The Story of the Most Over-the-Top Christmas Tree in History

Harold Lloyd is known as both one of Hollywood’s legendary stars of early 1900s silent comedy, and as the owner of a year-long Christmas tree adorned with over 5,000 colorful decorations.

If you think yourself the kind of person that goes over the top when decorating the family Christmas tree, don’t beat yourself up too hard, as you’ll probably never be as obsessed with Christmas decorations as Harold Lloyd. The Hollywood legend, who starred in such films as Safety Last! (1923) and High and Dizzy (1920), is said to have had a collection of over 8,000 decorations collected from all over the world. But what he is most famous for is using most of these eye-catching baubles to decorate an impressive Christmas tree that is now regarded by many as the most adorned Christmas tree that ever was.

According to Lloyd’s granddaughter, the comedy actor loved decorating the Christmas tree so much that he started working on it before Thanksgiving and barely finished in time for Christmas. Judging on the work required to put up this particular Christmas tree, I’d say he worked fairly fast…

“It started sometime around Thanksgiving. My grandparents would take me downtown to the train yards where the annual shipment of trees would arrive for the holiday season,” Suzanne Lloyd recalled. “We would pick out three large Douglas firs and they would be wired together to make one enormous, fantastic Christmas tree. It sat at one end of the garden room rising 20 feet in the air. It was 9 feet wide and almost 30 feet around. Imagine the amount of presents that can fit under a tree that is 30 feet around!”


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But not even the tallest and strongest fir tree could withstand the weight of thousands of baubles, some adorned with heavy precious stones or made from thick glass, without its branches sagging or breaking. So Lloyd would improve on Mother Nature’s work with drills and wires. He would buy several trees, cut off their branches and then drill holes into the trunk of the strongest tree and insert those branches, securing them with bamboo poles and metal wire. He ended up with a perfectly symmetrical tree that never buckled under the weight of his decorations.

Over the years, Harold Lloyd collected thousands of Christmas decorations from all over the world, so every year the tree grew bigger and required more time to assemble and dismantle. The actor himself would spend several weeks hanging the baubles using a ladder, but that was until he discovered fireproofing. The solution meant he didn’t have to take the tree apart after Christmas and could have a green fir tree in his house even in the middle of summer.


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“One year we counted over 5,000 ornaments hanging from the tree and we still had enough left over to decorate 3 more trees just as big!” Lloyd’s granddaughter once said. “Every year the tree grew larger to hold more ornaments; then one year it became a permanent fixture in our home. It was simply too large, too decorated, and too engineered to disassemble. So we had it fireproofed and celebrated Christmas every day of the year!”

Harold Lloyd’s Christmas tree became a permanent fixture in his Greenacres home and became the highlight of the tour, when the place became a museum, after the actor’s death, in 1971. However, it didn’t last long, as debts and complaints from neighbors forced Lloyd’s foundation to sell Greenacres at auction.


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The developer who bought the property leveled the gardens, sold the house, and subdivided the land. He didn’t care about the glorious Christmas tree which reportedly ended up being turned to kindling. Fortunately, photos of it in its glory days still make the rounds on social media during the winter holidays.