Lige Conley (born Elijah Crommie; December 5, 1897 – December 11, 1937) was an American actor of the silent era. He appeared in 140 films between 1915 and 1938.
As Lige Crommie, the curly-haired young comedian joined the stock company of the Mack Sennett studio in 1915. In 1917 he moved to the up-and-coming Hal Roach studio, then producing one-reel comedies with Harold Lloyd, Bebe Daniels, and Snub Pollard. The Roach comedies credited the actor as “Lige Cromley,” but since Lloyd and company dominated their pictures, which were limited to single reels, there was little chance for Lige to distinguish himself. He returned to Sennett as a stock player, again as Lige Crommie. When Sennett director Fred Fishback left Sennett for his own unit at Universal Pictures. Lige soon joined him there.
The comic finally achieved stardom at Educational Pictures, where he appeared in a long string of brisk, elaborately staged two-reel comedies. Some of these were directed by Fishback, under the pseudonym of Fred Hibbard. Educational took out trade ads in the mid-1920s, hailing Conley as the next Charlie Chaplin. Conley, with his curly hair and coy grin, did indeed bear a resemblance to the out-of-character Chaplin.
Conley’s stock-in-trade was the comedy of embarrassment, as his meek screen character earnestly failed at any occupation he tried. Conley’s two most famous comedies are both 1924 releases: Fast and Furious, directed by Norman Taurog, is a fast-moving comedy set in a general store, with Lige doing everything from demonstrating pancake batter to selling shoes. The last half of the film is a spectacular car-motorcycle-and-train chase, some of which was excerpted in the Kevin Brownlow-David Gill silent-film documentary Hollywood (1980). Air Pockets, directed by Fred Hibbard, casts Lige as an inventor about to demonstrate his “folding flivver” automobile to a board of executives. The film shows his accident-prone problems getting to the appointment, then the demonstration (which ends in disaster), and finally his fleeing from the appointment in a runaway airplane.
Educational did not renew Conley’s contract when the studio was converting to sound films, and his career as a comedy star came to an end. He continued to play bit parts into the 1930s.
Lige Conley died in 1937, struck and killed by an automobile soon after playing a small role in the Fred Allen comedy Sally, Irene and Mary.