Babe Ruth’s hilarious cameo appearance is one of the many highlights in Harold Lloyd’s final silent comedy Speedy (1928), which I am presenting at 3:10 pm on Sunday, October 21, 2012, and at 7:30 pm on Monday, October 22, at Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, New York, NY 10014, based on the discoveries in my new Lloyd book Silent Visions. Using animated slides I will lead viewers to dozens of landmarks and forgotten byways across town, in what is the first comprehensive study of New York’s most prominent role in a major silent film. I previously posted about Lou Gehrig’s surprise cameo during Ruth’s cameo here, and you can read my prior posts about Speedy here.
Taking a break from his record-breaking 60 home run season, Babe appears in the film tossing out autographed baseballs at the former Hebrew Orphan Asylum in Hamilton Heights, across the street from the City College of New York campus. Afterwards, Harold, playing a star-struck novice cabbie, takes Babe on a hair-raising ride across town to Yankee Stadium.
By coincidence, Tom Shieber, Senior Curator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, was attempting to identify photos of Ruth visiting an orphanage, and being aware of my Keaton book, contacted me yesterday for assistance identifying the photos. After exchanging emails, I was delighted to confirm to Tom that his photos were taken at the Hebrew Orphan Asylum during Ruth’s filming of Speedy, and in turn, was delighted to receive these three rare photos of Babe posted here.
Tom and I have yet to find newspaper coverage of Babe’s visit to the home, but the CorbisImages.com photo of Babe (BE034424) taken there that day was captioned September 15, 1927. This means Babe’s visit took place after hitting home runs 51 and 52 during a September 13th double-header, and preceded home run number 53 the next day. Babe hit his record-breaking 60th home run on September 30, 1927.
In all, Babe had a very busy time the week of his appearance in Speedy. To begin, Ruth played a total of eight games that week, including double-headers on Tuesday and Saturday. On Monday, his only day off, Babe appeared in court to address charges he had allegedly assaulted a man on the street, and was cleared of the charges that Friday. On Thursday, Babe not only filmed at the home, and apparently his other scenes for the movie, but also found time to squeeze in a game at Yankee Stadium that afternoon.
The Jewish Child Care Association has an account and another photo of Babe’s visit here. You can read all about the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, and how it was once nearly sold to became the site for the original Yankee Stadium, in my new Harold Lloyd book Silent Visions.
You can access a tour of Lloyd’s filming in Brooklyn in this prior post.
HAROLD LLOYD images and the names of Mr. Lloyd’s films are all trademarks and/or service marks of Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc. Images and movie frame images reproduced courtesy of The Harold Lloyd Trust and Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc.
Photos courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Beth Goffe.
The site of the former asylum is now the Jacob H. Schiff Playground, 1540 Amsterdam Avenue, in New York.
thanks for rare photos of the Babe …new to me. My father saw Babe Ruth play.
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John, good morning, I am a fellow author, author of biographies of Sandy Koufax and Mickey Mantle, working on a Babe Ruth bio called “The Big Fella, Babe Ruth and the Advent of Celebrity” for HarperCollins. I would very much like to talk to you about Ruth’s relationship with Harold Lloyd and his agent Christy Walsh. I am reachable at Jane.Leavy@me.com and 202-285-4379 (c), 202-244-4462 (w). Looking forward, Jane