Saturday, June 25, 2016

Lloyd Hamilton: Adventures in Print

Whenever a new or expanded newspaper archive becomes available online, I cannot resist doing a search on my comedy hero Lloyd Hamilton.  I have a few newspaper items on Hamilton to share today. 

Hamilton first attained prominence with the Elleford dramatic company.  A critic with the Lompoc Journal expressed unadulterated praise after attending a presentation by the company in January of 1910.  He wrote, "Tonight the Elleford Dramatic company close the most successful week’s engagement that has ever been played in this city in point of attendance and the generous patronage accorded them but attests to the popularity of this meritorious troupe.  It is not stretching the statement to say that the players have afforded genuine pleasure throughout the entire engagement and we believe the company has been well pleased with its Lompoc audiences, which proves that Lompoc knows a good thing when it sees it."  The critic singled out Hamilton for commendation.  He noted, "Lloyd Hamilton was served up in many styles and we hardly know in which particular binding we liked him best.  He ran the gamut from the grave to the ludicrous and his makeups ranged from the unsophisticated kid to the scheming and repugnant countenance of a pettifogging lawyer.  He is truly a versatile funmaker and a man of many faces and voices."  Lloyd's good friend (and later film director) Lloyd Bacon received a mention for being "conscientious" in his performance as a straight lead.  A more veteran actor in the company, George Hernandez, also got a share of the laughs.  The critic wrote, "George Hernandez is a finished performer and a comedian lead character impersonator of rare ability, much of the success of each performance being due to his infectious fun and personality."  It was only within months after this performance that Hernandez left the Elleford company to become a film actor.  As a film actor, the accomplished thespian took on a wide variety of character roles, playing everything from a tramp to a judge.

Here is an interesting story from the Nevada State Journal.  The date of the story is August 16, 1909.
Last night Lloyd Hamilton, an actor now in the Elleford's company, reported the loss of a suit of clothes and a pair of full-dress trousers from his dressing room at the Wheelman. 

Hamilton joined the Elleford last Monday and left in his dressing-room a light brown or tan suit of clothes of the late style, practically new, and a pair of full-dress trousers with wide braid on the seams at the side.

Last night Hamilton found that the clothes had been taken, and he reported the loss to the police.
Hamilton was known to be fastidious about his wardrobe.  I am sure that he was not pleased to have his outfit stolen.  Hamilton went on to lose his pants repeatedly in his films.  In comedy films, the best solution to a lack of trousers was to hurry home under the cover of a barrel.


Hamilton devoted much of his spare time to hunting and fishing.  This became a subject for many news items on the comedian.  In 1918, the Los Angeles Herald reported that Hamilton had been stalking around in the woods when he was attacked by a rattlesnake.  Here is another news story that appeared in the Los Angeles Herald the following year.
Los Angeles Herald, July 19, 1919


Lloyd Hamilton, one of the leading laugh-makers in Henry Lehrman Comedies, reports fine fishing at Playa Del Rey this week, with mackerel plentiful.  He caught 57 from the pier on Wednesday morning, and only stopped because he got tired of pulling them in.
It's not the salacious type of content that would draw the interest of TMZ or Gawker today.

Hamilton didn't only socialize with mackerel and rattlesnake, which is demonstrated by our next item.  On January 9, 1917, the Los Angeles Herald reported on a wild Hollywood party in an article titled "Nothing Left But Cheer and Debris."  According to the article, comedian Hank Mann entertained friends with "lavish hospitality" for a New Year's Eve celebration at his home.  The article began, "Hank Mann, the Fox film comedy star, has cleared away the wreckage from the good ship New Year, which was launched at mid-night."  Among his guests were several members of the comedy community, including Charley Chase, Harry Edwards, Alice Howell, Fred Fishback, and our very own Lloyd Hamilton.

Hamilton also liked to commune with the ladies.  Steve Zalusky recently posted this article to Facebook.

Los Angeles Herald, August 9, 1920


Actress Complains She Was Accused of ‘Breaking Up Home’

Alleging she was wrongfully accused of stealing another woman's husband and that her character was assailed, Miss Ethel Teare, widely known as a screen portrayer of comedy parts, will seek $25,000 damages for alleged slander from Mrs. Ethel Hamilton through a suit which was on file today in the superior court.  Mrs. Hamilton's husband, Lloyd Hamilton, was made a nominal defendant in the action, which was filed through Attorney Sol A. Rehart.  The complaint recited that the alleged slanderous remarks attributed to Mrs. Hamilton were made in Santa Monica July 25 of this year.  At that time, Mrs. Hamilton was alleged to have referred to Miss Teare as follows: "Doctor, I came to tell you about this woman sitting alongside of you in a green hat; she went into my home and took my husband from me."  Miss Teare also alleged in her complaint that Mrs. Hamilton said, "You broke up my home," and "You are the kind of woman that will not go out with single men, but go out with married men and break up their homes."  Miss Teare asserted the alleged remarks were uttered in malice and were without foundation.
I recently spoke to Ethel Teare's granddaughter.  She said that, according to "family legend," Hamilton dated her grandmother for awhile and the two of them made plans to marry.

Lloyd Hamilton and Ethel Teare in A Tight Squeeze (1918)

My recent archive search on Hamilton has turned up extensive information on Hamilton's family history, which I will cover in my next article.

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