I Had No Idea The Life Of A Silent Movie Actor Was So Quietly Dangerous
With today’s special effects, it seems like the biggest risk an actor can take is to not wear makeup. Yet, back in the early days of cinema, there were a lot more risks to take — risks that even today’s stunt performer’s might balk at. And these risks were often taken by the actual actors themselves. Sure, every once in a while they’d use a double, but not only did early Hollywood actors have chops, they had guts as well.
Take the legendary Buster Keaton. Keaton was a leading man in many films, but that didn’t stop him for doing his own stunts. It almost seems as if, when movies had sound, actors had an understanding of what kind of danger they were putting themselves in. It wasn’t just Keaton, though; many notable thespians from that time performed their own stunts.
Buster Keaton – Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)
Harold Lloyd – Safety At Last (1923)
Buster Keaton – Daydream (1922)
Charlie Chaplin – Modern Times (1936)
Buster Keaton – Seven Chances (1925)
Buster Keaton – Sherlock, Jr. (1922)
Those actors sure were brave…or stupid. I think a strong case could be made either way. As brave as these actors are, you have to hand it to today’s movie stars. It would be horrifying to dangle from a clock tower, but that’s nothing compared to seeing yourself in HD. Yikes.