Lon Chaney

Actor, Director, Screenwriter
Dubbed "The Man of a Thousand Faces" and the first great master of horror before it became a formalized genre in the 1930s, actor Lon Chaney broke new ground in the silent era of Hollywood for his exceptionally skilled ... Read more »
Born: 04/01/1883 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA

Filmography

Actor (26)

Laugh, Clown, Laugh 1927 (Movie)

Tito Beppi (Actor)

West of Zanzibar 1927 (Movie)

Dead Legs (Actor)

The Unknown 1926 (Movie)

Alonzo (Actor)

The Phantom of the Opera 1925 (Movie)

Erik The Phantom (Actor)

The Penalty 1919 (Movie)

(Actor)

A Blind Bargain (Movie)

Dr. Arthur Lamb (Actor)

Danger, Go Slow (Movie)

Bud (Actor)

Daredevil Jack (Movie)

Royce Rivers (Actor)

False Faces (Movie)

Karl Eckstrom (Actor)

He Who Gets Slapped (Movie)

He Who Gets Slapped (Actor)

London After Midnight (Movie)

Burke (Actor)

Mr. Wu (Movie)

Mr. Wu (Actor)

Nomads of the North (Movie)

Raoul Challoner (Actor)

Talk of the Town (Movie)

(Actor)

Tell It to the Marines (Movie)

Sgt. O'Hara (Actor)

The Ace of Hearts (Movie)

Farralone (Actor)

The Big City (Movie)

Chuck Collins (Actor)

The Miracle Man (Movie)

The Frog (Actor)

The Road to Mandalay (Movie)

Songapore Joe (Actor)

The Shock (Movie)

Wilse Dilling (Actor)

The Tower of Lies (Movie)

Jan (Actor)

The Unholy Three (Movie)

Prof. Echo/Granny O'Grady (Actor)

Thunder (Movie)

Grumpy Anderson (Actor)

Triumph (Movie)

Paul Neihoff (Actor)

Where East Is East (Movie)

Tiger Haynes (Actor)

While Paris Sleeps (Movie)

Henri Santodos (Actor)

Biography

Dubbed "The Man of a Thousand Faces" and the first great master of horror before it became a formalized genre in the 1930s, actor Lon Chaney broke new ground in the silent era of Hollywood for his exceptionally skilled use of makeup and his ability to contort his own body in any manner he chose. After a career in vaudeville, Chaney made his way to Hollywood in 1912 and worked on dozens of pictures as a supporting player until elevating his status alongside Dorothy Phillips and William Stowell in films like "The Piper's Price" (1917), "The Talk of the Town" (1918) and "Paid in Advance" (1919). At this time, Chaney won widespread recognition thanks to his first collaboration with director Tod Browning on "The Wicked Darling" (1919). Meanwhile, he went to increasingly greater lengths to create tortured characters until achieving true mastery as the deaf and partially blind Quasimodo in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1923). But his most lasting creation was undoubtedly the disfigured Phantom in "The Phantom of the Opera" (1925), in which his full artistry was on display in a pivotal unmasking scene that remained one of the most frightening moments captured on film. In the last five years of his life, Chaney made some of his most popular movies, including "Tell It to the Marines" (1926), "Mr. Wu" (1927) and "The Unholy Three" (1930), his only talkie. With his son, Lon Chaney, Jr., successfully carrying on his legacy, Chaney remained a remarkable figure whose ability to make human a grotesque gallery of deformed characters was unmatched.

Relationships

Lon Chaney

Son
born February 10, 1906 mother was Chaney's first wife, Cleva Creighton

Cleva Creighton

Wife

Hazel Hastings

Wife
Met when both worked with Ferris Hartmann Opera Company in San Francisco, CA Married 1914 until his death Aug. 26, 1930

Milestones

1930

First talking picture (and his last film), "The Unholy Three" (sound remake of his 1925 silent film)

1930

Was signed to star in Tod Browning's "Dracula" at time of death

1929

Final silent, "Thunder"; although thought lost, footage was discovered in 1996

1919

First role which brought national recognition, "The Miracle Man"

1916

Directed and supervised Western star J. Warren Kerrigan in seven films for Universal (also scripted two)

1915

Debut as film director with the short, "The Stool Pigeon"

1914

First screen acting credit, "Hell Morgan's Girl"

1912

Entered films as Western heavy; appeared unbilled in "False Faces", "Riddle Gawne"

Joined the Ferris Hartmann Opera Company in San Francisco; travelled with company to Los Angeles

First theatrical appearance in "The Little Tycoon" (co-wrote with his brother, a theater manager) at age 17

Left school and worked as guide, conducting tourists along the tortuous trail to Pike's Peak; then worked as prop boy in Colorado Springs Opera House

Went to Chicago and worked on stage as a comic and dancer and helped move scenery (had a stage hand union card)

Bonus Trivia

.

Wrote article on make-up in the Encyclopedia Britannica and wrote preface on a textbook of screen makeup by Cecil Holland.

.

His obituary in The New York Times claimed he was fond of the Hollywood quip: "Don't step on that spider; it may be Lon Chaney."

SIMILAR ARTICLES