Lon Chaney Jr. Poster


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Overview (5)

Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
Died in San Clemente, California, USA  (beriberi and liver failure)
Birth NameCreighton Tull Chaney
Nickname The Prince of Pain
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

American character actor whose career was influenced (and often overshadowed) by that of his father, silent film star Lon Chaney. The younger Chaney was born while his parents were on a theatrical tour, and he joined them onstage for the first time at the age of six months. However, as a young man, even during the time of his father's growing fame, Creighton Chaney worked menial jobs to support himself without calling upon his father. He was at various times a plumber, a meatcutter's apprentice, a metal worker, and a farm worker. Always, however, there was the desire to follow in his father's footsteps. He studied makeup at his father's side, learning many of the techniques that had made his father famous. And he took stage roles in stock companies. It was not until after his father's death in 1930 that Chaney went to work in films. His first appearances were under his real name (he had been named for his mother, singer Frances Chaney). He played number of supporting parts before a producer in 1935 insisted on changing his name to Lon Chaney Jr. as a marketing ploy. Chaney was uncomfortable with the ploy and always hated the "Jr". addendum. But he was also aware that the famous name could help his career, and so he kept it. Most of the parts he played were unmemorable, often bits, until 1939 when he was given the role of the simple-minded Lennie in the film adaptation of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men (1939). Chaney's performance was spectacularly touching; indeed, it became one of the two roles for which he would always be best remembered. The other came within the next year, when Universal, in hopes of reviving their horror film franchise as well as memories of their great silent star, Chaney Sr., cast Chaney as the tortured Lawrence Talbot in The Wolf Man (1941). With this film and the slew of horror films that followed it, Chaney achieved a kind of stardom, though he was never able to achieve his goal of surpassing his father. By the 1950s, he was established as a star in low-budget horror films and as a reliable character actor in more prestigious, big-budget films such as High Noon (1952). Never as versatile as his father, he fell more and more into cheap and mundane productions which traded primarily on his name and those of other fading horror stars. His later years were bedeviled by illness and problems with alcohol. When he died from a variety of causes in 1973, it was as an actor who had spent his life chasing the fame of his father, but who was much beloved by a generation of filmgoers who had never seen his father.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Spouse (2)

Patsy Beck (1 October 1937 - 12 July 1973) (his death)
Dorothy Marie Hinckley (17 April 1926 - 24 July 1937) (divorced) (2 children)

Trade Mark (10)

Deep baritone voice
Often played hulking monsters or victims of mad scientists
Often played tormented characters
Often played sympathetic characters
Often played the average, everyday man
Heavy eyebrows
His large, bearlike build
Frequently portrayed father figures, particularly in his later years
Friendly teddy bear face
Was a friendly person, despite playing many villains in horror movies

Trivia (35)

Son of Lon Chaney.
His career suffered in his later years due to alcoholism.
Attempted an early career as a songwriter.
He was the only person to have played all four of the classic movie monsters: The Wolf Man (1941) (Larry Talbot/The Wolf Man); The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) (Frankenstein's Monster); The Mummy's Tomb (1942) (Kharis, the mummy); Son of Dracula (1943) (Count Anthony Alucard, Dracula's son).
Pictured on one of a set of five 32¢ US commemorative postage stamps, issued 30 September 1997, celebrating "Famous Movie Monsters". He is shown as the title character in The Wolf Man (1941). Other actors honored in this set of stamps, and the classic monsters they portray, are Lon Chaney as The Phantom of the Opera (1925); Bela Lugosi as Dracula (1931); and Boris Karloff on two stamps as The Mummy (1932) and the monster in Frankenstein (1931).
Broderick Crawford, who had played Chaney's role of Lennie in "Of Mice and Men" on Broadway in 1937, worked with Chaney at one time and shared a dressing room with him. Apparently, both men were such heavy drinkers that they would get drunk together and take turns beating each other up.
Well-known character actor William Smith started out as a child actor, and in an interview with a horror-film magazine stated that during breaks on the set of The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Chaney treated all of the children on the set to ice cream.
From his father, he developed skills as a makeup artist. He was not able to make much use of these skills due to strict union rules.
Had two sons with his wife Dorothy Hinckley: Lon Ralph (born July 3, 1928) and Ronald Creighton (born March 18, 1930).
His father told him he was too tall for a successful career in film.
His favorite role was that of Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men (1939). After a few drinks at parties, he would recite scenes from that film.
Like his father, he often refused requests for autographs, though when he did sign he usually wrote "Luck, Lon Chaney", using a very large "L" as the first letter for both "Luck" and "Lon".
Was possibly not as tall as is often reported. According to Calvin Thomas Beck in "Heroes of the Horrors" (Macmillan, 1975), Chaney wore special shoes in Of Mice and Men (1939) to increase his height by six inches. Beck writes, "In reality, he was just six feet tall." According to Beck, Chaney said that "from that film on, people thought I was much taller" (Beck, p. 235). Early publicity accounts from the 1930s describe Chaney as a strapping six-footer. In Gregory W. Mank's books, Chaney is described as being 6'2" (though Mank reproduces press material for The Wolf Man (1941) which describes Chaney as being five inches taller than Claude Rains, who was 5'7").
He was born prematurely, only 2-1/2 pounds at birth. The illnesses he suffered at the end of his life may have been partially the result of this. In fact, he was born, in his own words, "black and dead". His father took him outside to an ice-covered lake, broke the ice and put him into the ice-cold water to jump-start his breathing. However, according to his son Lon Ralph Chaney as well as Cleva's daughter by her second marriage, Stella George, the story is complete fiction.
In 1930, he lived at 735 North Laurel Avenue, Los Angeles, while working as an advertising manager for a water-heater company.
Was mentioned in Warren Zevon's classic song "Werewolves of London".
Was an avid hunter/outdoorsman.
He only officially played the role of Frankenstein's Monster twice: once in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) and then again in an episode of the television series Tales of Tomorrow (1951). It wasn't until 1957 when the 1931 version of Frankenstein (1931) staring Boris Karloff would debut on television. Also in 1957, Christopher Lee would assume the role of the monster in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). Chaney played the role "unofficially" twice for Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) in which he stood in for Glenn Strange for one scene while Strange recovered from a broken ankle, and for an episode of The Colgate Comedy Hour (1950) where, in a mock-opera sketch, Chaney appears (for some reason) in full monster regalia and dances a Charleston with Lou Costello, then hangs around for the finale. Shortly before his death, Chaney complained in an interview that the serious horror film genre had been ruined by Abbott and Costello.
His last film might have been in Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask (1972). In "Conversations With Woody Allen" by Eric Lax, Allen recalls feeling like a fan, "sitting across from the Wolf Man!" as he interviewed Chaney for a role. Chaney did not appear in the final cut, and died the year after it was released.
Grandfather of Ron Chaney.
The six-foot-tall Chaney wanted to play football in Hollywood High School but was turned down because he only weighed 125 pounds.
Fay Wray and Joel McCrea were classmates of his at Hollywood High School.
Often he would accompany his father Lon Chaney to the studio and wait for the trolley on a bench at the corner of Hollywood and Vine. After the bench was removed years later, a special memorial to his father replaced it.
When Broderick Crawford left the stage production of "Of Mice and Men", Chaney was eager to play the role. He credits the kindness of Wallace Ford, the original "George", for getting him the role, which, of course, led to the 1939 screen version (Of Mice and Men (1939)) and eventual stardom.
He wanted to reprise his father's 1923 role of Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and underwent a screen test for the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), but the role went to Charles Laughton. Chaney did recreate it in an episode of the television series Route 66 (1960).
Like his father, Chaney created his own make-up for the role of Akhoba in One Million B.C. (1940), but union regulations forced him to abandon it.
His scheduled ten-day tour on behalf of Bride of the Gorilla (1951) spiraled to 4-1/2 months and covered 4500 miles.
He made headlines in the 1960s when he criticized "Fractured Flickers" for desecrating old film classics like his father's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923).
He was posthumously awarded a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars on January 11, 1999.
He has three roles in common with Christopher Lee: (1) Chaney played Frankenstein's Monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) while Lee played him in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), (2) Chaney played Kharis the Mummy in The Mummy's Tomb (1942), The Mummy's Ghost (1944) and The Mummy's Curse (1944) while Lee played him in The Mummy (1959) and (3) Chaney played Count Dracula in Son of Dracula (1943) while Lee played him in ten films from Horror of Dracula (1958) to Dracula and Son (1976).
He has two roles in common with Bela Lugosi: (1) Lugosi played Count Dracula in Dracula (1931) and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) while Chaney played him in Son of Dracula (1943) and (2) Chaney played Frankenstein's Monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), in which Lugosi also appeared, while Lugosi played him in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), in which Chaney also appeared.
He appeared with John Carradine in thirteen films: This Is My Affair (1937),Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938), Submarine Patrol (1938) Jesse James (1939), Frontier Marshal (1939), House of Frankenstein (1944), The Mummy's Ghost (1944), House of Dracula (1945), Casanova's Big Night (1954), The Black Sleep (1956), House of the Black Death (1965), Gallery of Horror (1967) and Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967).
Battled throat cancer and heart disease in later years.
Near the end of his life, he made an appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. He claimed that his weak voice was the result of his playfully growling at children at Halloween. In reality, he was suffering from throat cancer.

Personal Quotes (5)

My father would be horrified if he knew I was making it in the pictures and that I'm not billed as Creighton Chaney.
I am most proud of the name Lon Chaney. I am not proud of Lon Chaney Jr., because they had to starve me to make me take this name.
Nothing is more natural to me than horror.
All the best of the monsters played for sympathy. That goes for my father, [Lon Chaney], myself and all the others. They all won the audience's sympathy. The Wolf Man didn't want to do all those bad things. He was forced into them.
The trouble with most of the monster pictures today is that they go after horror for horror's sake. There's no motivation for how monsters behave. There's too much of that science-fiction baloney.

Salary (3)

Bird of Paradise (1932) $200 @week
The Last Frontier (1932) $200 @week
Gallery of Horror (1967) $1,500

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