Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Lon Chaney, Jr.
Lon Chaney, Jr. (February 10, 1906 - July 12, 1973) was an American character actor, well-known mainly for his roles in monster movies and as the son of his better-known father, Lon Chaney. He was born Creighton Tull Chaney, and was first credited as "Lon Chaney, Jr." in 1935, as a studio marketing ploy.
Chaney was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and died in San Clemente, California. Chaney worked hard to avoid his father's shadow. He worked menial jobs in order to make his own way. But he also studied makeup under his father. He did not take any movie roles until after his father's death. His first movie was an uncredited role in the 1932 film Girl Crazy. He did not achieve stardom until the 1939 feature film version of Of Mice and Men, in which he played Lennie Small .
In 1941 he starred in the title role of The Wolf Man, the characterization which would be his stereotypical role for the rest of his life. He maintained a strong career in horror movies, playing all four of the classic horror roles -- the Wolf Man, Frankenstein's monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), The Mummy in The Mummy's Tomb (1942) and (the son of) Dracula in Son of Dracula (1943). He achieved immortality by appearing on one of a series of United States postage stamps portraying movie monsters, as the Wolf Man, in 1977.
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