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Creator / Lon Chaney Jr.

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"Nothing is more natural to me than horror."

Creighton Tull Chaney (February 10, 1906 – July 12, 1973), better known by his stage name of Lon Chaney Jr., was an American character actor best known for his work in numerous Universal Horror monster movies.

Chaney was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Territory, the son of silent movie star Lon Chaney. After his parents' marriage ended in divorce, young Creighton lived in a number of different homes and boarding schools until his father remarried and was able to provide a stable home. Creighton worked hard to get out from under the shadow of his father growing up, while the elder Chaney discouraged him from entering show business.

Obviously that didn't work out too well, because after the elder Chaney's death his son started acting in films, beginning with a bit part in the 1932 film Girl Crazy. He appeared under his true name until 1935, when he began to be billed as "Lon Chaney Jr". From 1942 onward he was officially billed as just "Lon Chaney", though the "Jr." was still commonly applied to distinguish him from his father. His first starring role was as Lennie Small in the 1939 film version of Of Mice and Men, but it was not until his role in One Million B.C. that Chaney's true calling as a character actor became clear. He was then cast in Man-Made Monster, in a performance that led to an offer to star in The Wolf Man (1941), which would lead in turn to his getting typecast as a horror actor for the rest of his life. In addition to his role as cinema's most famous werewolf, Chaney would also portray Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, and Kharis the Mummy, which means he probably played more iconic Universal monsters than any other actor.

Despite this, Chaney carved out a secondary niche as a supporting actor and villain in crime films and westerns, and starred in a series of radio shows. After making 30 films for Universal, he left the studio and worked primarily as a character actor.

Chaney was married to Dorothy Hinckley (with whom he had two sons) from 1928 to 1936 and then to Patsy Beck from 1937 until his death. He died of heart failure at age 67, and his body was donated to science.

Among many horror fans, Chaney is half-jokingly known as "monster royalty". In a meaningful quirk of fate, his father had the distinction of starring in the very first Universal Horror film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), as well as its follow-up The Phantom of the Opera (1925) – arguably making him the original Universal monster. Conversely, The Wolf Man was one of the last films to be released in the studio's "classic" cycle of horror movies, and the eponymous Wolf Man was the studio's last new recurring character to be introduced (unless you count the Creature from the Black Lagoon) – which arguably makes Lon Jr. the last Universal monster. Now, that's one hell of a family legacy. Both men were honored in 1997 by appearing (as the Phantom of the Opera and the Wolf Man, respectively) in a series of USPS stamps depicting the classic Universal monsters.

He appears as a secondary character in Man of a Thousand Faces (1957), a biopic about his father.

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