Lon Chaney - Rotten Tomatoes

Lon Chaney

Highest Rated:   100% Of Mice and Men (1939)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
Even after 65 years, the phrase "Man of a Thousand Faces" brings to mind only one name: Lon Chaney Sr. The son of deaf-mute parents, he learned at an early age to rely on pantomime as a communication skill. The stagestruck Chaney worked in a variety of backstage positions at the opera house in his hometown of Colorado Springs; he was eventually allowed to appear on stage, and, before his 17th birthday, was on tour with a play he'd co-written with his brother. Sensitive about his youth and plain features, Chaney hid behind elaborate makeup when appearing on-stage. Forced into single parenthood after divorcing his first wife Cleva Creighton (the mother of his son Creighton, Lon Chaney Jr.), Chaney had to find a more steady source of income than the theater. He began picking up extra work at Universal Studios in 1912, making himself valuable -- and ultimately indispensable -- with his expertise with character makeup. He rose from featured player to star at Universal between 1913 and 1920, sometimes doubling as director and scriptwriter. Chaney's breakthrough film was 1919's The Miracle Man, in which he played a phony cripple. It was the first of many films in which he underwent severe physical discomfort to achieve a convincing screen effect; in The Penalty (1920), for example, he not only bound his legs to play a double amputee, but also contrived to jump from great heights and land on his knees. As Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), Chaney wore a rubber hump weighing as much as 70 pounds, and the film made him a bona fide star. After Universal's Phantom of the Opera (1925), the actor moved to MGM, where he starred in several highly successful Grand Guignol horror films directed by Tod Browning. Some of Chaney's best work during this period was actually done without makeup, in such bread-and-butter vehicles as Tell It to the Marines (1926) and The Big City (1928). Offscreen, he was a loner, preferring to live far from Hollywood with his son and second wife. When sound pictures took hold in 1929, Chaney initially refused to participate, concerned that he'd have to come up with a different voice for each performance; he finally acquiesced with 1930s The Unholy Three (a remake of his 1925 silent film success), in which he not only utilized four different vocal characterizations but also proved to be a superior performer in his natural voice.), but a growth in his throat developed into bronchial cancer. He died in 1930 at the age of 47; in his last days, his illness rendered him unable to speak, forcing him to rely on the pantomimic gestures of his youth in order to communicate with his friends and loved ones.

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet Suspense
  • Actor
2013
No Score Yet The Grasp Of Greed
  • Actor
2012
No Score Yet Vox Lumiere: The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
  • Actor
2007
No Score Yet Tales of Frankenstein
  • Actor
2001
No Score Yet Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces
  • Actor
2000
No Score Yet Lon Chaney: Behind the Mask
  • Actor
1995
No Score Yet Dracula vs. Frankenstein
  • Actor
1971
No Score Yet Johnny Reno
  • Actor
1966
71% The Haunted Palace
  • Actor
1963
81% The Defiant Ones
  • Actor
1958
No Score Yet Indestructible Man
  • Actor
1956
No Score Yet The Indian Fighter
  • Actor
1955
0% Not as a Stranger (Morton Thompson's Not as a Stranger)
  • Actor
1955
No Score Yet Casanova's Big Night
  • Actor
1954
No Score Yet Springfield Rifle
  • Actor
1952
96% High Noon
  • Actor
1952
No Score Yet The Bushwackers
  • Actor
1952
No Score Yet Only the Valiant
  • Actor
1951
88% Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
  • Actor
1948
71% My Favorite Brunette
  • Actor
1947
56% House of Dracula
  • Actor
1945
40% The Mummy's Curse
  • Actor
1944
55% House of Frankenstein
  • Actor
1944
60% Son of Dracula
  • Actor
1943
75% Ghost of Frankenstein
  • Actor
1942
94% The Wolf Man
  • Actor
1941
100% Of Mice and Men
  • Actor
1939
No Score Yet The Three Musketeers
  • Actor
1933
No Score Yet The Unholy Three
  • Prof. Echo
1930
No Score Yet Where East Is East
  • Tiger
1929
No Score Yet West of Zanzibar
  • Phroso 'Dead-Legs'
1928
No Score Yet Laugh, Clown, Laugh
  • Tito Beppi
1928
No Score Yet Mockery
  • Sergei
1927
100% The Unknown
  • Alonzo
1927
No Score Yet Mister Wu
  • Mr. Wu/Wu's Grandfather
1927
No Score Yet Tell It to the Marines
  • Sgt. O'Hara
1926
No Score Yet The Black Bird
  • The Black Bird/The Bishop
1926
91% Phantom Of The Opera
  • The Phantom
1925
83% The Unholy Three
  • Prof. Echo/Granny O'Grady
1925
No Score Yet The Monster
  • Dr. Ziska
1925
No Score Yet Universal & MGM Studio Tour 1925
  • Actor
1925
No Score Yet Phantom of the Opera - Switchblade Symphony
  • Actor
1925
No Score Yet He Who Gets Slapped
  • Paul Beaumont
1924
95% The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • Quasimodo
1923
No Score Yet The Shock
  • Wilse Dilling
1923
No Score Yet Oliver Twist
  • Fagin
1922
No Score Yet The Light In The Dark
  • Actor
1922
No Score Yet Flesh and Blood
  • David Webster
1922
No Score Yet The Trap
  • Gaspard
  • Screenwriter
1922
No Score Yet Shadows
  • Yen Sin, "The Heathen"
1922
No Score Yet Light of Faith
  • Actor
1922
No Score Yet The Ace of Hearts
  • Farralone
1921
No Score Yet Outside the Law
  • Black Mike Sylva / Ah Wing
1920
80% The Penalty
  • Blizzard
1920
No Score Yet Nomads of the North
  • Raoul Challoner
1920
No Score Yet Victory
  • Ricardo
1919
No Score Yet The Wicked Darling
  • Stoop Connors
1919
No Score Yet False Faces
  • Karl Eckstrom
1919
No Score Yet The Scarlet Car
  • Paul Revere Forbes
1917
No Score Yet When the Gods Played a Badger Game, (The Girl Who Couldn't Go Wrong )
  • Actor
1915
No Score Yet By the Sun's Rays
  • Frank Lawler
1914
No Score Yet Her Grave Mistake
  • Nunez
1914

Quotes from Lon Chaney's Characters