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Freaks DVD Tod Browning's directorial masterpiece "Freaks" (1932) demonstrates the loving... more info $19.98was $19.98 Buy Now

Hollywood Legends Of Horror Collection... The horror! The horror! The six films included in this 3-disc set represent some... more info $39.98was $39.98 Buy Now

White Tiger DVD In this silent 1923 crime caper, Priscilla Dean, Matt Moore, and Raymond... more info $6.98was $6.98 Buy Now

The Unholy Three DVD Lon Chaney – the Man of a Thousand Faces – used his makeup skills, astonishing... more info $19.99was $19.99 Buy Now

Also Known As: Charles Albert Browning Jr. Died: October 6, 1962
Born: July 12, 1880 Cause of Death: cancer
Birth Place: Louisville, Kentucky, USA Profession: director, actor, screenwriter, producer, carnival barker, clown, comedian, dancer, singer, contortionist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL 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...

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.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Miracles for Sale (1939) Director
2.
  The Devil-Doll (1936) Director
3.
  Mark of the Vampire (1935) Director
4.
  Lazy River (1934) Dir of background photog
5.
  Fast Workers (1933) Director
6.
  Freaks (1932) Director
7.
  Dracula (1931) Director
8.
  Iron Man (1931) Director
9.
  Outside the Law (1930) Director
10.
  Where East Is East (1929) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 The Mother and the Law (1919) Owner of Racing Car
2.
 Intolerance (1916) Owner of Racing Car
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
As a child in Louisville, Kentucky, performed in and produced amateur theatricals
1896:
At age 16, joined the Manhattan Fair and Carnival Company; changed first name to Tod
:
Billed as "The Living Corpse" in one carnival act; would be buried alive for up to two days at a time
:
Briefly appeared as a clown with the Ringling Brothers Circus
:
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
1913:
Introduced to D W Griffith by former partner Charles Murray; joined Biograph Studios as a performer
1913:
Feature acting debut, had bit role as an undertaker in "Scenting a Terrible Crime", directed by Griffith
:
Moved to Hollywood with Griffith
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)
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"
1917:
Feature film directing debut, the Civil War romance "Jim Bludso"; co-directed with star Wilfred Lucas
1917:
Helmed several films for Metro, many with Edith Storey as star
1918:
Began directing for Bluebird Photoplays; later joined Universal by year's end
1918:
Initiated collaboration with actress Priscilla Dean with "Which Woman" and "The Brazen Beauty"
1918:
Received screenplay credit for "Set Free"; also directed
1919:
First collaboration with Lon Chaney, "The Wicked Darling", starring Priscilla Dean
1924:
Last film under Universal contract, "White Tiger"
:
Struggled with alcoholism for roughly two years
1925:
Career turned around after directing "The Unholy Three" for MGM; film starred Chaney, Victor McLaglen and Harry Earles
1926:
Helmed "The Black Bird", starring Chaney
1927:
Clashed with studio heads over "The Show", featuring John Gilbert and Chaney; dark subject matter (a circus sideshow) offended many critics
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
:
Loaned out to Universal
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
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
1933:
Reteamed with John Gilbert on "Fast Workers", a drama about construction workers that proved a flop
1936:
Directed the intriguing "The Devil Doll"
1939:
Last film, "Miracles for Sale"
1942:
Formally retired from filmmaking
1946:
Received screen credit for the story for "Inside Job"
:
Developed throat cancer in the 1950s and underwent an operation on his tongue
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Boys High School: Louisville , Kentucky -

Notes

"When I quit a thing, I quit. I wouldn't walk across the street now to see a movie." --quote attributed to Tod Browning at the time of his "retirement" from movie making in the early 1940s.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Alice L Browning. Actor. Born in 1887; married in June 1917; separated in the early 1920s; reconciled; died in 1944.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Charles Albert Browning.
mother:
Lydia Browing.
uncle:
Peter Browning. Baseball player. Reportedly the player for whom the "Louisville Slugger" baseball bat was created.
brother:
Avery Browning. Coal merchant. Older; died in 1959.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Dark Carnival: The Secret World of Tod Browning, Hollywood's Master of the Macbre" Anchor Books

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