PDF A Thousand Faces: Lon Chaneys Unique Artistry in Motion Pictures

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Her husband listens horrified as she documents the break in, then the tramp cuts the line. The husband steals a car and is immediately pursued by the car's owner and the police, who nearly but not quite manage to jump into the stolen car during a high-speed chase. The husband manages to gain a lead over the police but then accidentally strikes a man smoking in the road, and checks that he is OK.

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Meanwhile the tramp is breaking into the room where the wife has locked herself and her baby, violently thrusting himself through the wood door, carrying a large knife. The film has been asserted as Lon Chaney's earliest extant film based on a brief scene in which a similar individual appears on camera.

The documentary Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces states that his film debut occurred after his wife's suicide attempt in April and "his earliest films were made at the first studio to open in Hollywood, Nestor. Mirsalis originally attributed the appearance of the hobo who is struck by a car to Chaney, but after examining a high resolution digital scan frame-by-frame, has recanted his earlier claim and now concedes that the individual is not Chaney.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Greenwood Press. Retrieved June 9, Museum of Modern Art. Warner Home Video. Vestal Press. Retrieved September 4, Retrieved March 30, Cinematograph Publishing Company. Lon Chaney , nicknamed "The Man of a Thousand Faces," appeared in films between and He is remembered for his inventive use of makeup and his portrayal of grotesque characters. He was one of four children born to speech and hearing impaired parents.

Documentry: Lon Chaney (5/6)

Chaney's father worked as a barber. When young Lon was still a child, his mother became seriously ill and was bedridden for the rest of her life.

He left school and spent much of his time caring for her and his siblings, and entertaining them with pantomimed stories. Chaney later recalled his childhood as a happy time, with a tightly knit family that spent much time together at home. Chaney's older brother, John, was the manager of a theater. When Chaney was barely a teenager he started to work there, handling and then making props.

He often watched the performances and became an apprentice stage hand. In later years, he still proudly displayed his membership card in the local stage hands' union. His father, however, thought that one member of the family in the theater was enough. Chaney moved to Denver where he worked during the next several years as a carpet layer, wallpaperer, interior decorator, and guide on trail rides to Pike's Peak. When Chaney was in his late teens, he was invited to join his brother's production of a comic opera. Chaney immediately left his job as a decorator.


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The company was soon bought by Charles Holmes, who took it on a three-year tour across the West. The repertoire was mostly comic operas, and Chaney began to imagine a career as a comic actor. He also began to learn about stage design and choreography.

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Chaney did some work as a producer, and during these travels also started to develop the makeup skills that he would employ in his film career. In , he married Cleva Creighton, a member of the company. Their son Creighton was born the following year. After several years of traveling performances, Chaney joined a vaudeville team in San Francisco and began to think about trying his luck at films.

His wife was working as a nightclub singer and reportedly became an alcoholic.


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    Lon Chaney: The Man Behind The Thousand Faces by Michael F. Blake

    Chaney divorced her and prevented her from having any contact with their son Creighton. He married Hazel Bennett Hastings, a union that lasted until his death. Chaney remained an intensely private person throughout his career. Rather than attend film openings, he preferred to go trout fishing. He rarely gave interviews. His own face without makeup was so seldom seen in photographs that Chaney was often unrecognized in public.

    Like his father, Chaney discouraged his son from becoming an actor.

    Lon Chaney Facts

    In , Chaney attempted to find work at Universal Studios in Hollywood. At that time, the studio was a converted corral with a single building where filming took place. Chaney was hired as an extra, which meant that he did everything from occasional bit parts to moving scenery. His first film appearance was in the film, Poor Jake's Demise. During the next few years he played small parts in about 70 short films and a few feature films at Universal Studios.

    Notable among these was 's The Wicked Darling -not for the quality of his performance, but because it marked his first recorded film appearance with director Tod Browning, with whom Chaney would make ten films. Chaney remained with Universal Studios for six years, and recalled later how he fought to get his salary raised above one hundred dollars per week.

    He left that studio although he later returned to it several times to star in feature films , and soon made his "breakthrough" in 's The Miracle Man. In this film he played a beggar who could dislocate his limbs at will. Although the director wanted to hire a contortionist, Chaney won the part at his audition.