Magazine article American Cinematographer

Lon Chaney: The Man Behind the Thousand Faces

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Lon Chaney: The Man Behind the Thousand Faces

Article excerpt

Lon Chaney: The Man Behind the Thousand Faces by Michael F. Blake Vestal Press, 394 pages, $29.95

In the late summer of 1930, the news that Lon Chaney had died at the age of 47 sent millions of moviegoers reeling in shock. He had just made his first and only talking picture, The Unholy Three, which disproved the theory held by many that he had a poor voice. A lot has been written about the great character actor, much of it fanciful stories about how he accomplished the amazing makeups and pantomimic language that made it possible for him to play detectives, romantic leads, villains, elderly men (and women) of all races, deformed or maimed individuals, and characters from literature. Although best remembered for his roles in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Phantom of the Opera, he was not basically a "horror star" but a versatile character actor whose range was enormous.

Blake, himself a movie/TV makeup artist and the son of veteran actor Larry Blake, has given us more facts and less fiction than any previous writer. …

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