Raymond Griffith was one of the great silent movie comedians.
Griffith was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He lost his voice at an early age, causing him to speak for the rest of his life in a hoarse whisper. Griffith claimed that it was the result of his having to scream at the top of his lungs every night in a stage melodrama as a child actor?others have stated that a childhood disease was more likely the cause.
Although a few comedy films of his are considered classics he is almost totally forgotten today. Many of his starring feature films have long since been lost, but probably the best known of his films today is Hands Up!, a 1926 Civil War comedy feature directed by Clarence G. Badger, and co-starring Mack Swain, which was entered into the National Film Registry in 2005. Also considered a classic is Badger’s Paths to Paradise, a caper film that is in all circulating prints missing its final reel. Like many silent comedians, he had a traditional costume; his was a top hat, white tie and tails, often augmented by a cape and/or walking stick.
The coming of sound ended Griffith’s acting career, but he did have one memorable role in a motion picture before retiring from the screen, playing a French soldier killed by Lew Ayres in the 1930 Lewis Milestone film All Quiet on the Western Front. He then segued into a writing/producing career at Twentieth Century Fox.