Famous silent film
actor Lon Chaney was born Alonzo (Leonidas Frank) Chaney, in Colorado
Springs, Colorado, on April 1st, 1883. He was called "The
Man of a Thousand Faces", due to his uncanny ability to transform
himself into many types of characters through makeup and pantomime.
Few actors suffered as much physically for their craft as did
In one film he had his arms strapped tightly to
his body to play the part of an armless knife thrower. In another,
to look like a vampire, he wore a set of false teeth so enormous
that he was in constant pain during filming. In yet another film
he placed metal rings inside his eyelids to give himself a staring
Chaney was born the son of deaf-mute parents. His
effort to communicate with them was probably the chief reason
that he became so expert a pantomimist, and so perfect an actor
for the silent movie era. His brother owned a theater, so Chaney
found stage work early. He toured as a comic song and dance man
before attempting a screen career, starting in 1912. Chaney played
scores of minor parts, usually cast as a villain. His first big
break came in 1919's The Miracle Man, in which he
played a bogus cripple called "the Frog". His makeup
artistry was so inventive that he could play two parts in one
film, and the audience wouldn't recognize him. Lon Chaney's greatest
success came in two dramatic roles, The Hunchback Of Notre
Dame (1924) with Patsy Ruth Miller, and The Phantom
Of The Opera (1925), opposite lovely Mary Philbin. Other
memorable films of Chaney's include M-G-M's first feature, He
Who Gets Slapped (1924), opposite John Gilbert and Norma
Shearer, Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928), opposite teenager
Loretta Young and Nils Asther and The Unknown (1927),
opposite a young Joan Crawford.
Lon was married twice, to Frances Chaney, from 1905
till 1915, and then to Hazel Hastings, from 1915 until his death
in 1930. He had a son with Frances, named Lon Chaney Jr., who
also became a famous actor, mostly working in the horror genre.
Lon Chaney died of throat cancer on August 26th, 1930, after completing
his first talkie, a remake of his previous silent classic, "The
Unholy Three" (1930).
-Biography from Golden
Other Vital Statistics:
Real Name: Alonzo (Leonidas Frank) Chaney
Burial Place: Forest Lawn in Glendale, Ca. He is
in the Great Mausoleum in an unmarked crypt.
Some Trivia (From IMDB):
Lon Chaney was the original choice to play the lead
in Tod Browning's "Dracula".
Chaney appeared in 10 films directed by Tod Browning.
Mentioned in the Warren Zevon song "Werewolves
His knowledge of make-up was so vast that he wrote
the entry on the subject for an edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
He carried almost all the make-up he used in films
in a small leather case.
Official Chaney Web Site
Chaney on IMDB
the Features Page