clown is funny in the circus ring. But what would be the normal reaction to opening a door at midnight, and finding the same clown standing there in the moonlight?"

The original Man of a Thousand Faces, Leonidas Frank "Lon" Chaney had a brief but incredibly varied career. Born on April Fools' Day in 1883 to two deaf parents, he quickly developed a skill for pantomime. One early Hollywood acquaintance summed up his expressive features simply: "He had a deaf face."

Chaney first appeared onstage in 1902, he carved out a career in vaudeville, becoming known as a singer and dancer. Married to actress Cleva Creighton in 1905. Their only son, Creighton Chaney, would later go on to forge a film career of his own under the name of Lon Chaney Jr. The Chaneys divorced around 1913, after which Lon Sr. moved from the theater into film. Several years later, he would meet and marry Hazel Hastings, and they remained married for the rest of Chaney's life.

Though he worked steadily in film, acting and occasionally directing, his first real breakout role is widely considered to be "The Frog" in 1919's The Miracle Man. The next year, he proved his devotion to the craft with The Penalty, strapping his legs back behind him to play a double amputee crime lord. The restraints were so painful that he was unable to maintain the position for more than twenty minutes at a time. 1923 offered perhaps his second most famous role, that of Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He Who Gets Slapped and The Unholy Three are considered some of his best work, but his best known part (and make-up) is undoubtedly The Phantom of the Opera (1925).

One of his personal favorite performances was Tell It To The Marines. His tough but sympathetic Sgt. O'Hara was a hit with the real-life Corps, and he was the first member of the motion picture industry to be made an honorary member.

Chaney was an acknowledged master of film make-up, crafting memorable characters from little more than wire, putty and hair. He wrote the Encyclopaedia Britannica's article on make-up for an edition in the 1920s, and the leather case in which he carried his materials in is frequently displayed at the Los Angeles County Museum. A joke at the time involved pointing out a spider/bug/whatever on the floor and quipping "Don't step on that—it might be Lon Chaney."

Though he gained attention onstage as a song and dance man, the only film of his dancing is in the incomplete The Fascination of the Fleurde Lis. There are no known recordings of his singing, though friends and co-stars maintained he had an impressive baritone.

Chaney often went out of his way to help actors in the beginning of their career, and gave advice and early supporting roles to Noble Johnson and Boris Karloff. There is a story related by a very young Loretta Young who recalled having a terrible time on the set of one of her first films. The director, who was not shy about letting her know how much he disliked her, was always much more pleasant when Chaney, the biggest star in the picture, was nearby. Noticing this, Chaney made it a point to be on set constantly, advising her between takes or entertaining the other actors.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1929 and died the following year, just a few weeks after turning 47. His final picture was a remake of his own early movie The Unholy Three. It was also his only sound film, with Chaney providing five different voices. He is interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California, among many other entertainment legends such as Clark Gable and Michael Jackson. His father and second wife are interred nearby, but Chaney's crypt is unmarked.

in Films[edit]Edit

Title Role Release date Production company Notes
Poor Jake's Demise August 16, 1913[2] IMP - Universal[2]
The Sea Urchin Barnacle Bill[2] August 22, 1913[2] Powers - Universal[2]
The Blood Red Tape of Charity Jewish pawnbroker[2] September 26, 1913[2] Powers - Universal[2]
Shon the Piper Scottish clansman[2] September 30, 1913[2] 101-Bison - Universal[2]
The Trap October 3, 1913[2][note 1] Powers - Universal[2]
The Restless Spirit October 27, 1913[2] Victor - Universal[2]
An Elephant on His Hands Eddie[2] November 21, 1913[2] Nestor - Universal[2]
Almost an Actress The Cameraman[2] November 15, 1913[2] Joker - Universal[2]
Back to Life The Rival[2] November 24, 1913[2] Victor - Universal[2]
Red Margaret, Moonshiner Lon[2] December 9, 1913[2] Gold Seal - Universal[2]
Bloodhounds of the North Mountie[2] December 23, 1913[2] Gold Seal - Universal[2]
The Lie Young MacGregor[2] January 6, 1914[2] Gold Seal - Universal[2]
The Honor of the Mounted Jacques Laquox[2] February 17, 1914[2] Gold Seal - Universal[2]
Remember Mary Magdalen The Half-wit[2] February 23, 1914[2] Victor - Universal[2]
Discord and Harmony The Sculptor[2] March 17, 1914[2] Gold Seal - Universal[2]
The Menace to Carlotta Giovanni Bartholi[2] March 22, 1914[2] Rex - Universal[2]
The Embezzler J. Roger Dixon[2] March 31, 1914[2] Gold Seal - Universal[2]
The Lamb, the Woman, the Wolf The Wolf[2] April 4, 1914[2] 101-Bison - Universal[2]
The End of the Feud Wood Dawson[2] April 12, 1914[2] Rex - Universal[2]
The Tragedy of Whispering Creek The Greaser[2] May 2, 1914[2] 101-Bison - Universal[2]
The Unlawful Trade The Half-Breed[2] May 14, 1914[2] Rex - Universal[2]
The Forbidden Room John Morris[2] June 20, 1914[2] 101-Bison - Universal[2]
The Old Cobbler Wild Bill[2] June 27, 1914[2] 101-Bison - Universal[2]
The Hopes of Blind Alley Vendor[2] July 4, 1914[2] 101-Bison - Universal[2]
A Ranch Romance Raphael Praz[2] July 8, 1914[2] Nestor - Universal[2]
Her Grave Mistake Nunez[2] July 15, 1914[2] Nestor - Universal[2]
By the Sun's Rays Frank Lawler[2] July 22, 1914[2] Nestor - Universal[2]
The Oubliette Chevalier Bertrand De La Payne[2] August 15, 1914[2] 101-Bison - Universal[2]
A Miner's Romance John Burns[2] August 26, 1914[2] Nestor - Universal[2]
Her Bounty Fred Howard[2] September 13, 1914[2] Rex - Universal[2]
The Higher Law Sir Stephen[2] September 19, 1914[2] 101-Bison - Universal[2]
Richelieu Baradas[2] September 26, 1914[2] 101-Bison - Universal[2]
The Pipes o' Pan Arthur Farrell[2] October 4, 1914[2] Rex - Universal[2]
Virtue Is Its Own Reward Duncan Bronson[2] October 11, 1914[2] Rex - Universal[2]
Her Life's Story Don Valasquez October 15, 1914 Rex - Universal[2]
A Small Town Girl Procurer November 7, 1914 101-Bison - Universal[2]
Lights and Shadows Bentley November 29, 1914 Rex - Universal[2]
The Lion, the Lamb, the Man Fred December 6, 1914 Rex - Universal[2]
A Night of Thrills December 13, 1914 Rex - Universal[2]
Her Escape Pete December 13, 1914 Rex - Universal[2]
The Sin of Olga Brandt Stephen Leslie January 3, 1915 Rex - Universal[2]
The Star of the Sea Tomasco January 10, 1915 Rex - Universal[2]
The Measure of a Man Mountie Lt. Jim Stuart January 28, 1915 Rex - Universal[2]
The Threads of Fate The Count February 21, 1915 Rex - Universal[2]
When the Gods Played a Badger Game The Property Man February 28, 1915 Rex - Universal[2]
Such Is Life Tod Wilkes March 4, 1915 Rex - Universal[2]
Where the Forest Ends Paul Rouchelle March 7, 1915 Rex - Universal[2]
Outside the Gates Perez March 14, 1915 Rex - Universal[2]
All for Peggy The Stable Groom March 18, 1915 Rex - Universal[2]
The Desert Breed Fred March 28, 1915 Rex - Universal[2]
Maid of the Mist The Postmaster April 1, 1915 Rex - Universal[2]
The Girl of the Night April 8, 1915 Rex - Universal[2]
The Stool Pigeon - Directed - April 9, 1915 Victor - Universal[2]
The Grind
An Idyll of the Hills
The Stronger Mind
The Oyster Dredger
Steady Company
The Violin Maker
The Trust
Bound on the Wheel
Mountain Justice
The Chimney's Secret
The Pine's Revenge
The Fascination of the Fleur de Lis
Alas and Alack
A Mother's Atonement
Lon of Lone Mountain
The Millionaire Paupers
Under a Shadow
Stronger Than Death
Father and the Boys
Dolly's Scoop
The Grip of Jealousy
Tangled Hearts
The Gilded Spider
Bobbie of the Ballet
The Grasp of Greed
The Mark of Cain
If My Country Should Call
Felix on the Job
The Place Beyond the Winds
Accusing Evidence
The Price of Silence
The Piper's Price
Hell Morgan's Girl
The Mask of Love
The Girl in the Checkered Coat
The Flashlight
A Doll's House
Fires of Rebellion
The Rescue
Pay Me!
The Empty Gun
Anything Once
The Scarlet Car
Broadway Love
The Grand Passion
The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin
Fast Company
A Broadway Scandal
Riddle Gawne
That Devil, Bateese
The Talk of the Town
Danger, Go Slow
The Wicked Darling
Daredevil Jack
The False Faces
A Man's Country
Paid in Advance Bateese Le Blanc[2] November 30, 1919[2] Universal[2]
The Miracle Man
When Bearcat Went Dry
Treasure Island
The Gift Supreme
Nomads of the North
The Penalty
Outside the Law
Bits of Life
The Ace of Hearts
For Those We Love
The Trap
Voices of the City
Flesh and Blood
The Light in the Dark
Oliver Twist
Quincy Adams Sawyer
A Blind Bargain
All the Brothers Were Valiant
While Paris Sleeps
The Shock
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Next Corner
He Who Gets Slapped
The Monster
The Unholy Three
The Phantom of the Opera
The Tower of Lies
The Blackbird
The Road to Mandalay
Tell It to the Marines
Mr. Wu
The Unknown
London After Midnight
The Big City
Laugh, Clown, Laugh
While the City Sleeps
West of Zanzibar
Where East is East
The Unholy Three

Directed films[edit]Edit

Title Release date Production company Notes
The Stool Pigeon April 9, 1915 Cast and directed
For Cash Only directed
The Chimney's Secret Directed, wrote and

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