How Old Are Silent Movie Fans? My Readers Answered

A while back, I asked my readers to tell me how old they are and participation in the accompanying poll was quite high. So, here are the results:

(The polling service rounds up to the nearest percent so this may not exactly come out to 100% but, come on, we’re hardly Gallup here.)

Pre-teen: 0.2% (Used a fraction here because there was a small response that rounded to zero but I think they should be included.)

Teen: 4%

20-29: 17%

30-39: 15%

40-49: 17%

50-59: 23%

60-69: 18%

70-79: 6%

80+: 1%

One thing that jumped out at me is that over half of you are under 50 and a solid chunk of you are in the Millennial age range. So much for “Millennials are killing old movies” and other such nonsense.

The 50-59 age group has the highest piece of the pie but generally, the ages are pretty evenly spread between 20 and 69. In my opinion, it’s healthy and desirable for a fandom to have a variety of ages so that it will have the advantages of both youth and vigor AND old age and treachery.

(I am willing to bet that a good number of the 50s age group were introduced to silent films by the Hollywood miniseries, which first aired in 1980.)

So, we have most of the generations well-represented here and I am tickled pink about it. You’re never too young or too old to love the silent era.


  1. Mitch

    Another factor for some of us was The Silent Years w/ Orson Welles on PBS in the ’70s. I have also been fascinated by K. Brownlow’s comments that the studios in the talkie era presented silent films at the wrong speed with sound effects and a running comical commentary. No wonder that, earlier generations
    saw silent films not as a separate art form, but as defective.

  2. bP

    Great seeing all ages represented pretty evenly. The public domain status of a lot of these films and the internet introduced these films to a whole new generation of fans.

  3. mercurie80

    This is fascinating. I am willing to bet a lot of Gen Xers were introduced through silent films through video stores in the Eighties. I know that is how it happened with me. As a horror fan my best friend and I rented Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari from 9th Street Video in Columbia!

  4. Scott Lueck

    I’m smack in the middle of the 50-59 age group, and me and a lot of my contemporaries were exposed to silents via the Time-Life versions of Harold Lloyd’s films (and the Harold Lloyd’s World of Comedy series) that showed on many PBS stations in the late seventies and early eighties. Most of us even know the lyrics to the Hooray for Harold Lloyd song they played during the opening credits.

  5. Shari Polikoff

    For my age group (60+), at least in major metro areas, it was definitely the film festivals. At one point in the 1970s, I was shuttling between three or four festivals a week, in Boston/Cambridge, Providence, and New York.

  6. George

    “”Fractured Flickers” has a lot to answer for.”

    MGM produced Pete Smith shorts in the ’30s that had scenes from silents with goofy sound effects and Smith’s wisecracking narration. The message was that these old movies only deserved ridicule.

  7. George

    One treat that older fans had was talking to parents or grandparents who saw silents when they were new. My grandfather remembered when Harold Lloyd was known as Lonesome Luke!

  8. Paul Fitzpatrick

    Please excuse my late reply. Regarding over-the-top music, I would prefer the silly sound effects in the 1930s Chaplin reissues over music that is too serene and, for that matter, too slow-moving. Some Chaplin DVDs run the films too slow.

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