"Man of 1000 Faces"Lon Chaney Sr: Makeup Master Extraordinaire

When I think of Lon Chaney Sr., I think of the classic original film version of the Phantom of the Opera. This has always been one of those old horror movies I enjoy watching for Halloween.

What few may realize is that Lon Chaney starred in over 150 movies released between 1913-1930. The only talking film he ever made was “The Unholy Three”, in 1930. This film was a remake of the 1925 silent version. It was released 2 months before his death from a throat hemorrhage brought on by bronchial lung cancer. He was 47 years old.

Lon Chaney was born April 1, 1883, and passed away on August 26, 1930. The son of hearing impaired parents, he learned at a young age how to communicate through facial expression, pantomime and sign language. This worked in his favor throughout his acting career.

Lon Chaney was a true master of early theatrical makeup. He would go to great lengths to ‘get into character’. He applied his own makeup. He excelled at the application of wax, greasepaint and false teeth. His knowledge of makeup was considered so great that he wrote an introduction to the subject for the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Lon Chaney is best known for two horror movies in particular:

The Phantom of the Opera-1925

The Hunchback of Notre Dame-1923

Nice video clip displaying many still photos of the genius himself-Lon Chaney!

Another one of his horror movies that I dearly wish would resurface is London After Midnight-1927. Unfortunately, all that exists from this scary movie are stills. It was reported a few years back that this most sought after ‘lost’ film from the silent era had finally been found. These reports have not been substantiated. I wish it were true. I would give key pieces of my own Halloween collection to see it!


“The Phantom of the Opera”, Complete Movie, starring Lon Chaney:

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, Complete Movie, starring Lon Chaney:



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Filed under: Vintage Horror Movies & Posters

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