Lon Chaney

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Lon Chaney

Lon Chaney (April 1, 1883 – August 26, 1930), nicknamed “ The Man with the Many Faces “, was an American actor during the era of the silent cinema. Considered one of the most versatile actors in the early days of cinema, he is remembered mainly for his interpretations of tortured, often grotesque and afflicted characters, and for his ability to make up.

Lon_Chaney’s Biography

Lon Chaney was born with the name of Leonidas Frank Chaney in Colorado Springs, Colorado, son of Frank Chaney and Emma Alice Kennedy; his father was of mainly English descent with some French contribution, and his mother was of Irish descent. Both parents were deaf, so Chaney learned as a child to communicate by pantomime. In 1902 he began his career on stage, and traveled with popular theater and vaudeville actors. In 1905 he met and married the singer Cleva Creighton and in 1906 his first and only child was born: Creighton Chaney (aka Lon Chaney Jr.). The Chaneys continued on tour until they settled in California in 1910.

Unfortunately there were marital problems and, in April 1913, Cleva went to the Majestic Theater, located in downtown Los Angeles, where Lon was directing Kolb and Dill. There, she tried to commit suicide by ingesting mercury bichloride.The suicide attempt failed and ruined her career as a singer; the resulting scandal and divorce forced Chaney to leave the theater and pursue films.

The time he spent there is unknown, but between 1912 and 1917, Chaney worked under contract for Universal Studios, with which he played small roles. At this time, Chaney became friends with the pair of directors Joe De Grasse and Ida May Park, who gave him more important works in their productions.

Chaney also became friends with William Dudley Pelley, who would later form the Silver Legion, a US Nazi organization. While in Hollywood, Pelley wrote sixteen screenplays, of which Chaney starred in two. In addition, Chaney was married to a former colleague of the Kolb and Dill tour, a girl named Hazel Hastings who sang in the choir of the play. Little is known about Hazel, except that her marriage to Chaney was solid. After they married, the couple obtained custody of Chaney’s son, who was already ten years old and had resided in several homes and boarding schools after Chaney’s divorce in 1913.

By 1917, Chaney was a major player in the studio although his salary did not reflect his status. When Chaney requested an increase, studio executive William Sistrom replied: “You’ll never be worth more than a hundred dollars a week.”

After leaving the studio, Chaney fought as an actor throughout his first year. It was not until 1918, when he played a considerable role in the film Riddle Gawne by William S. Hart, that Chaney’s talent as an actor began to be recognized by the film industry.

In 1919, Chaney performed an important performance as “The Frog” (a man who pretends to be a cripple who heals miraculously) in The Miracle Man (The Miracle Man) by George Loane Tucker. The film not only exhibited Chaney’s acting ability, but also his talent as a makeup master. The praise of the critics and a collection of more than 2 million US dollars put Chaney on the map as the main character actor of the United States.

Lon Chaney at Our Lady of Paris.

Lon Chaney in The Phantom of the Opera.

Chaney is remembered as a pioneer in silent horror films such as Our Lady of Paris) and, especially, by The Phantom of the Opera. His ability to transform himself through makeup techniques of his own invention earned him the nickname “The Man with the Many Faces”. In a 1925 autobiographical article published in the magazine Movie, Chaney referred to his specialty as “extreme characterization”.

She also demonstrated her adaptability with makeup in more conventional movies, crime and adventure, such as The Penalty, where she played a legless gangster. It appeared in several films directed by Tod Browning, where it used to interpret to disguised or mutilated personages, among them the knife thrower Alonzo the Without Arms in human Claws (The Unknown), with Joan Crawford. In 1927, Chaney starred opposite Conrad Nagel, Marceline Day, Henry B. Walthall and Polly Moran in Tod Browning’s horror classic The House of Horror (London After Midnight), which is perhaps the most famous lost film in history. His last film was a sound remake of the classic silent The fantastic trio (The Unholy Three) (1930), his only sound film and the only one in which he used his versatile voice. Chaney signed an affidavit stating that five of the main voices in the film (the ventriloquist, the old woman, the parrot, the doll and the girl) are actually his.

Although Chaney created two of the most grotesquely deformed characters in the history of cinema (Quasimodo, the bell-ringer of Notre Dame, and Erik, the “ghost” of the Paris Opera), his performances sought a reaction from sympathy and sadness among the audience and not terrify them or make them feel rejection towards those disfigured characters who were just victims of fate.

“I wanted to remind the audience that even those who are lower on the scale of humanity can have within themselves the capacity for sacrifice,” Chaney wrote in the magazine Movie. “The dwarfed and deformed beggar we see on the streets could have the noblest ideals, most of my roles from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, like The Phantom of the Opera, He Who Gets Slapped, The Fantastic Trio, etc., They have incorporated the theme of sacrifice and self-denial, and these are the stories I want to tell. “

“He was a person who reflected our psyches, somehow entered the shadows that exist within our bodies, he was able to unmask some of our innermost fears and bring them to the screen,” writer Ray Bradbury once explained. “Lon Chaney’s story is the story of unrequited love, he reveals that part of one, because one fears that they do not love him, one fears that they never love him, one fears that a part of him is grotesque, that the world turn your back on him. “

Chaney’s talents extended beyond the genre of horror and artistic make-up. He was also a very skilled dancer, singer and comedian. In fact, many people who did not know Chaney were surprised by his delicious baritone voice and his acute ability for comedy.

Chaney and his second wife, Hazel, led a discreet private life away from the social circle of Hollywood. Chaney minimally promoted his films and MGM studios, thus fueling his mystery image.

More Facts about Lon Chaney

The Lon Chaney’s statistics like age, body measurements, height, weight, bio, wiki, net worth posted above have been gathered from a lot of credible websites and online sources. But, there are a few factors that will affect the statistics, so, the above figures may not be 100% accurate.

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