Lon Chaney, Jr.

Horror Film Star, 1906–1973

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About the Book

Though he was haunted by the shadow of his legendary father and devastated by alcoholism, Lon Chaney, Jr., carved out a very successful film career as Universal’s leading horror star in the 1940s, and later as a leading character actor in Westerns, dramas, and on television. While rightly focused on the career of the underrated actor, this study also explores his life and times.

About the Author(s)

Don G. Smith is an associate professor in history and philosophy of education at Eastern Illinois University. He has written for numerous publications, including Filmfax, Scarlet Street, Movie Collector’s World and Midnight Marquee. He lives in Riverview Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Don G. Smith
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 248
Bibliographic Info: photos, references, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004 [1996]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1813-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0396-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix
Preface      vii

1. The Early Years (1906–1931)      4
2. Learning His Craft (1931–1938)      10
3. Of Mice and Men (1939–1940)      24
4. Man-Made Monster and The Wolf Man (1941)      32
5. The Frankenstein Series      42
6. The Mummy Series      59
7. The Inner Sanctum Series      68
8. Son of Dracula and Other Nonseries Universal Films (1941–1946)      81
9. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and Supporting Roles      98
10. Character Gems (1952–1955)      111
11. Horror Films, Westerns, and Television (1956–1962)      129
12. The A.C. Lyles Years (1963–1965)      156
13. Exploitation, Decline, and Death (1966–1973)      172
14. The Summing Up      187

Notes      193
Filmography      213
Selected Bibliography      221
Index      223

Book Reviews & Awards

“welcome…extensive…comprehensive”—Classic Images; “exhaustive…well researched”—Scarlet Street; “excellent…insightful…filmography…is extremely useful and intriguing. Reference books of this quality and affection are rare. This tribute is long overdue and welcome”—Penguin Comics; “a valuable biography of a seldom discussed icon…recommended”—Midnight Marquee; “useful information regarding the actor’s mainstream work and his lesser-known television performances, including an invaluable section devoted to them in the filmography”—Filmfax; “portrays a decent person who was an effective actor, and who was haunted by such despair that the hopelessness of his movie roles seemed the lesser of two evils”—San Francisco Examiner Magazine; “the first entire book on Lon Chaney…a welcome release”—Psychotronic; “a fitting tribute to Chaney’s importance to horror films”—The Other Side of Show Business; “required reading for fans of Golden Age horror”—Film Review; “admirable job”—Little Shop of Horrors; “good”—Videoscope; “refreshing”—Cornerstone Magazine.