Monday, January 13, 2014

A Harold Lloyd Mystery: SOLVED!

While waiting for my literary ship to come in (and based on past experience, that could take a long time, i. e.the next lifetime maybe,) I like to make Facebook covers featuring my hero, the Glass Character of the silent screen, Harold Lloyd.

In my incessant bloodhound search for new material, I recently turned up this caricature, at first completely unknown to me. But the answer was in there somewhere. It looked like one-o-dem things they used to hang on restaurant walls during the 1930s, sketches of famous people who used to sit in dem-dar booths. 

Turns out it was. It was drawn by a man named Vitch, a nickname based on the last 5 letters of an unpronouncable name. He frequented the legendary Brown Derby restaurant, the place where Hollywood types flocked after a long day's shoot, and drew (for tips, presumably) caricatures of celebrities. Based on this one, he was pretty good, because in a few deft lines he got a very convincing likeness of Harold.

The legend is that he did these clever, quick sketches on the spot. Perhaps it started out that way. But note the similarity between the photo (one of Harold's stock head shots which he autographed for fans and friends) and the caricature. One could easily have been based on the other. You have to tilt the hat just a little, but the jaw line, the glasses, the position of the nose and mouth are identical. Though the chin is only half drawn in, you get the idea of it. The sideburns are definitely the same. The shadowy right side of the face is also shadowy in the photo. In fact, the whole face and head are in such an identical position that the caricature almost looks like it could have been traced from the photo.

Clearly, this was not done from life. That would give the artist a lot longer to work on making it look effortless. He could also throw away all the attempts that didn't work out.

I hope he got a good tip for this one. But not too good.