Lon Chaney (Lon Chaney)

Lon Chaney

Actor. He moved from the stage to the screen in 1912, gradually getting more important parts, until his work in the 1919 film ‘The Miracle Worker’ established his reputation as one of the best character actors in Hollywood. Four years later, in 1923, his reputation increased even more with the release of ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame,’ in which he played Quasimodo. He was no longer regarded as a mere character actor but a major star in his own right. For many of his films, his appearance was distorted by grotesque makeup, costumes, disguises, and physical modifications. This earned him the nickname “The Man of a Thousand Faces.” These were all his own creations, as he applied and thought up his own makeup. Though he was known as a horror actor because of films such as ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (1925), ‘The Unknown’ (1927), and ‘London After Midnight’ (1927), most of his films were not horror movies. He played relatively straight roles in such films as ‘Tell It to the Marines’ (1926), ‘All the Brothers Were Valiant’ (1923), ‘While the City Sleeps’ (1928), and ‘The Ace of Hearts’ (1921). Because his parents were deaf-mutes, he was very adept at pantomimic acting and had keen empathy for those who were different. This empathy for societal outcasts and people who didn’t conform to society’s “norm” seemed to have been the secret of his success at playing so many societal outcasts and evoking audience sympathy for people they otherwise might not have looked very kindly upon. He was also noted for his kindness and generosity to people who were just getting started in the acting business. Chaney was married twice; his first marriage, to Cleva Creighton, produced his only child, Creighton, who later took on the name Lon Chaney, Jr. and became a successful actor in his own right. This marriage ended in divorce, and he soon remarried to Hazel Hastings. His second marriage proved to be much more stable and successful. Chaney was one of the last major stars to make a sound film. In 1930 he starred in a remake of his 1925 hit ‘The Unholy Three.’ Many posters advertised it with the slogan, “The Man of a Thousand Faces is now the Man of a Thousand Voices!” In this film, he did five voices—those of a parrot, an old woman, a girl, a ventriloquist, and the ventriloquist’s dummy. His voice work was such that he had to sign an affidavit affirming that he had done all of the voices himself instead of using voice doubles. This remake of ‘The Unholy Three’ was to be his last film; a month and a half after it was released, he died of throat cancer at the age of forty-seven. Many people have speculated that his cancer was caused when a piece of artificial snow, made of crushed gypsum, got stuck in his throat during the filming of his 1929 movie ‘Thunder,’ but since Chaney was a heavy smoker, it seems more likely that this incident just made the outcome come sooner than it otherwise might have. (bio by: Carrie-Anne)  Family links:  Parents:  Frank H Chaney (1852 – 1927)  Emma Alice Kennedy Chaney (1855 – 1914)  Spouses:  Hazel Bennett Hastings Chaney (1887 – 1933)*  Frances Cleveland Creighton Chaney (1889 – 1967)*  Children:  Lon Chaney (1906 – 1973)*  Sibling:  Lon Chaney (1883 – 1930)  Earl Chaney (1887 – 1887)* *Calculated relationshipCause of death: Cancer


  • April, 01, 1883
  • USA


  • August, 08, 1930
  • USA

Cause of Death

  • Cancer


  • Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
  • California
  • USA

2435 profile views