(This post originally ran more than three years ago. Since then, a lot has happened - The Glass Character finally saw print! - and a lot didn't. It is of some benefit to realize there was a time, ONLY three years ago, when I didn't think I'd connect with RC at all. I have his phone number in LA now, which would've seemed like a miracle then. So something must have happened in the interim. But I have no idea if he has read my book, if he even received it. By the way, back in 2011, I could not find a single up-to-date photo of Rich Correll, so had to use these grainy shots from when he was a child actor. I kept them simply because I like them.)
Then I touched one, though I know not when. There was no internet then, just a Tandy computer I lovingly called Jessica, a daisy wheel printer, and a fax machine. I don't remember my first foray into the internet, or even what it was called then. The Information Highway, I think, and if you tried to use it, some techie guy would brand you a "newbie".
For a long time I was afraid of it and was sure I'd never use it and that it would be daunting and impossible to use and I would feel bloody stupid if I even tried. My kids were printing stuff out on long rolls that you tore off like chunks of toilet paper, with a sort of perforated border with holes in it on the sides. They printed out arcane secret information about the X Files and stuff like that. It was interesting, yes, but intimidating, something for the young.
I still don't really know how to use it, because there are no instructions. You're just supposed to know. Once more I have that queasy feeling I got to the party late, too late to ever catch up. But I didn't do it to "network". I did it to find one person.
This person, rare as an exotic deer or a species no one has ever seen before, is so elusive I can't find an updated image of him. These pictures are from his child star days, when he had an ongoing role on Leave it to Beaver. There would appear to be no reliable information for contacting him, just a few wretchedly inappropriate mailing addresses, though the Lord only knows I've tried.
The two-and-a-half people who follow this blog might know that I kvetch a lot about the fact that I've written a novel about Harold Lloyd, the silent film genius, and so far can't get anyone in Canada interested in publishing it. People all over the place are telling me to self-publish, and I don't see how that would work if you had to book your own tours, readings, etc., do all your own distribution and promotion, get it in all the stores and on the net, pay for your own ads, etc. etc. and not go bankrupt.
SOOOOOO, to get to the actual point of all this, I'm searching for Rich Correll, the Hollywood polymath who co-invented the character/global phenomenon Hannah Montana and who has been directing hit Disney programs (the kind Caitlin slavishly watches) for years. He has done, and is doing, tons of other stuff in the industry as well, but that's not the real reason I'm looking.
I want to find Rich Correll because he was like a second son to Harold Lloyd: he knew Harold Lloyd, he loved Harold Lloyd, and he just strikes me as someone who might actually be willing to help me realize this labour of the heart, or at least to understand why I did it, and why it means so agonizingly much to me.
Or not. Maybe it'll just be the usual best of luck with this I've heard every other time I've made a "contact", which as far as I am concerned means about as much as a Facebook "friend". Hard to say. Maybe he's too busy suing the Disney Corporation for $5 million (and imagine suing Mickey Mouse! This is both quixotic and admirable.) I don't know. I just feel at this point like I need to talk to someone who loves Harold Lloyd as much as I do.
It's funny to be in this position now. Everyone seems to be saying, "Accept less." Or even "give it up, it'll never happen". I know I can do this, I know I will do this, but I'm lost in a labyrinth. For this reason, to try to find Rich Correll whom I've been tracking like a bloodhound for months, I joined Facebook and found myself, once again, a stranger in a strange land.
I guess I haven't learned Facebook etiquette, its invisible set of rules. When I post comments that are serious, especially about my work, I am usually made to feel like an opportunist who should just shut up and go away. Which I'm supposed to. And which I can't. Not this time.
He figured large in the brilliant Kevin Brownlow documentary The Third Genius, a rich dense Christmas pudding of a film just chock-a-block with archival interviews, people who knew Harold "when". This was one of those times he mysteriously got younger, and the reminiscences flowed so easily it was probably one of those things where you could just turn the camera on.
Rich Correll also appeared on the bonus disc in the superb Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection DVD set. At one point, after all the reminiscences, suddenly there was pure magic, more magic than Harold ever pulled off in his entire life as a master conjurer. He brought out a battered old suitcase full of treasures: Harold Lloyd's makeup kit, full of artifacts going back to the early 1900s. Old gloves (Harold needed a prosthetic glove because half his right hand had been blown off in an accident), tubes of greasepaint, a mirror with his name lettered on it. And pairs and pairs of horn-rimmed glasses. Harold Lloyd's glasses. Though Harold referred to his alter ego as the Glass Character, these were empty frames with no glass in them.
This is why I want to talk to Rich Correll. Harold Lloyd bequeathed this battered old case of magic to him. He has it in his possession. If Harold's spirit is anywhere, it's there, and Rich Correll holds it in his hands.
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