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Lon Chaney is a Actor, Director, Scriptwriter and Makeup Artist American born on 1 april 1883 at Colorado Springs (USA)

Lon Chaney

Lon Chaney
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Birth name Leonidas Frank Chaney
Nationality USA
Birth 1 april 1883 at Colorado Springs (USA)
Death 26 august 1930 (at 47 years) at Los Angeles (USA)

Leonidas Frank "Lon" Chaney (April 1, 1883 – August 26, 1930) was an American stage and film actor, director and screenwriter. He is regarded as one of the most versatile and powerful actors of early cinema, renowned for his characterizations of tortured, often grotesque and afflicted characters, and his groundbreaking artistry with makeup. Chaney is known for his starring roles in such silent horror films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). His ability to transform himself using makeup techniques he developed earned him the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Faces."


Early life
Leonidas Frank Chaney was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Frank H. Chaney and Emma Alice Kennedy; his father had mostly English and some French ancestry, and his mother was of Scottish, English, and Irish descent. Her father, Jonathan Ralston Kennedy, founded the "Colorado School for the Education of Mutes" (now, Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind) in 1874, and Chaney's parents met there. Both of Chaney's parents were deaf, and as a child of deaf adults Chaney became skilled in pantomime. He entered a stage career in 1902, and began traveling with popular Vaudeville and theater acts. In 1905, Chaney, then 22, met and married 16-year-old singer Cleva Creighton (Frances Cleveland Creighton) and in 1906, their only child, a son, Creighton Tull Chaney (later known as Lon Chaney, Jr.) was born. The Chaneys continued touring, settling in California in 1910.

Marital troubles developed and on April 30, 1913, Cleva went to the Majestic Theater in downtown Los Angeles, where Lon was managing the Kolb and Dill show, and attempted suicide by swallowing mercuric chloride. The suicide attempt failed but it ruined her singing career as a result; the ensuing scandal and divorce forced Chaney out of the theater and into film.

The time spent there is not clearly known, but between the years 1912 and 1917, Chaney worked under contract for Universal Studios doing bit or character parts. His skill with makeup gained him many parts in the highly competitive casting atmosphere. During this time, Chaney befriended the husband-wife director team of Joe De Grasse and Ida May Park, who gave him substantial roles in their pictures, and further encouraged him to play macabre characters.

Chaney married one of his former colleagues in the Kolb and Dill company tour, a chorus girl named Hazel Hastings. Little is known of Hazel, except that her marriage to Chaney was solid. Upon marrying, the new couple gained custody of Chaney's 10-year-old son Creighton, who had resided in various homes and boarding schools since Chaney's divorce from Cleva in 1913.


By 1917 Chaney was a prominent actor in the studio, but his salary did not reflect this status. When Chaney asked for a raise, studio executive William Sistrom replied, "You'll never be worth more than one hundred dollars a week."

After leaving the studio, Chaney struggled for the first year as a character actor. It was not until 1918 when playing a substantial role in William S. Hart's picture, Riddle Gawne, that Chaney's talents as a character actor were truly recognized by the industry.

In 1917 Universal presented Chaney, Dorothy Phillips, and William Stowell as a team in The Piper's Price. In succeeding films, the men alternated playing lover, villain, or other man to the beautiful Phillips. They would occasionally be joined by Claire DuBrey nearly making the trio a quartet of recurring actors from film to film. So successful were the films starring this group that Universal produced fourteen films from 1917 to 1919 with Chaney, Stowell, and Phillips. The films were usually directed by Joe De Grasse or his wife Ida May Park, both friends of Chaney's at Universal. When Chaney was away branching out on films such as Riddle Gawne and The Kaiser, Beast of Berlin, Stowell and Phillips would continue on as a duo until Chaney's return. Stowell and Phillips made The Heart of Humanity (1918), bringing in Erich von Stroheim for a part as the villain that could easily have been played by Chaney. Paid in Advance (1919) was the group's last film together, for the chiseled featured Stowell was sent to Africa by Universal to scout locations for a movie. En route from one city to another, Stowell was in the caboose when it was hit by the locomotive from another train; he was killed instantly. The majority of these films are lost but a few, including Triumph and Paid in Advance survive in private collections or unrestored in European or Russian archives.

In 1919, Chaney had a breakthrough performance as "The Frog" in George Loane Tucker's The Miracle Man. The film displayed not only Chaney's acting ability, but also his talent as a master of makeup. Critical praise and a gross of over $2 million put Chaney on the map as America's foremost character actor.

He exhibited great adaptability with makeup in more conventional crime and adventure films, such as The Penalty, in which he played an amputee gangster. Chaney appeared in 10 films directed by Tod Browning, often portraying disguised and/or mutilated characters, including carnival knife-thrower Alonzo the Armless in The Unknown (1927) opposite Joan Crawford. In 1927, Chaney also co-starred with Conrad Nagel, Marceline Day, Henry B. Walthall and Polly Moran in the Tod Browning horror film, London After Midnight, considered one of the most legendary lost films. His final cinema role was a sound remake of his silent classic The Unholy Three (1930), his only "talkie" and the only film in which Chaney utilized his versatile voice. The actor signed a sworn statement declaring that five of the key voices in the film (the ventriloquist, the old woman, a parrot, the dummy and the girl) were his own.

In Quasimodo, the bell ringer of Notre Dame, and Erik, the "phantom" of the Paris Opera House, Chaney created two of the most grotesquely deformed characters in film history. However, the portrayals sought to elicit a degree of sympathy and pathos among viewers not overwhelmingly terrified or repulsed by the monstrous disfigurements of these victims of fate.

"I wanted to remind people that the lowest types of humanity may have within them the capacity for supreme self-sacrifice," Chaney wrote in an autobiographical article published in 1925 in Movie magazine. "The dwarfed, misshapen beggar of the streets may have the noblest ideals. Most of my roles since The Hunchback, such as The Phantom of the Opera, He Who Gets Slapped, The Unholy Three, etc., have carried the theme of self-sacrifice or renunciation. These are the stories which I wish to do."

"He was someone who acted out our psyches. He somehow got into the shadows inside our bodies; he was able to nail down some of our secret fears and put them on-screen," Ray Bradbury once explained. "The history of Lon Chaney is the history of unrequited loves. He brings that part of you out into the open, because you fear that you are not loved, you fear that you never will be loved, you fear there is some part of you that's grotesque, that the world will turn away from."

In his 1925 Movie magazine article, Chaney referred to his expertise in both make-up and contorting his body to portray his subjects as "extraordinary characterization." Chaney's talents extended beyond the horror genre and stage makeup. He was also a highly skilled dancer, singer and comedian. Many who did not know Chaney were surprised by his rich baritone voice and his sharp comedic skills.

Chaney and his second wife Hazel led a discreet private life distant from the Hollywood social scene. Chaney did minimal promotional work for his films and for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, purposefully fostering a mysterious image, and he reportedly intentionally avoided the social scene in Hollywood.

In the final five years of his film career (1925–1930), Chaney worked exclusively under contract to MGM, giving some of his most memorable performances. His portrayal of a tough-as-nails marine drill instructor in Tell It to the Marines (1926), one of his favorite films, earned him the affection of the Marine Corps, who made him their first honorary member from the motion picture industry. He also earned the respect and admiration of numerous aspiring actors, to whom he offered mentoring assistance, and between takes on film sets he was always willing to share his professional observations with the cast and crew.


During the filming of Thunder in the winter of 1929, Chaney developed pneumonia. In late 1929 he was diagnosed with bronchial lung cancer. This was exacerbated when artificial snow, made out of cornflakes, lodged in his throat during filming and quickly created a serious infection. Despite aggressive treatment, his condition gradually worsened, and seven weeks after the release of the remake of The Unholy Three, he died of a throat hemorrhage on August 26, 1930. His death was deeply mourned by his family, the film industry, and his fans. The US Marine Corps provided a chaplain and Honor Guard for his funeral. He was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, in Glendale, California, next to the crypt of his father. His wife Hazel was interred there upon her death in 1933. For unknown reasons, Chaney's crypt has remained unmarked.

^ Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Embracing Events, Institutions, Industries, Counties, Cities, Towns, Prominent Persons, etc. edited by Frank W. Blackmar c. 1912 pp.496–498

^ Mysteries and Scandals - Lon Chaney (Season 3, Episode 34). 2000. E!.

^ "Mrs. Lon Chaney Dies. Before Her Husband Entered the Movies She Was Well Known In Vaudeville.". New York Times. November 1, 1933.

^ Internet Movie Database, ; film listings on Lon Chaney, William Stowell, Dorothy Phillips & Claire Dubrey

^ Pictorial History of the Silent Screen, by Daniel Blum c. 1953 p.141; scene from Triumph (1917), description ...Phillips has hand on Chaney's head embracing him while Stowell reads paperwork on desk

^ Silents are Golden

^ Dick, Bernard F., City of Dreams: The Making and Remaking of Universal Pictures. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1997, pp. 52-55

^ Schickel, Richard (1962). The Stars. New York: Bonanza Books, a division of Crown Publishers, Inc. p. 133.

Usually with

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Pauline Bush
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Ida May Park
Ida May Park
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Allan Dwan
Allan Dwan
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Source : Wikidata

Filmography of Lon Chaney (163 films)

Display filmography as list


Chicken with Plums, 1h31
Directed by Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud
Origin France
Genres Drama, Comedy, Comedy-drama, Romance
Themes Films about music and musicians, Films about suicide, Violon
Actors Mathieu Amalric, Édouard Baer, Maria de Medeiros, Golshifteh Farahani, Éric Caravaca, Jamel Debbouze
Rating69% 3.4996853.4996853.4996853.4996853.499685
As a young man, violinist Nasser Ali Khan (Mathieu Amalric) falls in love with Irâne (Golshifteh Farahani), the beautiful daughter of a wealthy shopkeeper. Her father forbids them to marry, convinced that an artist could never financially support his daughter. The dismayed musician could only carry on because his mentor gave him a special violin and advised him to sublimate his affliction. Consequently, he became a renowned artist and eventually married another woman. Nonetheless in his mind he is still with Irâne. When his lack of affection for his family leads to serious dispute between him and his wife she destroys his beloved violin. It strikes him he is no longer up to make music as he did before and therefore he is longing for death. After rejecting more conventional methods of suicide, he decides to simply lie in bed until death will have him. As he awaits the arrival of death, he is awash in visions of the past and the film lets the spectator accompany him on this bizarre and strangely beautiful journey.
Hollywood Story, 1h16
Directed by William Castle, Frederick Kohner
Origin USA
Genres Thriller, Noir, Crime
Actors Richard Conte, Julie Adams, Richard Egan, Henry Hull, Fred Clark, Jim Backus
Roles The Phantom (archive footage) (uncredited)
Rating66% 3.3387953.3387953.3387953.3387953.338795
New York theatrical producer Larry O'Brien (Conte) plans to found a motion picture company in Hollywood. He buys an old studio which was unused since the days of silent movies. There he's shown the office where a famous director was murdered twenty years earlier. Although there were many suspects the case hasn't been solved. O'Brian becomes fascinated by the subject and decides to make a film based on the case. To this end he begins interviewing the surviving participants and soon gets into danger himself. In the end it turns out that the murderer is the victim's jealous brother.
The Unholy Three, 1h12
Directed by Jack Conway
Origin USA
Genres Drama, Crime, Romance
Themes Films about sexuality, LGBT-related film, Cross-dressing in film
Actors Lon Chaney, Lila Lee, Elliott Nugent, Harry Earles, Clarence Burton, John Miljan
Roles Professor Echo / Grandma O'Grady
Rating67% 3.3933553.3933553.3933553.3933553.393355
A sideshow is closed by the police after Tweedledee (Harry Earles), the embittered "Twenty Inch Man", kicks a baby, starting a riot. Echo, the ventriloquist, proposes that Tweedledee, the strongman Hercules (Ivan Linow), and he leave and, as "The Unholy Three", use their talents to commit crimes. Echo also takes along his pickpocket girlfriend Rosie (Lila Lee) and his gorilla, whom Hercules fears.
Thunder (1929)
, 1h26
Directed by William Nigh
Origin USA
Genres Drama
Themes Transport films, Rail transport films
Actors Lon Chaney, Phyllis Haver, James Murray, Tom Keene, Wally Albright
Roles Grumpy Anderson

Lon Chaney plays Grumpy Anderson, a railroad engineer with an obsession for running his train on time. His slavishness to promptness causes several tragedies which alienate him from his family. Fortunately, by the story's end, the engineer restores their faith in him and validates his obsession by forcing his train through a flood to bring badly needed Red Cross supplies to the victims.
Where East  Is East, 1h5
Directed by Tod Browning
Origin USA
Genres Drama, Melodrama, Romance
Actors Lon Chaney, Lupe Vélez, Estelle Taylor, Lloyd Hughes, Willie Fung, Richard Neill
Roles Tiger Haynes
Rating66% 3.340153.340153.340153.340153.34015
Tiger Haynes traps wild animals for a living, and bears the scars of his dangerous occupation on his face. He cares for only one thing in life: his beloved daughter, Toyo. When he returns to the city of Vien-Tien from his latest foray in the jungle, Toyo tells him that she and Bobby Bailey, the son of an American circus owner (one of Tiger's best customers), have fallen in love and are engaged. Initially opposed to the union, Tiger gives them his blessing after Bobby protects the girl from a tiger that has gotten loose.
The Big City
Directed by Tod Browning
Origin USA
Genres Drama, Crime
Actors Lon Chaney, Betty Compson, Matthew Betz, Marceline Day, John George, James Murray
Roles Chuck Collins
Rating68% 3.4020253.4020253.4020253.4020253.402025
Propriétaire d'une boîte de nuit, le gangster Chuck Collins a trouvé un bon moyen pour éloigner les soupçons de la police : dissimuler son butin dans la boutique d'une voisine. Mais Collins a aussi des problèmes avec son rival Curly, le chef d'une bande de gangsters.
Laugh, Clown, Laugh, 1h13
Directed by Herbert Brenon
Origin USA
Genres Drama
Themes Circus films, Films based on plays
Actors Lon Chaney, Bernard Siegel, Loretta Young, Nils Asther, Cissy Fitzgerald, Gwen Lee
Roles Tito Beppi
Rating76% 3.8405653.8405653.8405653.8405653.840565
Tito (Lon Chaney), a traveling circus clown, finds an abandoned child. Tito adopts her and raises her as his daughter, naming her Simonetta after his brother Simon (Bernard Siegel). One day the now teen-aged Simonetta (Loretta Young) encounters Luigi (Nils Asther), a wealthy man who falls madly in love with her, but upon seeing that he already has a girlfriend, she rejects him. She returns home to the circus and Tito suddenly realizes she is no longer a child. Tito further realizes he has feelings for Simonetta, but also knows his feelings are improper because he raised her as his daughter.
West of Zanzibar, 1h5
Directed by Tod Browning
Origin USA
Genres Drama
Themes Films set in Africa, Films about magic and magicians, Théâtre, Films based on plays
Actors Lon Chaney, Lionel Barrymore, Mary Nolan, Warner Baxter, Jacqueline Gadsden, Kalla Pasha
Roles Phroso 'Dead-Legs'
Rating73% 3.6897553.6897553.6897553.6897553.689755
Anna (Jacqueline Gadsden) cannot bring herself to tell her professional magician husband, Phroso (Lon Chaney), that she is leaving him. Her lover, Crane (Lionel Barrymore), informs Phroso that he is taking Anna to Africa, shoving the distraught husband away so forcefully that he falls over a railing and is crippled, losing the use of his legs. After a year, Phroso learns that Anna has returned. He finds his wife dead in a church, with a baby beside her. He swears to avenge himself on both Crane and the child.
While the City Sleeps, 1h10
Directed by Jack Conway
Origin USA
Genres Drama, Crime
Themes Gangster films
Actors Lon Chaney, Anita Page, Carroll Nye, Wheeler Oakman, Mae Busch, Polly Moran
Roles Dan Coghlan
Rating66% 3.319743.319743.319743.319743.31974
The film focuses on the 'Plain Clothes Men', a group of detectives dressed up as average citizens to catch criminals without being noticed. They are especially hated by the underworld due to their constant meeting, during which suspects are analyzed and interrogated extensively. Among the staff is Dan Coghlan (Lon Chaney), a police officer with flat feet and a tough disposition, who is unsatisfied with the lack of adventure. As he is about to quit his job, he is noticed about a croaked jeweler. When arriving there, he finds Skeeter Carlson (Wheeler Oakman), a crook who never gets busted for a crime due to a lack of evidence.
The Unknown, 1h5
Directed by Tod Browning
Origin USA
Genres Drama, Thriller, Horror, Romance
Themes Circus films
Actors Lon Chaney, Norman Kerry, Joan Crawford, Nick De Ruiz, John George, Frank Lanning
Roles Alonzo the Armless
Rating77% 3.897243.897243.897243.897243.89724
Alonzo the Armless is a circus freak who uses his feet to toss knives and fire a rifle at his partner, Nanon. However, he is an impostor and fugitive. He has arms, but keeps them tightly bound to his torso, a secret known only to his friend Cojo, a midget. Alonzo's left hand has a double thumb, which would identify him as the perpetrator of various crimes.
London After Midnight, 1h9
Directed by Tod Browning
Origin USA
Genres Drama, Fantastic, Horror, Crime
Themes Films about magic and magicians, Ghost films, Vampires in film
Actors Lon Chaney, Marceline Day, Conrad Nagel, Henry B. Walthall, Polly Moran, Claude King
Roles Professor Edward C. Burke
Rating68% 3.4426953.4426953.4426953.4426953.442695
The setting of the film is 1920s London. Sir Roger Balfour is found shot to death in his home. Inspector Burke (Lon Chaney) of Scotland Yard is called in to investigate. The suspects are Williams (the butler), Sir James Hamlin (Henry B. Walthall) and his nephew, Arthur Hibbs (Conrad Nagel). A suicide note is found and the case is supposedly closed.
Mr. Wu
Mr. Wu (1927)
, 1h30
Directed by William Nigh
Origin USA
Genres Drama
Actors Lon Chaney, Louise Dresser, Renée Adorée, Holmes Herbert, Ralph Forbes, Gertrude Olmstead
Roles Mr. Wu / Wu's Grandfather
Rating63% 3.193443.193443.193443.193443.19344
In the prologue, Chaney plays Grandfather Wu, entrusting his grandson's education to a trusted English associate, stating "The West is coming to the East. He [my heir] must be prepared for both." Chaney also plays the part of the grandson as a young man who enters an arranged marriage with a delicate girl who dies after giving birth to a daughter. Wu swears he will raise the child as a daughter and a son.
The Blackbird, 1h20
Directed by Tod Browning
Origin USA
Genres Drama, Crime, Romance
Actors Lon Chaney, Owen Moore, Renée Adorée, Doris Lloyd, Sidney Bracey, Ernie Adams
Roles The Blackbird / The Bishop
Rating68% 3.4371553.4371553.4371553.4371553.437155
The Blackbird (Lon Chaney) is a thief who uses a second identity when necessary: a rescue mission keeper with contorted legs, known as his bishop brother The Bishop. He lives above a cheap bar in the Limehouse district, where his alter ego The Bishop is beloved among all guests, unlike The Blackbird himself. One evenings, the police drops by looking for him after a robbery, and he flees to a vaudeville theater, where his ex-wife Limehouse Polly (Doris Lloyd) has an act. Since their divorce they have become bitter towards one another, but Polly is willing to admit that she once married The Blackbird 'because she saw the soul in him that he did not know he got himself'. Furthermore, she admits to her father that she is still in love with him.