Lon Chaney Jr.

Lon Chaney Jr.

Lon Chaney Jr. was born Creighton Tull Chaney in Oklahoma City in what was then Oklahoma Territory. Following the death of his father, himself a stage actor, in 1930, Chaney opted to pursue a career in performance. Following a handful of minor parts in feature films, Chaney began to accrue lead roles. Early instances of this included "Sixteen Fathoms Deep" (1934) and "A Scream in the Night" (1935). Chaney's first big show of success was in a film adaptation of "Of Mice and Men" (1939), in which he starred as Lennie Small following a portrayal of the character on stage shortly prior. Showcasing a proclivity for horror, Chaney appeared in "The Man-Made Monster" (1941) before landing what would become his career-defining role as the titular creature in "The Wolf Man" (1941). Chaney would play other monsters in films like "The Ghost of Frankenstein" (1942), "The Mummy's Tomb" (1942), and "Son of Dracula" (1943), but invariably returned to the role of the Wolf Man in spin-off pictures including "House of Frankenstein" (1944) and "House of Dracula" (1945), as well as the parody venture "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948). Though he was mostly offered supporting parts from this point forward, he found substantial work in projects like the Western "High Noon" (1952) and the sci-fi film "Indestructible Man" (1956), as well as on the Western serial "Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans" (Syndication 1957). The 1960s primarily saw Chaney take on one-off television appearances, though notable film exploits included "Spider Baby or, the Maddest Story Ever Told" (1967). His final films were "Dracula vs. Frankenstein" (1971) and the crime-drama "The Female Bunch" (1971). Chaney died of heart failure at age 67 on July 12, 1973 in San Clemente, CA.