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Chaney, Lon(chā`nē), 1883–1930, American film actor, b. Colorado Springs, Colo. Chaney was the son of deaf-mute parents. He made more than 150 silent films. A master of the use of grotesque, distorting makeup, he is best remembered for his work in horror films such as The Phantom of the Opera (1925). His son, Lon Chaney, Jr., 1907–73, made many horror films and westerns.
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Chaney, (Alonso) Lon(1883–1930) movie actor; born in Colorado Springs, Colo. Child of deaf-mute parents, he honed his skills as a silent-film actor by having to communicate with them. He toured as a song-and-dance man before making his first movie (1914). After the success of The Miracle Man (1919), he went on to play a series of spine-chilling grotesques such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1924) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). His skill at makeup and miming gained him the name, "the Man of a Thousand Faces." He died of throat cancer right after completing his first talkie, The Unholy Three (1930).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.