Tod Browning

Director, Screenwriter, Actor
A pioneering director who helped create the horror film genre, Tod Browning made his mark on cinema via his 10-film collaboration with actor Lon Chaney, the first sound version of "Dracula" (1931), starring Bela Lugosi ... Read more »
Born: 07/12/1880 in Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Filmography

Director (17)

The Devil-Doll 1935 (Movie)

(Director)

Dracula 1931 (Movie)

(Director)

Freaks 1931 (Movie)

(Director)

West of Zanzibar 1927 (Movie)

(Director)

The Unknown 1926 (Movie)

(Director)

Under Two Flags 1921 (Movie)

(Director)

Hands Up (Movie)

(Director)

London After Midnight (Movie)

(Director)

Mark of the Vampire (Movie)

(Director)

Mystic (Movie)

(Director)

Paid (Movie)

(Director)

The Big City (Movie)

(Director)

The Road to Mandalay (Movie)

(Director)

The Thirteenth Chair (Movie)

(Director)

The Unholy Three (Movie)

(Director)

Under Two Flags (Movie)

(Director)

Where East Is East (Movie)

(Director)
Writer (9)

The Devil-Doll 1935 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Unknown 1926 (Movie)

(From Story)

Under Two Flags 1921 (Movie)

adaptation (Writer (adaptation))

Atta Boy's Last Race (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

London After Midnight (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

Under Two Flags (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

Where East Is East (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

Where East Is East (Movie)

(Screen Story)
Producer (3)

Freaks 1931 (Movie)

(Producer)

London After Midnight (Movie)

(Producer)

The Thirteenth Chair (Movie)

(Producer)
Actor (1)

Intolerance 1916 (Movie)

Owner of Racing Car) (Actor)

Biography

A pioneering director who helped create the horror film genre, Tod Browning made his mark on cinema via his 10-film collaboration with actor Lon Chaney, the first sound version of "Dracula" (1931), starring Bela Lugosi, and most particularly his master work, "Freaks" (1932). So grotesque and frightful was "Freaks," that some 20 minutes were cut from the U.S. version, while Great Britain banned the film for three decades. But it was his work with Chaney during the silent era that stood the test of time, which started with "The Wicked Darling" (1919) and ended with "Where East is East" (1929). In between, he had Chaney portray a transvestite in "The Unholy Three" (1925), a cripple in "The Black Bird" (1926) and a vampire in "London After Midnight" (1927). He had slated "Dracula" to star Chaney, but the actor fell ill and died of cancer, leaving Browning to reluctantly hire Lugosi. Meanwhile, after "Freaks," he helmed "Mark of the Vampire" (1935), a remake of "London After Midnight," "The Devil Doll" (1936) and "Miracles for Sale" (1939), before calling it a career. Following his death in 1962, film historians re-evaluated his career and helped rehabilitate him with contemporary audiences, elevating his status as a trailblazing horror director.

Relationships

Wife
married c. 1907 divorced c. 1911

Charles Albert Browning

Father

Lydia Browing

Mother

Alice Browning

Wife
born in 1887 married in June 1917 separated in the early 1920s reconciled died in 1944

Avery Browning

Brother
older died in 1959

Peter Browning

Uncle
reportedly the player for whom the "Louisville Slugger" baseball bat was created

EDUCATION

Boys High School

Louisville, Kentucky
dropped out at age 16 to join the circus

Milestones

1946

Received screen credit for the story for "Inside Job"

1941

Formally retired from filmmaking

1939

Last film, "Miracles for Sale"

1936

Directed the intriguing "The Devil Doll"

1933

Reteamed with John Gilbert on "Fast Workers", a drama about construction workers that proved a flop

1932

Status at MGM lessened after the box-office failure of "Freaks"; studio cut 20 minutes after a disastrous preview; contemporary critics and audiences dismissed film; banned from screenings in Great Britain until 1962

1931

Directed, "Dracula" (for Universal); director's first choice for part was Chaney who was too ill to work; title role eventually played by Bela Lugosi who had originated it on Broadway

1929

Last collaboration with Chaney, "Where East Is East"; also last silent film

1929

First sound film, "The Thirteenth Chair"; also released as a silent; first film with Bela Lugosi

1927

Clashed with studio heads over "The Show", featuring John Gilbert and Chaney; dark subject matter (a circus sideshow) offended many critics

1926

Helmed "The Black Bird", starring Chaney

1925

Career turned around after directing "The Unholy Three" for MGM; film starred Chaney, Victor McLaglen and Harry Earles

1924

Last film under Universal contract, "White Tiger"

1919

First collaboration with Lon Chaney, "The Wicked Darling", starring Priscilla Dean

1918

Initiated collaboration with actress Priscilla Dean with "Which Woman" and "The Brazen Beauty"

1918

Began directing for Bluebird Photoplays; later joined Universal by year's end

1918

Received screenplay credit for "Set Free"; also directed

1917

Helmed several films for Metro, many with Edith Storey as star

1917

Feature film directing debut, the Civil War romance "Jim Bludso"; co-directed with star Wilfred Lucas

1916

Was an assistant director to D.W. Griffith on "Intolerance"; also acted in the film

1916

Wrote and directed the comedy short, "The Mystery of the Leaping Fish"

1915

Began directing career, helming two-reel shorts like "The Living Death" and "The Lucky Transfer"

1915

Involved in an automobile accident while driving drunk that resulted in the death of comic Elmer Booth, a passenger in the car (June 17)

1913

Feature acting debut, had bit role as an undertaker in "Scenting a Terrible Crime", directed by Griffith

1913

Introduced to D W Griffith by former partner Charles Murray; joined Biograph Studios as a performer

1896

At age 16, joined the Manhattan Fair and Carnival Company; changed first name to Tod

Performed in vaudeville as a contortionist and clown as well as a singer and dancer and a comic, the latter in partnership with several other performers including Charles Murray; traveled throughout the world

Moved to Hollywood with Griffith

Briefly appeared as a clown with the Ringling Brothers Circus

Loaned out to Universal

Billed as "The Living Corpse" in one carnival act; would be buried alive for up to two days at a time

Developed throat cancer in the 1950s and underwent an operation on his tongue

Struggled with alcoholism for roughly two years

As a child in Louisville, Kentucky, performed in and produced amateur theatricals

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