in full Alonso Chaney
(born April 1, 1883, Colorado Springs, Colo., U.S.—died Aug. 26, 1930, Los Angeles, Calif.) U.S. film actor. Born to deaf-mute parents, he learned pantomime and became an actor at 17. He moved to Hollywood in 1912 and played supporting roles until The Miracle Man
(1919) made him a star. Known as “the man of a thousand faces,” he was famous for his ability to transform himself through the use of makeup. He often played grotesque or dual characters in films directed by Tod Browning
, including The Unholy Three
(1925). His other silent films include The Hunchback of Notre Dame
(1923), The Phantom of the Opera
(1925), and London After Midnight
(1927). His son Lon Chaney, Jr. (1905–73), appeared in numerous horror films in such repeated roles as the Wolf Man and the Mummy and, notably, in Of Mice and Men
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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.