Famed horror great Lon Chaney Jr. was born Creighton Chaney on February 10, 1906, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. At that time his father, future silent screen star Lon Chaney, was a poor vaudevillian who had taken his family on the road. By the time young Creighton was ten years old, his parents' marriage had dissolved, but Lon Chaney's film career had begun, and the family's fortune took a turn for the better. Discouraged by his father in looking to acting as a profession, Creighton Chaney took on a succession of menial jobs until his marriage to wife Dorothy in 1926; the couple eventually had two sons, born in 1928 and 1930. With a family to support, Creighton Chaney went to work for his father-in-law's company. It wasn't until after his father's death in 1930 that Creighton Chaney considered taking up acting. His father's name helped him get his foot in the door, and in the early 1930s he was given small roles in films. An early starring role for Chaney came in the 1932 RKO serial The Last Frontier, but his career lacked real momentum until he agreed to change his name to Lon Chaney Jr. in the mid 1930s. Later in his career, he dropped the "Junior" designation and was billed as "Lon Chaney." After ten years, his marriage to Dorothy fell apart, and Chaney married second wife Patsy in 1937.

Although Chaney appeared in more than 60 films between 1932 and 1939, his career lacked direction until he was cast as Lennie Small in the 1939 film Of Mice and Men, in which he delivered the strongest performance of his career. Finally a star in his own right, in 1941 he signed a contract with Universal to do a string of mostly horror films, including The Wolf Man, for which he is best remembered today. During his tenure at Universal, Chaney portrayed the Wolf Man, Dracula, the Mummy, and even Frankenstein, a feat no other actor can boast. However, Chaney also did a number of westerns, and he also proved to be excellent in comedies and dramas.

the films of lon chaney jr.

Scream in the Night (1935)

Lon Chaney Jr.

Lobby card from Scream in the Night

Undersea Kingdom (1936)

Ray Crash Corrigan, Lee Van Atta, and Lon Chaney Jr.

From Republic's thrilling-yet-campy science fiction serial Undersea Kingdom with star Ray Corrigan and Lee Van Atta

Charlie Chan in the City of Darkness (1939)

Lon Chaney Jr.

With Leo G. Carroll and Sidney Toler in Charlie Chan in the City of Darkness

Man Made Monster (1941)

Lon Chaney Jr. and Lionel AtwillLionel AtwillLon Chaney Jr.

Man Made Monster was Lon Chaney's first Universal horror film. LEFT and CENTER: With Lionel Atwill. RIGHT. Chaney as Dan McCormick

The Wolf Man (1941)

Lon Chaney Jr.Lon Chaney Jr.

Chaney's most famous role as Larry Talbot, the Wolf Man. Also pictured is Evelyn Ankers

The Mummy's Tomb (1942)

Lon Chaney Jr. and Turhan Bey

Lon Chaney Jr.portrays the title character opposite Turhan Bey in Universal's The Mummy's Tomb

The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

Lionel Atwill and Lon Chaney Jr.

With Lionel Atwill in Universal's underrated The Ghost of Frankenstein

Son of Dracula (1943)

Lon Chaney Jr.Lon Chaney Jr.

As the vampire in Son of Dracula

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)

Lon Chaney Jr.

With fellow horror great Bela Lugosi as Frankenstein in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. Ironically, in 1930 Lugosi turned down the role of Frankenstein's monster, which made Boris Karloff a star

The Mummy's Curse (1944)

Lon Chaney Jr.

Chaney as the mummy Kharis in The Mummy's Curse

The Mummy's Ghost (1944)

Lon Chaney Jr.

As the mummy Kharis in The Mummy's Ghost

Weird Woman (1944)

Lon Chaney Jr. and Evelyn Ankers

Chaney with frequent co-star Evelyn Ankers in Weird Woman, part of Universal's Inner Sanctum series of films

House of Dracula (1945)

Martha O'Driscoll, Lon Chaney Jr., Ludwig Stossel, and Glenn Strange

From the last of Universal's seven Frankenstein horror flicks House of Dracula. Pictured are Martha O'Driscoll, Lon Chaney Jr., Ludwig Stossel, and Glenn Strange

My Favorite Brunette (1947)

Peter Lorre, Bob Hope, and Lon Chaney Jr.

From the Paramount comedy My Favorite Brunette with Bob Hope and Peter Lorre

Behave Yourself! (1951)

Lon Chaney Jr., Farley Granger, and Glenn Anders

From RKO's comedy Behave Yourself! with Farley Granger and Glenn Anders

The Black Castle (1952)

Lon Chaney Jr., Michael Pate, Stephen McNally, and Rita Corday

Scene from The Black Castle with Michael Pate, Stephen McNally, and Rita Corday

Big House, U.S.A. (1955)

Charles Bronson, William Talman, Ralph Meeker, and Lon Chaney Jr.

From the United Artists crime drama Big House, U.S.A. with Charles Bronson, William Talman, and Ralph Meeker

Indestructible Man (1956)

Lon Chaney Jr.

Executed convict Lon Chaney is brought back to life, only to kill again, in Indestructible Man, one of Chaney's best low-budget films of the 1950s

The Defiant Ones (1958)

Lon Chaney Jr.

As Big Sam in the Stanley Kramer drama The Defiant Ones

House of the Black Death (1965)

Lon Chaney Jr., Tom Drake, and Andrea King

With Tom Drake and Andrea King in Jerry Warren's campy horror flick House of the Black Death

Dracula Vs. Frankenstein (1971)

Lon Chaney Jr.

As Groton in Al Adamson's Dracula Vs. Frankenstein, which was Chaney's last film

later years

By the end of the 1940s, Universal had milked its monsters for all they were worth, and the genre faded. Chaney left Universal to freelance and did quite well, working in numerous films throughout the 1950s and 1960s, often of a low-budget nature. Many of Chaney's low-rent horror flicks are now cult classics, including Indestructible Man (1956; with Max Showalter, aka Casey Adams), The Alligator People (1959; with Beverly Garland), Spider Baby (1964; with Carol Ohmart), Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967; with Joi Lansing), and Dracula Vs. Frankenstein (1971; with Anthony Eisley and Regina Carrol).

By the 1960s, years of alcoholism had taken its toll on Chaney's health and career, and in addition Chaney was suffering from a myriad of health problems. His final role came in Al Adamson's cult classic Dracula Vs. Frankenstein. Chaney passed away on July 12, 1973, at the age of 67. He was survived by his second wife, Patsy, two sons from his first marriage, and nine grandchildren.

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Dracula Vs. Frankenstein (1971) with Regina Carrol, Anthony Eisley, Russ Tamblyn, and J. Carrol Naish; directed by Al Adamson
The Female Bunch (1969) with Regina Carrol, Russ Tamblyn, and Leslie McCrae; directed by Al Adamson
Fireball Jungle (1969) with John Russell
Buckskin (1968) with Barbara Hale, Richard Arlen, Wendell Corey, Bill Williams, Barry Sullivan, and John Russell
Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967) with Joi Lansing, Basil Rathbone, and John Carradine
Welcome to Hard Times (1967) with Henry Fonda, Aldo Ray, Janis Paige, and Fay Spain
Gallery of Horrors (1966) with John Carradine
Johnny Reno (1966) with Jane Russell, Dana Andrews, Richard Arlen, and John Agar
Apache Uprising (1966) with Rory Calhoun, Corrine Calvet, Johnny Mack Brown, Richard Arlen, and John Russell
House of the Black Death (1965) with John Carradine, Andrea King, and Dolores Faith
Town Tamer (1965) with Dana Andrews, Bruce Cabot, Coleen Gray, Terry Moore, Richard Arlen, and Sonny Tufts
Black Spurs (1965) with Rory Calhoun, Linda Darnell, Scott Brady, Richard Arlen, and Bruce Cabot
Young Fury (1965) Rory Calhoun, John Agar, Merry Anders, Richard Arlen, and Jody McCrea
Face of the Screaming Werewolf (1964)
Spider Baby (1964) with Carol Ohmart, Jill Banner, Sid Haig, and Quinn Redeker
Witchcraft (1964)
Stage to Thunder Rock (1964) with John Agar, Scott Brady, and Barry Sullivan
Law of the Lawless (1964) with Dale Robertson, Yvonne De Carlo, John Agar, Richard Arlen, and Jody McCrea
The Haunted Palace (1963) with Vincent Price, Debra Paget, Bruno VeSota, and Elisha Cook Jr.
Rebellion in Cuba (1961)
House of Terror (1960)
The Alligator People (1959) with Beverly Garland and Bruce Bennett
Money, Women and Guns (1958) with Jock Mahoney and William Campbell
The Defiant Ones (1958) with Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier
The Cyclops (1957) with Gloria Talbott; directed by Bert I. Gordon
The Black Sleep (1956) with Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, Tor Johnson, and John Carradine
Manfish (1956) with John Bromfield and Barbara Nichols
Daniel Boone, Trail Blazer (1956) with Bruce Bennett
Pardners (1956) with Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Lori Nelson, and Jeff Morrow
Indestructible Man (1956) with Max Showalter
I Died a Thousand Times (1955) with Jack Palance, Shelley Winters, and Lori Nelson
The Indian Fighter (1955) with Kirk Douglas
The Silver Star (1955) with Edgar Buchanan and Marie Windsor
Not as a Stranger (1955) with Olivia de Havilland and Robert Mitchum
Big House, U.S.A. (1955) with Broderick Crawford, Ralph Meeker, and Reed Hadley
The Black Pirates (1954) with Anthony Dexter
The Boy from Oklahoma (1954) with Will Rogers Jr., Nancy Olson, and Merv Griffin
Passion (1954) with Cornel Wilde, Yvonne De Carlo, and Raymond Burr
Casanova's Big Night (1954) with Bob Hope and Joan Fontaine
Jivaro (1954) with Fernando Lamas, Rhonda Fleming, Brian Keith, and Richard Denning
A Lion Is in the Streets (1953) with James Cagney, Barbara Hale, and Anne Francis
Raiders of the Seven Seas (1953) with John Payne, Donna Reed, and Gerald Mohr
Battles of Chief Pontiac (1952) with Lex Barker
The Black Castle (1952) with Boris Karloff and Rita Corday
The Bushwhackers (1952) with John Ireland, Lawrence Tierney, and Dorothy Malone
Springfield Rifle (1952) with Gary Cooper, Phyllis Thaxter, Martin Milner, and David Brian
Thief of Damascus (1952) with Paul Henreid and Jeff Donnell
High Noon (1952) with Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, and Lloyd Bridges
Behave Yourself! (1951) with Farley Granger and Shelley Winters
Bride of the Gorilla (1951) with Raymond Burr, Barbara Payton, Woody Strode, and Tom Conway
Inside Straight (1951) with David Brian, Arlene Dahl, Mercedes McCambridge, and Barbara Billingsley
Flame of Araby (1951) with Jeff Chandler, Maureen O'Hara, Susan Cabot, and Richard Egan
Only the Valiant (1951) with Gregory Peck and Barbara Payton
Once a Thief (1950) with Cesar Romero, June Havoc, and Marie McDonald
Captain China (1949) with John Payne and Gail Russell
There's a Girl in My Heart (1949) with Elyse Knox
16 Fathoms Deep (1948) with Lloyd Bridges
The Counterfeiters (1948) with Hugh Beaumont and Joi Lansing
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) with Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Bela Lugosi, and Glenn Strange
Albuquerque (1948) with Randolph Scott
My Favorite Brunette (1947) with Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, and Peter Lorre
Desert Command (1946) with John Wayne
Pillow of Death (1945) with Brenda Joyce
House of Dracula (1945) with John Carradine, Lionel Atwill, and Glenn Strange
The Daltons Ride Again (1945) with Alan Curtis
Strange Confession (1945) with Brenda Joyce, Lloyd Bridges, and J. Carrol Naish
The Frozen Ghost (1945) with Evelyn Ankers
Here Come the Co-eds (1945) with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
The Mummy's Curse (1944) with Virginia Christine and Peter Coe
House of Frankenstein (1944) with Boris Karloff and John Carradine
Dead Man's Eyes (1944) with Acquanetta
The Mummy's Ghost (1944) with John Carradine
Ghost Catchers (1944) with Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson
Cobra Woman (1944) with Maria Montez, Jon Hall, and Sabu
Weird Woman (1944) with Evelyn Ankers
Calling Dr. Death (1943) with J. Carrol Naish
Son of Dracula (1943) with Louise Allbritton and Evelyn Ankers
Frontier Badmen (1943)
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) with Bela Lugosi, Ilona Massey, and Lionel Atwill
Eyes of the Underworld (1943) with Richard Dix
The Mummy's Tomb (1942) with Dick Foran, Elyse Knox, and Turhan Bey
Overland Mail (1942) a fifteen-chapter serial
The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) with Evelyn Ankers, Ralph Bellamy, and Lionel Atwill
North to the Klondike (1942) with Evelyn Ankers, Broderick Crawford, and Andy Devine
The Wolf Man (1941) with Bela Lugosi, Evelyn Ankers, Claude Rains, and Ralph Bellamy
Badlands of Dakota (1941) with Robert Stack and Frances Farmer
Too Many Blondes (1941) with Rudy Vallee
Riders of Death Valley (1941) with Dick Foran; a fifteen chapter serial
San Antonio Rose (1941) with Jane Frazee and Eve Arden
Billy the Kid (1941) with Robert Taylor and Brian Donlevy
Man Made Monster (1941) with Lionel Atwill and Anne Nagel
North West Mounted Police (1940) with Gary Cooper and Madeleine Carroll
One Million B.C. (1940) with Victor Mature and Carole Landis
Frontier Marshal (1939) with Randolph Scott and John Carradine
Union Pacific (1939) with Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea, and Brian Donlevy
Of Mice and Men (1939) with Burgess Meredith
Charlie Chan in City in Darkness (1939) with Sidney Toler, Lynn Bari, and Leo G. Carroll
Passport Husband (1938)
Road Demon (1938)
Straight, Place and Show (1938) with the Ritz Brothers and Ethel Merman
Josette (1938)
Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938) with Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Don Ameche, Ethel Merman, Jack Haley, and John Carradine
Speed to Burn (1938)
Mr. Moto's Gamble (1938) with Peter Lorre and Lynn Bari
Angel's Holiday (1937) with Jane Withers and Joan Davis
The Lady Escapes (1937)
Life Begins in College (1937) with the Ritz Brothers and Joan Davis
Midnight Taxi (1937) with Brian Donlevy and Gilbert Roland
That I May Live (1937)
Charlie Chan on Broadway (1937)
Wife, Doctor and Nurse (1937)
Wild and Woolly (1937)
Secret Agent X-9 (1937) with Jean Rogers
Cheyenne Rides Again (1937) with Tom Tyler
Ace Drummond (1936) with John 'Dusty' King, Jean Rogers, and Noah Beery Jr.
The Old Corral (1936) with Gene Autry
Rose Bowl (1936) with Buster Crabbe
Undersea Kingdom (1936) with Ray 'Crash' Corrigan; some chapters of this twelve-chapter serial aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000
Singing Cowboy (1936) with Gene Autry
Captain Hurricane (1935)
The Marriage Bargain (1935)
A Scream in the Night (1935)
The Shadow of Silk Lennox (1935)
Sixteen Fathoms Deep (1934)
The Life of Vergie Winters (1934)
Son of the Border (1933)
The Three Musketeers (1933) with John Wayne; a twelve chapter serial
Scarlet River (1933)
Lucky Devils (1933)
The Last Frontier (1932) with Joe Bonomo; a twelve chapter serial

Pistols 'n' Petticoats, 1966-1967 TV series. Chaney portrayed Chief Eagle Shadow. Also starring in this series was Ann Sheridan
13 Demon Street, 1959 TV series
Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans, 1957-1958 TV series. Chaney portrayed Chingachgook

lon chaney jr. links

The Official Web Site of Lon Chaney and Lon Chaney Jr.
Run by members of the Chaney family, this web site features biographical information, photos, and Lon Chaney Jr. memorabilia.

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Watch Lon Chaney Jr's 1944 noir thriller Dead Man's Eyes
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This page premiered June 7, 2002.
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