Raymond Griffith: The Silk-Hat Comedian Can Now Be Seen in "Rain or Shine"

Raymond Griffith article from Picture Show magazine

Picture Show, August 13, 1927, page 8

Raymond Griffith: The Silk-Hat Comedian Can Now Be Seen in "Rain or Shine"

RAYMOND GRIFFITH could never be accused of being conceited over his acting.

Quite an important part of the day's work in a film studio is viewing the "rushes" of the scenes made either that day or the previous day.  When a Raymond Griffith film is being made and everybody goes to the projection room, Ray himself remains outside.  He can be seen walking about the studio in an agitated manner, biting his lips, his nails, or tugging at his moustache.  When somebody tells him that his scenes were splendid, he is really delighted and looks as though he can scarcely believe it.

He will never give his reason for refusing to see the "rushes," but nobody has ever yet been able to cajole him into entering the dreaded projection room.

Ray Griffith is of the theatrical world entirely; his mother was an actress, his father an actor, as were also his grandfather and great-grandfather.

With Barnum and Bailey's

He was only fifteen months old when he made his first stage appearance, and when he was seven he played Little Lord Fauntleroy.  At twelve he was doing a turn with Barnum and Bailey's Curcus, but he had to leave this show, because much to his disgust his parents decided that he ought to go to school.

When his education was completed he went back to the stage; at times he played in drama and at others in musical comedy.  It was a very great grief to him when he lost his voice, and he had to give up the stage.  He was appearing in a melodrama entitled "The Witching Hour," in which he had to give a blood-curdling off-stage scream.  He screamed for so many months that he must have strained his vocal chords, and one day he found that he could only speak in a husky whisper, and his voice has been like that ever since.

He went to France and there joined a troupe of pantomimists, where his voice would not be needed.  Afterwards he went back to America and became a dancer on the vaudeville stage.  During his touring he went to Los Angeles, and then he realised that in spite of his voice, he could be an actor once more.

A "Gag" Man

He gained an entry into a well-known studio by becoming a "gag" man for comedies, and as he always acted out the "gags" he suggested, it was not long before the director realised his wonderful acting abilities.  When finally Ray was given a chance to act once more he appeared in comedies that he himself wrote and directed too.

In between his own work he wrote four original stories for Douglas MacLean, and assisted the late Thos. H Ince in putting life into a picture where there was none before.

He appeared in a few dramas for Goldwyn, and things were going along in rather a humdrum fashion, until the day when Marshall Neilan gave him a prominent role in "Fools First."

From that day Raymond Griffith rose in leaps and bounds in the comedy world, and his first real triumph cam with "Miss Bluebeard," and "Forty Winks".

Most of the comedians of the screen have something exclusive to themselves.  Charlie Chaplin has his trick shoes and his baggy trousers, Harold Lloyd his horn-rimmed glasses, Buster Keaton his poker face.  Raymond Griffith has his silk hat, and he is always known as "The silk-hat comedian."

He did not choose the high hat to be symbolical of his type of comedy, it just came about.  He wore it in one film, then in the next, and before he knew it, he was wearing it in every picture.

Raymond Griffith's latest picture, which has just been released, is entitled "Rain and Shine".

Note: "Rain and Shine" was the British title for "A Regular Fellow", also known as "He's a Prince" (1927).

Last Modified September 25, 2009.