Lon Chaney, Jr., Lon_Chaney,_Jr.
, Talk:Lon Chaney, Jr.
Lon Chaney, Jr.
– July 12
) was an American character actor
, well-known mainly for his roles in monster movies
and as the son of Lon Chaney
. He was born Creighton Tull Chaney
, began acting under that name, and was first credited as "Lon Chaney, Jr." only in 1935, as a studio marketing
ploy by a small production outfit.
Chaney was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
and from an early age worked hard to avoid his father's shadow. He worked menial jobs in order to make his own way, but he also studied makeup under his father. It was only after his father's death that Chaney began acting in movies
, beginning with an uncredited role
in the 1932 film Girl Crazy
. He did not achieve stardom
until the 1939 feature film
version of Of Mice and Men
, in which he played Lennie Small
, Chaney starred in the title role of The Wolf Man
for Universal Pictures Co. Inc.
, which characterization and company would typecast
him for the rest of his life. He maintained a career in Universal horror movie
s over the next few years, replaying the Wolf Man in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
, House of Frankenstein
, House of Dracula
and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
's monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein
the mummy in The Mummy's Tomb
, The Mummy's Ghost
and The Mummy's Curse
in Son of Dracula
, generally regarded as his most significant performance in a Universal picture after the original The Wolf Man
. Universal also starred him in a series of psychological mysteries
tied in with the Inner Sanctum
radio series. There were also attempts to star him in western hero roles, such as the serial Overland Mail
, but the six-foot, 220-pound actor often just appeared as mundane heavies. After leaving Universal, he worked mostly in character parts in low-budget films, due to typecasting and a heavy drinking problem. In later years he largely played mute or brutish roles, in part because of the ravages of throat cancer
, the same disease that had claimed his father's life. In his final feature film, Dracula vs. Frankenstein
), he played a mute zombie named Groton who was Dr. Frankenstein's assistant.
Chaney had a supporting role in the classic western, High Noon
(starring Gary Cooper).
He became quite popular with baby boomer
s, however, after Universal released its backlog of horror films to television in 1956 and Famous Monsters of Filmland
magazine regularly focused on his films; and he was honoured by appearing on one of a series of United States postage stamp
s portraying movie monsters, as the Wolf Man, in 1997 (Boris Karloff
as the Frankenstein's monster
and The Mummy
, Bela Lugosi
, and Lon Chaney as The Phantom of the Opera
made up the rest of that series).
Married twice, he died in San Clemente, California
and is survived by a grandson, Ron Chaney
, who attends film conventions and graciously discusses his grandfather's life and film career. Ron Chaney was featured on the CBS Sunday Morning program on October 29, 2006.
# A Scream in the Night
# Mr. Moto's Gamble
# Charlie Chan in City in Darkness
# Of Mice and Men
# One Million B.C.
# Man Made Monster
# The Wolf Man
# The Ghost of Frankenstein
# The Mummy's Tomb
# Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
# Son of Dracula
# Calling Dr. Death
# Weird Woman
# The Mummy's Ghost
# Dead Man's Eyes
# House of Frankenstein
# The Mummy's Curse
# The Frozen Ghost
# Strange Confession
# House of Dracula
# Pillow of Death
# My Favorite Brunette
# Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
# The Black Sleep
# 13 Demon Street
# The Alligator People
# The Haunted Palace
# House of Black Death
# Dr. Terror's Gallery of Horrors
# Hillbillys In A Haunted House
# The Female Bunch
# Dracula vs. Frankenstein
* He, along with his father
, is mentioned in the Warren Zevon
song Werewolves of London
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