The Life of Harold Lockwood (1918) 🇺🇸

The Life of Harold Lockwood (1918) |

May 10, 2023

The story of Harold Lockwood is the story of youth and ambition; the story of young American manhood. Harold Lockwood climbed the ladder that leads to fame, and had reached its summit when death claimed him.

by Janet Priest

This favorite screen star, beloved by thousands upon thousands of picture patrons all over the world, was a thoroughly normal, happy, wholesome young American. He will always occupy a unique position in the attention and affections of the people, because of the very struggles that led to his success in his chosen profession, as well as the fact that he was stricken at the very pinnacle of achievement.

“Pals First,” a de luxe production in which he starred, had just completed a special run at the Broadway Theatre, New York, before going on tour. In this screen version of Lee Wilson Dodd’s play, dramatized from the novel by Francis Perry Elliott, author of so many of his successes, Harold Lockwood won the ungrudging admiration of critics and public. Later he produced “The Great Romance,” an original story by Finis Fox, and had almost completed “The Yellow Dove,” a picture version of George Gibb’s thrilling novel. These two productions had not been released at the time of his death.

Many a boy with ambitions for a stage career will try to model his life after that of Harold Lockwood. Lockwood was a “regular kid,” one of us “fellers” — the kind that plays baseball out on the corner lot and likes to take a dip in the old swimming-hole. A childhood friend of his recalls that at about the age of ten, Harold was very “sweet” on a girl whose father owned a merry-go-round, so even at those tender years he was a favorite of fortune. This friend also “deposes” that Harold was a terrible tease, which proves that he was a normal boy.

Harold acquired the “wanderlust” naturally in his early youth. He was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., but his family moved frequently, New York City generally being the point of return. The family also lived in Norwalk, Conn., and Newark, N. J., at different times. Most of Harold’s grammar and high-school years were spent in Newark, and the inhabitants of that city are more insistent then all the others in claiming that he belongs principally to them. After attending the Newark high school, he went to New York to business college. His father was a breeder of trotting horses, and expected his son would join him in the business, but Harold wanted to enter some other commercial line. The way in which he did it is indicative of the “stick-to-it-iveness” of his character.

When he finished his course at business college, he chose the firm he wanted to work for. It was a wholesale dry-goods establishment in lower New York. He walked in and tackled the proprietor for a job.

“What experience have you had?” he was asked.

“Absolutely none. That’s why I’m here.”

“Well, we can’t use a man with no experience. But leave your name and address, and I’ll let you know if anything develops.”

Next morning Harold was there when the store opened, and as the “boss” came in, repeated his request for a job. “I told you I’d let you know,” said the proprietor testily. “I’ll send for you if I ever want you.” Next morning at 8.30 he was there again. By the fourth morning the “boss” was so “mad” he continued to sputter at the young man’s nerve all the way into his office. Harold followed him and argued with him.

“But you’ve had no experience,” expostulated the “boss.”

“How am I going to get experience if you don’t give me a chance?” insisted Harold.

The big man pushed a button, and a clerk appeared. “Here, put this man to work as a salesman. He doesn’t know anything about the stock, but he’s got nerve enough to sell golf sticks to a wooden Indian.”

The months sped by, and Harold sold goods, and kept on selling goods. Never, at any period of his brief and brilliant career, did he see any particular reason for being afraid of anybody. Jolly and whole-souled, he proceeded on the principle that all men were his friends. But his “boss” couldn’t understand this attitude. When the time came for summer vacations, Harold’s two-weeks’ salary was given him in a private session.

“Young man, is your father a millionaire?”

"No,” answered Harold, puzzled. “Why?”

“Because you’re so darned independent. When your two weeks are up, you needn’t come back.”

“What’s the trouble; hasn’t my work been satisfactory?”

“Perfectly. But you’re so sure of everything. Some morning I’ll come in here and find you’ve decided to be boss. And then where will I be? Goodbye and good luck.

The disappointed young man still wanted to be a business man, but fate was against him. It was a slack season, and he couldn’t find another job. Someone suggested that he go on the stage. He could sing and dance a little, although he had never thought about those things as assets. He got a job as chorus-man in The Broken Idol, with Otis Harlan. He didn’t like it very well, but it was better than asking “Dad” for money, and he stuck. Then he decided he would try acting, and he secured an engagement with Edward N. Hoyt in a vaudeville version of Faust, in which he played “Faust,” and Mr. Hoyt “Mephistopheles.” Five years more he spent in stock companies and on the road, and then a friend suggested that he was just the type needed in the motion pictures, which were sweeping the country by storm. By correspondence, he received an offer from Rex-Universal in California to come out and try his luck. He seized the opportunity, paying his own way from New York to the west coast. He was a sufficiently good business man to realize that he had to show his goods before he could get the proper price for them. But there were times on the way out when he did not eat very sumptuously.

In a short time people were saying that Harold Lockwood was born for the screen. Young Lockwood was given better and better parts. In 1910 he was with Nestor; in 1912 with Bison 101; then successively with NYMP, Selig and Famous Players. He became a leading man, with a constantly growing following of screen patrons. As lead for Mary Pickford in “Such a Little Queen,” “Hearts Adrift,” and “Tess of the Storm Country,” and opposite Marguerite Clark in “Wildflower,” his work attracted favorable attention, and great things were prophesied for him — all of which were fulfilled. His dream of stardom was realized when he signed a new contract, this time with American-Mutual, and his steady upward progress continued. Now came “The Lure of the Mask,” “Life’s Blind Alley,” “The Turn of the Road,” and other productions.

With American, he became associated with May Allison, whom he had met while both were playing in the screen version of William H. Crane’s “David Harum.” They proved an ideal “team,” and the combination was continued when the co-star became identified with Metro Pictures Corporation, both later branching out as individual stars. With Miss Allison as his co-star, Harold Lockwood made eight Metro pictures: “The Come-Back,” “The Masked Rider,” “The River of Romance,” “Mister 44,” “Big Tremaine,” “Pidgin Island,” “The Promise” and “The Hidden Children.”

These pictures reflected the life of the great out-doors, of which Harold Lockwood was always a devotee. A Lockwood picture could always be depended upon to have a Lockwood “fight,” which was always a real one. Lester Cuneo used to be his sparring partner, before he stopped playing villain parts to go to war, and the two were the worst of enemies before the camera and the best of friends away from it. Vigorous, clean, wholesome romance made the Lockwood output popular with “fans” and exhibitors, both in America and abroad. Harold Lockwood became the idol of countless American youths, men, girls and matrons.

When Lockwood branched out as an individual star, he determined to give the screen public the very best there was in him. He chose photoplays that were superb examples of screen art, often adapted from famous novels. The out-door element still predominated. The young star even luxuriated in the occasional chance to wear a “stubble” beard before the camera — unheard of for one supposed to set the standards of masculine appearance. Lockwood was a “he-man.” His vogue and drawing power continued to grow with “The Haunted Pajamas,” “The Hidden Spring,” “Under Handicap,” and “Paradise Garden.” Romance and red-blooded action were united in “The Avenging Trail,” “Broadway Bill” and “The Landloper.” Delightful comedy marked “Lend Me Your Name,” “The Square Deceiver,” and “Pals First.” Productions left unreleased at the time of the young star’s untimely death were: “A King in Khaki,” “The Great Romance,” and “The Yellow Dove.”

Three reels of the last-named play, a picturization of George Gibb’s well-known novel, had already been completed under the direction of Edwin Carewe. Advantage had been taken of the gorgeous, clear autumn days for the photographing of exterior scenes, the company remaining out as long as there was enough light to photograph by.

The Fourth Liberty Loan drive was on, and — always intensely patriotic — the young star, sometimes badly chilled, went direct from his long day’s work to the Motion Picture Exposition at Madison Square Garden, to “boost” the Loan. For every $5,000 subscribed by the audience he himself subscribed $1,000 Metro’s booth at the exposition was thronged with ardent Lockwood “fans,” and occasionally the Morning Telegraph would send over an insistent appeal, and “borrow” him.

Then, due in the first place, probably, to overwork, Spanish influenza seized him, developing into the pneumonia that was the direct cause of his death. In a time of sadness and desolation, the country became more desolate still at the thought of this clean, wholesome young fun-maker suddenly snatched away; of this genial, likable young American gone at the very height of his success. For only the week before thousands of Broadway playgoers had laughed and cried at his screen-classic triumph, “Pals First,” in which he and James Lackaye played the delightful roles taken in the stage version by William Courtenay and Thomas A. Wise. As the electric lights spelling his name faded out from the great sign in front of the Broadway Theatre, his light faded out upon earth.

However, it will shine with renewed luster in the hearts and memories of all his friends; of those who drew inspiration and joy from his delightful screen characterizations; those who have recognized the nature of the man from his reflected self on the silver sheet.

Harold Lockwood was so human, so sympathetic, so genuine and full of genial interest in all the world, that it seems impossible he is gone. But he died as he lived, filled with altruism and the joy of giving. Whether present actually or in spirit, he is still “everybody’s favorite.”

The late Harold Lockwood

Collection: Photoplay MagazineDecember 1918