Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Happy Birthday Lon Chaney, Jr.
Happy birthday to horror icon Creighton Tull Chaney a/k/a Lon Chaney, Jr. a/k/a Lon Chaney(1906-1973)!
The son of horror pioneer Lon Chaney, he first came to the public's attention for his starring turn in the classic film Of Mice and Men (1939). He made his first splash in the world of fright flicks in one of my favorite of Universal's better, and quite underrated, monster movies Man Made Monster (1941), where he portrayed Dynamo Dan, The Electric Man.
Of course, most horror fanatics know him best for his portrayal of the cursed and doomed Lawrence Talbot in the classic film, The Wolf Man (1941).
Given the success of this film, it helped to relaunch the rebirth of Universal's monster gang, so Mr. Chaney would go on to portray Talbot in Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945) and the horror/comedy to end all horror/comedy films, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).
He also has the honor of being the only actor to portray all of Universal's classic monsters by playing not only The Wolf Man, but also Dracula in Son of Dracula (1944)
Frankenstein's Monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
and the Mummy in The Mummy's Tomb (1942), The Mummy's Ghost (1944) and The Mummy's Curse (1944).
Often overlooked but really entertaining films are the "Inner Sanctum" series, including Calling Dr. Death (1943), Weird Woman (1944), Dead Man's Eyes (1944), The Frozen Ghost (1944), Strange Confession (1945) and Pillow of Death (1945), all of which I covered in this earlier post and review.
Working for the next couple of decades, Mr. Chaney also appeared in genre classics such as Bride of the Gorilla (1951), Indestructible Man (1956), The Alligator People (1959), The Devil's Messenger (1961), The Haunted Palace (1963), and Face of the Screaming Werewolf (1964).
He also appeared in two of my personal favorite fright flicks - Spider Baby (1968) and the so-bad-it's great Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971).
While Mr. Chaney had a difficult, and somewhat tragic life, and perhaps was not always best suited for the roles in which Universal cast him, he left all us monster kids with one of the most wonderful film legacies in horror. Happy birthday to you!