This post was originally published on the lonelybrand blog as part of an ongoing silent film series.
Chances are, even if you haven’t seen a single silent film, you’re still familiar with this image. It’s an iconic shot that has been recreated by the likes of Christopher Lloyd in "Back to the Future," Asa Butterfield in “Hugo” and Jackie Chan on several occasions, but the man who started it all, and is featured in the photo above, is silent film comedian Harold Lloyd.
In the 1910s and 1920s, department stores would often employ ‘human flies’ to bring publicity and attention to their businesses. Lloyd witnessed one of these stunts firsthand when he saw Bill Strother climbing the Brockman Building in Los Angeles as a stunt. Lloyd was fascinated and terrified, and hid behind a corner, occasionally peeking to check on Strother's progress. When Strother reached the roof, Lloyd went up and introduced himself. After seeing the event unfold before him, Lloyd got the idea to translate that stunt into a film and gave Strother a role as his best friend.