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Lon Chaney

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Lon Chaney
Chaney standing and smiling in a black-and-white photo
Chaney during the production of The Miracle Man (1919)
Leonidas Frank Chaney

(1883-04-01)April 1, 1883
DiedAugust 26, 1930(1930-08-26) (aged 47)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
Other namesThe Man of a Thousand Faces
  • Actor
  • director
  • screenwriter
  • makeup artist
Years active1902–1930
Frances Cleveland ("Cleva") Creighton
(m. 1905; div. 1913)
Hazel Bennett Hastings
(m. 1915)
ChildrenLon Chaney Jr. (born Creighton Tull Chaney)
Chaney with his personal makeup kit in 1925
Chaney as Erik, the Phantom of the Opera

Leonidas Frank "Lon" Chaney (April 1, 1883 – August 26, 1930) was an American actor and makeup artist. He is regarded as one of the most versatile and powerful actors of cinema, renowned for his characterizations of tortured, often grotesque and afflicted, characters and for his groundbreaking artistry with makeup.[1] Chaney was known for his starring roles in such silent horror films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). His ability to transform himself using makeup techniques that he developed earned him the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Faces".

Early life


Leonidas Frank Chaney was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Frank H. Chaney (a barber) and Emma Alice Kennedy. His father was of English and French ancestry, and his mother was of Scottish, English, and Irish descent. Chaney's maternal grandfather, Jonathan Ralston Kennedy, founded the "Colorado School for the Education of Mutes" (now Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind) in 1874, and Chaney's parents met there.[2] His great-grandfather was congressman John Chaney from Ohio.

Both of Chaney's parents were deaf and, as a child of deaf adults, Chaney became skilled in American Sign Language. He entered a stage career in 1902, and began traveling with popular vaudeville and theater acts. In 1905, Chaney, then 22, met and married 16-year-old singer Cleva Creighton (Frances Cleveland Creighton) and in 1906, their only child, a son, Creighton Tull Chaney (later known as Lon Chaney Jr.) was born. The Chaneys continued touring, settling in California in 1910.

Marital troubles developed and on April 30, 1913, Cleva went to the Majestic Theater in downtown Los Angeles, where Lon was managing the "Kolb and Dill" show, and attempted suicide by swallowing mercuric chloride.[3] The suicide attempt failed, but it ruined her singing career; the ensuing scandal and divorce forced Chaney out of the theater and into film.

The time spent there is not clearly known, but between the years 1912 and 1917, Chaney worked under contract for Universal Studios doing bit or character parts. His skill with makeup gained him many parts in the highly competitive casting atmosphere. During this time, Chaney befriended the husband-wife director team of Joe De Grasse and Ida May Park, who gave him substantial roles in their pictures and further encouraged him to play macabre characters.

In 1915, Chaney married one of his former colleagues in the Kolb and Dill company, a recently divorced chorus girl named Hazel Hastings. The new couple gained custody of Chaney's 10-year-old son Creighton, who had resided in various homes and boarding schools since Chaney's divorce from Cleva in 1913.[4]


Ethel Grey Terry and Chaney in The Penalty (1920)

By 1917, Chaney was a prominent actor in the studio, but his salary did not reflect this status. When Chaney asked for a raise, studio executive William Sistrom replied, "You'll never be worth more than one hundred dollars a week." After leaving the studio, Chaney struggled for the first year as a character actor. It was not until he played a substantial role in William S. Hart's picture Riddle Gawne (1918) that Chaney's talents as a character actor were truly recognized by the industry.

Universal presented Chaney, Dorothy Phillips, and William Stowell as a team in The Piper's Price (1917). In succeeding films, the men alternated playing lover, villain, or other man to the beautiful Phillips. They would occasionally be joined by Claire DuBrey, nearly making the trio a quartet of recurring actors from film to film. So successful were the films starring this group that Universal produced fourteen films from 1917 to 1919 with Chaney, Stowell, and Phillips.[5]

The films were usually directed by Joe De Grasse or his wife Ida May Park, both friends of Chaney's at Universal. When Chaney was away branching out on films such as Riddle Gawne and The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin (both 1918), Stowell and Phillips would continue on as a duo until Chaney's return. Stowell and Phillips made The Heart of Humanity (also 1918), bringing in Erich von Stroheim for a part as the villain that could easily have been played by Chaney.[5]

Paid in Advance (1919) was the group's last film together, for Stowell was sent to Africa by Universal to scout locations for a movie. En route from one city to another, Stowell was in the caboose when it was hit by the locomotive from another train; he was killed instantly. The majority of these films are lost but a few, including Triumph and Paid in Advance which survive in private collections or in European or Russian archives.[5][Note 1]

Chaney as the Chinese immigrant "Yen Sin" in Shadows (1922)

Chaney had a breakthrough performance as "The Frog" in George Loane Tucker's The Miracle Man (1919). The film displayed not only Chaney's acting ability, but also his talent as a master of makeup. Critical praise and a gross of over $2 million put Chaney on the map as America's foremost character actor.

Chaney exhibited great adaptability with makeup in more conventional crime and adventure films, such as The Penalty (1920), in which he played a gangster with both legs amputated. Chaney appeared in ten films directed by Tod Browning, often portraying disguised and/or mutilated characters, including carnival knife-thrower Alonzo the Armless in The Unknown (1927) opposite Joan Crawford. Around the same time, Chaney also co-starred with Conrad Nagel, Marceline Day, Henry B. Walthall, and Polly Moran in the Tod Browning horror film London After Midnight (1927), one of the most sought after lost films.[7] His final film role was The Unholy Three (1930), a sound remake of his 1925 silent film of the same name. The 1930 remake was his only "talkie" and the only film in which Chaney utilized his powerful and versatile voice. Chaney signed a sworn statement declaring that five of the key voices in the film (the ventriloquist, the old woman, a parrot, the dummy and the girl) were his own.[8]

A still from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) showing "Quasimodo" (Chaney) being offered water by "Esmeralda" (Patsy Ruth Miller)
Chaney, 1923

Makeup in the early days of cinema was almost non-existent with the exception of beards and mustaches to denote villains.[9] Most of what the Hollywood studios knew about film stemmed from their experience with theater makeup, but this did not always transfer well to the big screen, especially as the film quality improved over time. Makeup departments were not yet in place during Chaney's time. Prior to the mid-20s, actors were expected to do their own makeup.[9]

In the absence of such specialized professions, Chaney's skills gave him a competitive advantage over other actors. He was the complete package. Casting crews knew that they could place him in virtually any part and he would thrive. In some films his skill allowed him to play dual roles. An extreme case of this was the film Outside the Law (1920), where he played a character who shot and killed another character, whom he also was playing.[9]

As Quasimodo, the bell ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral, and Erik, the "phantom" of the Paris Opera House, Chaney created two of the most grotesquely deformed characters in film history.[10][11][12] "Phantom … became a legend almost immediately," wrote the Los Angeles Times in 1990. "The newspapers of the day reported that women fainted, children bawled and grown men stepped outside for fresh air after the famous unmasking scene."[13] "The unmasking of the titular Phantom is one of the most well-known moments in silent film," wrote Meg Shields in 2020. "Arguably, it’s one of the most horrifying images ever put on screen."[14] However, Chaney's portrayals sought to elicit a degree of sympathy and pathos among viewers not overwhelmingly terrified or repulsed by the monstrous disfigurements of these victims of fate.

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

In a 1925 autobiographical article for Movie magazine, he wrote: "I wanted to remind people that the lowest types of humanity may have within them the capacity for supreme self-sacrifice. The dwarfed, misshapen beggar of the streets may have the noblest ideals. Most of my roles since The Hunchback, such as The Phantom of the Opera, He Who Gets Slapped, The Unholy Three, etc., have carried the theme of self-sacrifice or renunciation. These are the stories which I wish to do." Chaney referred to his expertise in both makeup and contorting his body to portray his subjects as "extraordinary characterization". Chaney's talents extended beyond the horror genre and stage makeup. He was also a highly skilled dancer, singer and comedian.

London After Midnight (1927)

Ray Bradbury once said of Chaney, "He was someone who acted out our psyches. He somehow got into the shadows inside our bodies; he was able to nail down some of our secret fears and put them on-screen. The history of Lon Chaney is the history of unrequited loves. He brings that part of you out into the open, because you fear that you are not loved, you fear that you never will be loved, you fear there is some part of you that's grotesque, that the world will turn away from." Chaney and his second wife Hazel led a discreet private life distant from the Hollywood social scene. Chaney did minimal promotional work for his films and for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, purposefully fostering a mysterious image, and he reportedly intentionally avoided the social scene in Hollywood.[15]

In the final five years of his film career (1925–1930), Chaney worked exclusively under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, giving some of his most memorable performances. His portrayal of a tough-as-nails marine drill instructor in Tell It to the Marines (1926), one of his favorite films, earned him the affection of the Marine Corps, who made him their first honorary member from the motion picture industry.[16]

He also earned the respect and admiration of numerous aspiring actors, to whom he offered mentoring assistance, and between takes on film sets he was always willing to share his professional observations with the cast and crew. During the filming of The Unknown (1927), Joan Crawford stated that she learned more about acting from watching Chaney work than from anyone else in her career. "It was then," she said, "I became aware for the first time of the difference between standing in front of a camera, and acting."[16]

Chaney, in full makeup and attire of "Mr. Wu", conducts a women's orchestra, 1927



During the filming of Thunder in the winter of 1929, Chaney developed pneumonia. In late 1929, he was diagnosed with bronchial lung cancer. This was exacerbated when fake snow lodged in his throat during filming and caused a serious infection.[17] Despite aggressive treatment, his condition gradually worsened, and he died of a throat hemorrhage on August 26, 1930, in a Los Angeles, California hospital.[Note 2]

His funeral was held on August 28 in Glendale, California. Honorary pallbearers included Paul Bern, Hunt Stromberg, Irving Thalberg, Louis B. Mayer, Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Tod Browning, Lew Cody, and Ramon Novarro. The U.S. Marine Corps provided a chaplain and Honor Guard for his funeral. While his funeral was being conducted, all MGM studios and offices observed two minutes of silence.[15][18]

Chaney's unmarked crypt[19] in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California

Chaney was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, next to the crypt of his father.[18] His wife Hazel was interred there upon her death in 1933. In accordance with his will, Chaney's crypt has remained unmarked.[20]



In 1957, Chaney was the subject of a biopic titled Man of a Thousand Faces, in which he was portrayed by James Cagney.[21] The film is a largely fictionalized account, as Chaney was notoriously private and hated the Hollywood lifestyle. He never revealed personal details about himself or his family, once stating, "Between pictures, there is no Lon Chaney."[15]

Chaney's son Creighton, later known as Lon Chaney Jr., became a film actor after his father's death.[22] Chaney Jr. is best remembered for roles in horror films, such as the title character in The Wolf Man (1941).[23] In October 1997, both Chaneys appeared on commemorative US postage stamps as the Phantom of the Opera and the Wolf Man, with the set completed by Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster and the Mummy.[24]

Chaney is also the subject of the 2000 documentary feature, Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces. The film was produced by silent film historian Kevin Brownlow and narrated by Kenneth Branagh.[25]

In the song "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon, both Chaney and his son Lon Chaney Jr are name-called in the last verse.


Chaney's Sierra Nevada House, located near Big Pine, California, was his mountain retreat.

Chaney has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located on Hollywood Boulevard.[26] In 1994, Al Hirschfeld's caricature of Chaney was featured on a commemorative United States postage stamp.[27]

In 1929, Chaney built a stone cabin in the remote wilderness of the eastern Sierra Nevada near Big Pine, California as a retreat, hiring Paul R. Williams. Located in the Inyo National Forest, the cabin still stands, though it is not open to the public.[28] Following his death, Chaney's famous makeup case was donated to the Los Angeles County Museum by his widow, Hazel. The case is occasionally displayed for the public. The stage theater at the Colorado Springs Civic Auditorium is also named after the actor.



Approximately 102 of the 157 films made by Chaney are currently classified as lost films. A number of the remaining 55 films exist only in extremely truncated form or suffer from severe decomposition.

Two of Chaney’s films (The Phantom of the Opera and He Who Gets Slapped) are inducted into Library of CongressNational Film Registry.

Short subjects

Year Title Role Notes
1913 Poor Jake's Demise Willy (The Dude) Mollycoddle Chaney's first credited film appearance[29]
Eight minutes of footage discovered in 2006, restored.
1913 The Sea Urchin Barnacle Bill Lost film
1913 The Blood Red Tape of Charity A Jewish pawnbroker (uncredited)[30] Lost film
1913 Shon the Piper Scottish clansman (uncredited) Also known as Shawn the Piper
Lost film[30]
1913 The Trap Lon (uncredited) Lost film
1913 The Restless Spirit The Russian Count wearing a beard (uncredited)[31] Lost film
1913 Almost an Actress Lon plays a cameraman Lost film
1913 An Elephant on His Hands Eddie [32] Lost film
1913 Back to Life The Rival Lost film
1913 Red Margaret, Moonshiner Lon (an old moonshiner with a wild beard) Re-release title: Moonshine Blood
Lost film[33]
1913 Bloodhounds of the North Mountie lieutenant Lost film
1914 The Lie Young MacGregor Lost film
1914 The Honor of the Mounted Jacques Laquox Lost film
1914 Remember Mary Magdalen The half-wit Lost film
1914 Discord and Harmony Lon, a sculptor Lost film
1914 The Menace to Carlotta Giovanni Bartholdi Chaney also wrote the screenplay[34]
Working title: Carlotta, the Bead Stringer
Lost film
1914 The Embezzler J. Roger Dixon, a blackmailer[35] Lost film
1914 The Lamb, the Woman, the Wolf The Wolf (a mountain man) Lost film
1914 The End of the Feud Wood Dawson Lost film
1914 The Tragedy of Whispering Creek The Greaser Some sources say Chaney wrote the screenplay as well (but this is disputed)[36]
Print exists in the Deutsche Kinematek film archive[37]
1914 The Unlawful Trade The half-breed Lost film
1914 The Forbidden Room John Morris Working title: The Web of Circumstance
Lost film[38]
1914 The Old Cobbler Wild Bill Lost film
1914 A Ranch Romance Raphael Praz Lost film
1914 The Hopes of Blind Alley The vendor aka The Hopes of a Blind Alley[39]
Lost film
1914 Her Grave Mistake Nunez, a Mexican spy Lost film
1914 By the Sun's Rays Frank Lawler, the clerk A 16mm. print of this film exists
available on DVD[40]
1914 The Oubliette Chevalier Bertrand de la Payne A nitrate print was discovered in Georgia in 1983.[41]
Alternate title: The Adventures of François Villon #1: The Oubliette
1914 A Miner's Romance John Burns Lost film
1914 Her Bounty Fred Howard Lost film
1914 The Higher Law Sir Stephen Fitz Allen Alternative title: The Adventures of François Villon #2: The Higher Law
Lost film
1914 Richelieu Baradas, the villain Lost film
1914 The Pipes o' Pan Arthur Farrell Some sequences were hand colored
Lost film[42]
1914 Virtue Is Its Own Reward Duncan Bronson, an unsavory co-worker In 2018, a 25-foot fragment of this film was discovered in a Brooklyn attic[43][44]
1914 Her Life's Story Don Valesquez, a nobleman Lost film
1914 A Small Town Girl A pimp Released Nov. 7, 1914[45]
Lost film
1914 Lights and Shadows Bentley, a wealthy man's son Lost film[46]
1914 The Lion, the Lamb, the Man Fred Brown, the "Lion" A 1-reel cutdown print survives with most of the opening footage removed[47]
1914 A Night of Thrills The Visitor Lost film
1914 Her Escape Pete Walsh, a blind man Chaney also wrote the screenplay for this film[48]
Lost film
1915 The Sin of Olga Brandt Stephen Leslie, an attorney Lost film[49]
1915 The Star of the Sea Tomasco, a hunchbacked fisherman Lost film[50]
1915 The Measure of a Man Mountie Lt. Jim Stuart[50] Lost film
1915 The Threads of Fate The Count The opening and closing scenes were hand colored[51]
Lost film
1915 When the Gods Played a Badger Game Joe – the Property Man Working title was The Girl Who Couldn't Go Wrong
Lost film[38]
1915 Such Is Life Tod Wilkes, a burlesque show performer Lost film[52]
1915 Where the Forest Ends Paul Rouchelle, an artist Lost film[53]
1915 Outside the Gates Perez, a peddler Lost film[54]
1915 All for Peggy Seth Baldwin, the stable boy Lost film[55]
1915 The Desert Breed Fred Lost film
1915 Maid of the Mist Lin – Pauline's Father Lost film
1915 The Girl of the Night Jerry, a small-time crook Re-release title: Her Chance
Lost film[38]
1915 The Stool Pigeon Chaney directed this film (his first) but did not star in it[56]
Lost film
1915 The Grind Henry Leslie Released in U.K. as On the Verge of Sin
Lost film[38]
1915 For Cash Chaney directed this film but did not star in it[57]
Lost film
1915 An Idyll of the Hills Lafe Jameson, moonshiner Lost film
1915 The Stronger Mind The Crook's Pal Lost film
1915 The Oyster Dredger Chaney wrote and directed this film but did not star in it[58]
Lost film
1915 Steady Company Jimmy Ford, a warehouse employee Lost film
1915 The Violin Maker Pedro, the violin maker Chaney directed this film [59]
Lost film
1915 The Trust Jim Mason, a thief Chaney directed this film [60]
Alternative title: The Truce
Lost film
1915 Bound on the Wheel Tom Coulahan, a drunkard Lost film
1915 Mountain Justice Jeffrey Kirke, a moonshiner Lost film
1915 Quits Frenchy, a fugitive Working title was The Sheriff of Long Butte (the title of the Jules Furthman story it was based on); released 8/17/15; one reel [61][62]
Lost film (a still from the film exists)[63]
1915 The Chimney's Secret Dual role: as both Charles Harding (the bank cashier) and as the miserly old beggar Chaney wrote and directed this film [61]
Lost film
1915 The Pine's Revenge Black Scotty, a criminal The working title was The King's Keeper[64]
Lost film
1915 The Fascination of the Fleur de Lis Duke of Safoulrug An incomplete print survives in the hands of a private collector in England[65][66]
1915 Alas and Alack Dual role: Jess's husband (a fisherman) and Hunchback Fate (in a fantasy sequence) [67][68] An incomplete print exists in the National Film Archives in London.[69]
1915 A Mother's Atonement Dual role: Ben Morrison (as an old man and as his younger self) [70] Only the first two reels of the picture survive at the Library of Congress[71]
1915 Lon of Lone Mountain Lon Moore, a mountain man Lost film
1915 The Millionaire Paupers Martin, the building manager The working title was Fate's A Fiddler [72]
A brief fragment of the film exists in a private collection.[73]
1915 Under a Shadow DeSerris, a Secret Service agent Lost film [72]
1915 Stronger Than Death An attorney Lost film
1916 Dolly's Scoop Dan Fisher, reporter A print of the film survives, missing the main title but otherwise complete.[74]
1916 Felix on the Job Tod released Oct. 31, 1916 [75]
Lost film
1916 Accusing Evidence Lon, a Canadian Mountie Apparently filmed in 1914 but only released on Nov. 23, 1916[76][77]
Lost film
1917 The Mask of Love Marino, an underworld criminal Apparently filmed in 1914 but only released on Mar. 19, 1917[78]

Lost film

Feature films

Year Title Role Notes
1915 Father and the Boys Tuck Bartholomew Lost film
1916 The Grip of Jealousy Silas Lacey Working title was Love Thine Enemy[80]
Lost film
1916 Tangled Hearts John Hammond Roughly two minutes of footage exist in a private collection
1916 The Gilded Spider Giovanni Working title was The Full Cup
A print was rediscovered in 2008.[38]
1916 Bobbie of the Ballet Hook Hoover Lost film
1916 The Grasp of Greed Jimmie About half the film still exists (incomplete print) at the George Eastman House Film Archive[81]
1916 The Mark of Cain Dick Temple Chaney received first billing in this film for the first time in his career.[82]
Working title was By Fate's Decree.
Lost film (only a few fragments exist in the Danish Film Archive)[38][83]
1916 If My Country Should Call Dr. George Ardrath Incomplete print (reels 2, 3 and 5 of 5) exists at the National Archives of Canada and the Library of Congress.[75]
1916 The Place Beyond the Winds Jerry Jo Working title was Mansion of Despair[38]
Four of the five reels (reels 2, 3, 4 and 5) still survive in the film archive in the Library of Congress and in the National Archives of Canada.[84]
1916 The Price of Silence Dr. Edmond Stafford A print exists in the CNC French Film Archives[85]
1917 The Piper's Price Billy Kilmartin Lost film
1917 Hell Morgan's Girl Sleter Noble Working title was The Wrong Side of Paradise
Lost film[38]
1917 The Girl in the Checkered Coat Hector Maitland Lost film
1917 The Flashlight Dual Role as both Henry Norton and as Porter Brixton (two step-brothers) Lost film
1917 A Doll's House Nils Krogstad Lost film
1917 Fires of Rebellion Russell Hanlon Lost film
1917 The Rescue Thomas Holland Lost film
1917 Pay Me! Joe Lawson Alternate title: Vengeance of the West[86]
1917 Triumph Paul Neihoff An incomplete print consisting only of the first three reels were discovered in England and have been preserved at AMPAS[87]
1917 The Empty Gun Frank Lost film
1917 Bondage The Seducer Uncredited (his appearance in this film is unconfirmed, but Blake's book says Chaney was in the film)
Lost film[88]
1917 Anything Once Waught Moore Working title was A Fool for Luck; a.k.a. The Maverick
Lost film
1917 The Scarlet Car Paul Revere Forbes Prints exist at the Library of Congress and elsewhere
Clips included in the 1995 documentary Lon Chaney: Behind the Mask[89]
1918 Broadway Love Elmer Watkins A print of the film survives in the George Eastman House Motion Picture Collection.[90]
1918 The Grand Passion Paul Argos Working title was The Boss of Powderville
Lost film
1918 The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin Bethmann-Hollweg Lost film
1918 Fast Company Dan McCarty Lost film
1918 A Broadway Scandal "Kink" Colby Lost film
1918 Riddle Gawne Hame Bozzam Two of the five reels exist in the Library of Congress (incomplete print)[91]
1918 That Devil, Bateese Louis Courteau Lost film
1918 The Talk of the Town Jack Lanchome (Langhorne in some sources) Based on a novelette called Discipline of Genevra
Lost film
1918 Danger, Go Slow Bud Lost film
1919 The False Faces Karl Eckstrom, a German spy Based on the novel by Louis Joseph Vance
The film's working title was The Lone Wolf[38]
Complete print exists at the George Eastman House
Available on DVD
1919 The Wicked Darling Stoop Connors Chaney's first collaboration with Tod Browning
Working titles were The Gutter Rose and Rose of the Night[38]
A complete print (with some decomposition) exists at the Netherlands Filmmuseum in Amsterdam
Available on DVD
1919 A Man's Country "Three Card" Duncan A small portion of this film was discovered at the Danish Film Institute film archive in Denmark.
The fragment does not contain any of Chaney's scenes[92]
1919 The Miracle Man The Frog Lost film
A 3-minute fragment exists showing Chaney in the faith healing sequence[93]
1919 Paid in Advance Bateese Le Blanc A nitrate stock print (with Czech subtitles) is housed at the Narodni Filmovy Archive in Czechoslovakia[94]
1919 When Bearcat Went Dry Kindard Powers A complete print exists at the American Film Institute, donated by a collector
1919 Victory Ricardo With Wallace Beery; complete film available on DVD
1920 Daredevil Jack Royce Rivers, bandit leader 15-chapter serial
Segments of this film (mainly Chapters 1, 2 and 4) are stored at the University of California, Los Angeles

Chaney does not appear in the existing footage

1920 Treasure Island Dual role as two pirates, Blind Pew and Merry Lost film
1920 The Gift Supreme Merney Stagg An incomplete print (reel one of six) survives and is preserved in a private collection.[95]
1920 Nomads of the North Raoul Challoner Available on DVD
1920 The Penalty Blizzard Available on DVD
1920 Outside the Law Dual role as Black Mike Sylva and Ah Wing Print exists in the Film Preservation Associates film collection
Available on DVD.[96]
1921 For Those We Love Trix Ulner Lost film
1921 Bits of Life Chin Chow Lost film
1921 The Ace of Hearts Farallone Available on DVD
1921 Voices of the City Red O'Rourke, gangster Released originally as The Night Rose, the film was then re-edited and retitled Voices of the City; Chaney's character's name was changed from Red O'Rourke to Duke McGee;
Lost film
1922 The Trap Gaspard Chaney also co-wrote the story that this film was based on
Released in the U.K. as Heart of a Wolf[38]
1922 Flesh and Blood David Webster Working title was Fires of Vengeance; re-released in 1927; available on DVD
1922 The Light in the Dark Tony Pantelli Later edited down into a shorter version called The Light of Faith[38]
Only the short version is available on DVD
1922 Oliver Twist Fagin Available on DVD
1922 Shadows Yen Sin, the Heathen Available on DVD
1922 Quincy Adams Sawyer Obadiah Strout Lost film
1922 A Blind Bargain Dual Role as Dr. Arthur Lamb/ The Ape Man Based on the novel The Octave of Claudius
Lost film[38]
1923 All the Brothers Were Valiant Mark Shore Lost film
1923 While Paris Sleeps Henri Santodos,a sculptor Working title was The Glory of Love
Film was made in 1920, but only released in 1923
Lost film[38]
1923 The Shock Wilse Dilling Working title was Bittersweet[38]
Available on DVD
1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame Quasimodo Assisted as makeup artist (uncredited)
Available on DVD
1924 The Next Corner Juan Serafin Lost film
1924 He Who Gets Slapped Dual role as both Paul Beaumont and "HE" Available on DVD
Inducted into National Film Registry in 2017.
1925 The Monster Dr. Ziska Available on DVD
1925 The Phantom of the Opera The Phantom Asst. director, makeup (uncredited)
Available on DVD
Inducted to National Film Registry in 1998.
1925 The Unholy Three Dual role as Echo and the Old Lady Remade as a sound film in 1930, again starring Chaney
Available on DVD
1925 The Tower of Lies Jan Lost film
1926 The Blackbird Dual role as The Blackbird and The Bishop A.k.a. The Black Bird
Available on DVD
1926 The Road to Mandalay Singapore Joe The film's working title was Singapore
A condensed version with French subtitles exists in some museums
1926 Tell It to the Marines Sergeant O'Hara Available on DVD
1927 Mr. Wu Dual role as Mr. Wu and Mr. Wu's grandfather Available on DVD
1927 The Unknown Alonzo the Armless Available on DVD
1927 Mockery Sergei, a Russian peasant Working title was Terror[38]
Available on DVD
1927 London After Midnight Dual role as Professor Edward C. Burke and The Vampire Alternate title: The Hypnotist
Makeup artist also (uncredited)
Lost film
1928 The Big City Chuck Collins Lost film
1928 Laugh, Clown, Laugh Tito the Clown A near complete print exists
Available on DVD
1928 While the City Sleeps Dan Coghlan Incomplete print with some wear exists in some collections
1928 West of Zanzibar Phroso Available on DVD
1929 Where East Is East Tiger Haynes Available on DVD
1929 Thunder Grumpy Anderson Mostly a lost film; only a few minutes survives
1930 The Unholy Three (Sound Remake)[97] Dual role as Echo and the Old Lady Available on DVD

Gallery: The Man of a Thousand Faces


See also



  1. ^ In a scene from Triumph (1917), biographer Daniel Blum described the scene as: "... Phillips has hand on Chaney's head embracing him while Stowell reads paperwork on desk."[6]
  2. ^ The New York Times reported: "Lon Chaney dies after brave fight. On road to recovery, screen actor is stricken by hemorrhage of the throat. Was a master of makeup. Son of deaf and dumb Parents, He began career as property boy. Excelled in vivid personations. Acted as Pike's Peak guide. Made stage debut at 17. Appeared in slap-stick comedy. Wore straitjacket as "Hunchback." New disguise for each film. Although he was believed to be on the road to recovery, Lon Chaney, screen actor, who had been making a valiant fight against anemia and bronchial congestion, died at 12:55."[1]


  1. ^ a b "Obituary: Lon Chaney." The New York Times, August 27, 1930. Retrieved: July 21, 2007.
  2. ^ Blackmar 1912, pp. 496–498.
  3. ^ Mysteries and Scandals – Lon Chaney (Season 3, Episode 34). E!. 2000.
  4. ^ "Mrs. Lon Chaney dies. Before her husband entered the movies she was well known In Vaudeville." The New York Times, November 1, 1933. Retrieved: July 21, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c Internet Movie Database, IMDb.com ; film listings on Lon Chaney, William Stowell, Dorothy Phillips & Claire Dubrey
  6. ^ 'Blum 1953, p. 141
  7. ^ Vogel 2010, p. 146.
  8. ^ Herzogenrath 2008, p. 79.
  9. ^ a b c Anderson, R. G. (1971). Faces, Forms, Films; the Artistry of Lon Chaney (pp. 1–216). Cranbury, NJ: A. S. Barnes and Co., Inc.
  10. ^ Lussier, Tim. "The Phantom of the Opera (1925)." Silents are Golden, 2000. Retrieved: May 10, 2016.
  11. ^ Dick 1997, pp. 52–55.
  12. ^ Turan, Kenneth (February 19, 2006). "The Most Fiendish Face in Movies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 3, 2022.
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