Walter Hiers

Active - 1917 - 1932  |   Born - Jul 18, 1893   |   Died - Feb 22, 1933   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance, Crime

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Biography by Hans J. Wollstein

Plump (reportedly "230 pounds of gaiety") American silent screen comedian Walter Hiers began his career as an extra with the old Biograph Company under the guidance of D. W. Griffith. According to Hiers, he played a bellhop in his first film, Saved from Himself (1911), with Mabel Normand. A self-described opponent of slapstick, Hiers became a star in what can only be described as polite situation comedy for Falstaff, the comedy brand of the Thanhouser Company.The few surviving films starring Hiers do not elicit smiles, much less laughs, from modern audiences (Hiers' bulk was apparently thought to be funny in and of itself), but he was popular enough to enjoy top supporting roles in features like Brown of Harvard (1918) -- his character name was, of course, "Tubby" -- to Harold Lloyd's Speedy (1928). Two-reel comedy company Educational starred Hiers in his own series as late as 1925, but by then the "fat comedian" vogue seems to have been over at long last. Hiers' early death was attributed to pneumonia. He left a widow, stage and screen actress Gloria Williams.