TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (18)
|Also Known As:||Leonidas F Chaney||Died:||August 26, 1930|
|Born:||April 1, 1883||Cause of Death:||bronchial cancer|
|Birth Place:||Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actor director screenwriter scene painter property boy playwright stagehand tour guide|
Dubbed 'The Man of a Thousand Faces' and the first great master of horror before it became a formalized genre in the 1930s. The child of deaf-mute parents, Chaney learned the expressive use of pantomime to communicate, and developed a remarkable sensitivity to the pain of the outsider which added humanity and pathos to the gallery of grotesque and deformed characters which he created. After a brief career in theater as a comic, dancer and stage hand, he went to Hollywood in 1912 and appeared in numerous shorts and features (some by Allan Dwan) as Western villains and "exotics" (often as more than one character in a film) before starring in his first of many collaborations with horror master, Tod Browning, "The Wicked Darling" and winning recognition in his first major role, as a bogus cripple in "The Miracle Man" (both 1919). Renowned for his artistry with makeup and the great, almost masochistic, lengths he would go to create the grotesque bodies that hid the tortured, often sensitive and injured souls of his characters, Chaney bound his legs behind him and walked on his knees in "The Penalty" (1920), strapped his arms tightly to his body to play the part of an armless knife thrower in "The Unknown" (1927), and wore enormous painful teeth to create a vampire in "London After Midnight" (1927; in which he also played a detective). In "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1923) he wore a 40lb-hunch in a 30lb harness strapped to his back, covered his eyeball with an eggshell membrane to look sightless, and contorted his body in a straightjacket. (When he appeared in "Tell It To the Marines" in 1926 without any makeup, one critic wrote that he didn't look quite natural.) More than merely a master of disguise and horror, Chaney's genius was in communicating the man behind the monster: the hunger for acceptance, the unrequited love and sexual frustration, and the pain caused by society's cruelty that fuels his monsters' desire for revenge, which is most eloquently conveyed in his definitive "Phantom of the Opera" (1925). His son, Creighton, a novice in films when his father died, changed his name to Lon Chaney Jr and worked mainly in B horror films, but it was James Cagney who played Chaney Sr in his film biography, "The Man of 1,000 Faces" (1957).
JStafford ( 2006-03-23 )
Source: Movie Star Homes: The Famous to the Forgotten (Santa Monica Press) by Judy Artunian and Mike Oldham.
Lon Chaney's final place of residence was not a house but the Beverly Wilshire Hotel (now known as the Regent Beverly Wilshire). He and his family were living there while their new home in Beverly Hills was being built. Unfortunately, Chaney died of lung cancer before he could move in. (Source) Movie Star Homes: The Famous to the Forgotten (Santa Monica Press) by Judy Artunian and Mike Oldham
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