You've heard of Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, and Buster Keaton, right?
How about Harold Lloyd?
Every summer I go on a silent movie binge, usually comedy, and usually Chaplin and Keaton. After working through all their films I moved on to Laurel and Hardy this summer. When that supply was exhausted, I came across a mention of Harold Lloyd, a comedy genius who in terms of output and financial success, superseded even Charlie Chaplin.
By all accounts Lloyd was a surprisingly normal and kindly fellow who happened to be one of the great masters of humor in his day. Today he's best known for Safety Last (1923), especially the famous scene in which he climbs to the top of a building and dangles precariously from the hands of a massive clock far above a bustling city.
(Can you make it through the final scene without squirming in your chair or pausing the film? I couldn't!)
Look closely and you'll note something odd with his right hand. Lloyd lost two fingers and part of the palm during an accident four years earlier when he was handed a real bomb instead of a fake prop during a photo shoot. In subsequent films he wore a stuffed glove to hide this disfigurement. And despite this handicap he amazingly did almost all his own stunts.
When you've worked through Safety Last and some of his other films, take a look at the documentary of his life produced as part of the American Masters series from PBS. Unfortunately this has yet to be released on DVD, but depending on where you live, you can watch it on YouTube: