultant on that project. His work was also reportedly influential on the design of the genie in Disney’s 1992 film, Aladdin.
In 1987, the USPS reached out to Hirschfeld to ask if he’d be interested in illustrating Broadway, Hollywood, vaudeville, radio, and television stars for future stamps. Hirschfeld was excited by the idea and accepted the commission. The Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee sent him several names and they loved all of his illustrations, telling him to “keep them coming.” The USPS was so excited to work with Hirschfeld, they broke some of their own rules. They normally didn’t allow hidden messages on US stamps. But postal officials wanted Hirschfeld to include as many hidden “Nina’s” as he could, because otherwise they wouldn’t be real Hirschfeld caricatures. And while he wasn’t allowed to sign his name on each stamp, they did include his name on the booklet cover, calling the set “Comedians by Hirschfeld.”
Hirschfeld had created dozens of illustrations for the USPS. In 1994, they issued a second set of stamps featuring his work honoring Silent Screen Stars. Once again, he was permitted to include “Nina” in as many areas as he could. On both sets of stamps, there are some easily identifiable “Ninas” and some that are more ambiguous, which Hirschfeld called “near-Ninas.” The USPS marketing for Hirschfeld’s stamps encouraged people to count how many Ninas they could find.
During his lifetime, Al Hirschfeld received two Tony lifetime achievement awards and a National Medal of the Arts. He died on January 20, 2003, and later that year, a Broadway theater was renamed in his honor.