“There’s nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight.” — Lon Chaney
The Penalty (1920)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923). With Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, Kate Lester, Tully Marshall, Brandon Hurst, Winifred Bryson, Raymond Hatton, Nigel De Brullier, Gladys Brockwell, Eulalie Jensen and Ernest Torrence.
“The role of the hunchback in ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ was more a matter of makeup. It required several hours to put on the makeup but the acting called for less physical discomfort although I was forced to keep my body distorted and at an uncomfortable position.” — Lon Chaney
Photo: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923). With Patsy Ruth Miller
“The history of Lon Chaney is the history of unrequited loves. He brings that part of you out into the open, because you fear that you are not loved, you fear that you never will be loved, you fear there is some part of you that’s grotesque, that the world will turn away from.” — Ray Bradbury
Photo: He Who Gets Slapped (1924)
With Ford Sterling in a behind-the-scenes photo for He Who Gets Slapped (1924).
“So Lon Chaney moves like a lonely ghost amid the stark and impressive realism of the men he creates upon the shadow sheet. If you know him on the screen, you know him as well as anyone but his wife and his son and his director. But it must be said that they love him very dearly.” – Ivan St. Johns, Photoplay Magazine (1927).
Photo: The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
The Phantom of the Opera (1925). With Mary Philbin and Norman Kerry.
“I am not temperamental. I have been in the show business too long to be temperamental. I am a business man as well as an actor and I think temperament in a great many instances is not due to a person wanting to be temperamental, but is caused so many times by illness, or trouble with the studio.” – Lon Chaney in 1927.
According to historian Michael F. Blake, Chaney feuded with director Rupert Julian during the making of Phantom of the Opera. In fact, tension got so bad that he stopped talking to Julian altogether (which explains why IMDb lists Chaney as an uncredited co-director). When Cameraman Charles van Enger tried to give Chaney directions via Julian, Chaney’s patent response was, “Tell him to go to hell.”
“He was the hardest working person in the studio. There wasn’t a thing he wouldn’t turn a hand to. He’d help move props, lights or even make-up the extras. It was the trouper’s spirit of him. “ — Tod Browning (left) with Lon Chaney on The Road To Mandalay (1926).
The Unknown (1927). With Joan Crawford.
“My whole career has been devoted to keeping people from knowing me.” — Lon Chaney
“I loathe curiosity seekers. The people who are so darn anxious to get a look at what is behind the scenes. What does it mean to them? Nothing, except possible disillusionment.” — Lon Chaney
Source: Elza Shallert (1927)
“For Chinese makeup, use bits of library mending tissue to draw back the corners of the eyes, thus giving a slant to them. Cover with ‘ground’ color and then paint the eyebrows with an upward tilt. A number of light black lines downward from the inner corners of the eyes and upward from the outer corners accentuate the slant.” — Lon Chaney
Photo: Mr. Wu (1927)
“I hope I shall never be accused of striving merely for horrible effects.” — Lon Chaney, shown, here, in a still from the lost film London After Midnight (1927).
“Professionally hideous.” — Lon Chaney, when asked about his line of work.
Photo: London After Midnight (1927)
“I wanted to remind people that the lowest types of humanity may have within them the capacity for supreme self-sacrifice. The dwarfed, misshapen beggar of the streets may have the noblest ideals….These are the stories which I wish to do.” – Lon Chaney
“The chief thing for any actor to remember is that it wasn’t his brains that got him to stardom. It was only his acting ability. He isn’t paid to think about production plans and when he starts he usually sinks his whole career.” – Lon Chaney
Photographer: Clarence Sinclair Bull
Where East is East (1929). With Lupe Vélez.
“Phantom of the Opera.” 2000. Artist: Maila Nurmi, aka “Vampira.” 9″ x 11″ pencil and watercolor sketch.