Lon Chaney: The Man Behind the Thousand Faces

Michael F. Blake

A biography of a former carpet-layer who is best remembered as the Hunchback, the Phantom, a man with no legs, a clown, a vampire, an old woman in a dress, a knife-thrower without arms, a blind beggar, an old Chinaman, and 992 other prosthetic nightmares. No wonder fans cried, “Don’t step on that spider—it might be Lon Chaney!” This self-made master of disguise was the single greatest acting bargain Hollywood ever pulled off the shelf. Not only could he play handsome leading men, he could also portray gnarly villains and various oddball characters, often in the same picture. And he did his own makeup! He didn’t care how much the binding and appliances hurt because he was suffering for his art. Teaming up with Freaks director Tod Browning, Chaney starred in, among others, The Unknown (as the armless man), London After Midnight (the vampire) and The Penalty (in which he was legless). One of Hollywood’s greats. GR

Publisher: Vestal
Paperback: 394 pages