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 Lon Chaney. He was born Creighton Tull Chaney, began acting under that name, and was first credited as "Lon Chaney, Jr." only in 1935, as a studio marketing ploy by a small production outfit.
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, the brown-eyed Chaney starred in the title role of The Wolf Man for Universal Pictures Co. Inc., which characterization and company would typecast him for the rest of his life. He maintained a career in Universal horror movies over the next few years, replaying the Wolf Man in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein; Frankenstein's monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein; Kharis the mummy in The Mummy's Tomb, The Mummy's Ghost and The Mummy's Curse and Dracula in Son of Dracula, generally regarded as his only other significant performance in a Universal picture after the original The Wolf Man. Universal also starred him in a series of psychological mysteries tied in with the Inner Sanctum radio series. There were also attempts to star him in western hero roles, such as the serial Overland Mail, but the six-foot, 220-pound actor often just appeared as mundane heavies. After leaving Universal, he worked sporadically, in part due to his typecasting, in part because of a drinking problem and, in later years, in part because of the ravages of throat cancer. It was because of the cancer that he played, in his final feature film, Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971), a mute zombie named Groton who was Dr. Frankenstein's assistant.
He became quite popular with baby boomers, however, after Universal released its backlog of horror films to television in 1956 and Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine regularly focused on his films; and he was honoured by appearing on one of a series of United States postage stamps portraying movie monsters, as the Wolf Man, in 1997 (Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein monster and The Mummy, Bela Lugosi as Dracula, and Lon Chaney, Sr. as The Phantom of the Opera made up the rest of that series). Married twice, he is survived by a grandson, Ron Chaney, who attends film conventions and graciously discusses his grandfather's life and film career.
List of Films of Creighton Chaney/Lon Chaney Jr.