Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces (#1602)
This "man of a thousand faces," Hollywood's first great leading character actor - remembered for The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Phantom of the Opera and Tell It to the Marines - developed his craft by mimicking and doing pantomime to amuse his deaf parents. Born in Colorado on April Fool's Day 1883, Leonidas F. Chaney began in vaudeville, established himself as an actor, a director and a screenwriter, and was the unique master of horror - before it became a formalized genre in the 1930s. Chaney was renowned for the almost masochistic lengths to which he would go in order to portray his " injured souls." In Hunchback, for instance, he wore 70 pounds on his shoulders, covered his eyeball with an eggshell membrane and contorted his body into a straitjacket. A genius with make-up, he was able to convincingly transform himself into anything at all - the old Hollywood quip was, "Don't step on that spider, it may be Lon Chaney!" [86 minutes]
This episode has not aired in the past few months on Iowa Public Television.
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Series Description: AMERICAN MASTERS is an ongoing series of award-winning primetime specials examining the lives, works, and creative processes of our most outstanding cultural artists. Created in 1984 by Susan Lacy and produced by Thirteen/WNET for national public television, the series is both a celebration and an exploration of creativity in America. Consisting of more than 250 hours of programming to date, AMERICAN MASTERS is a growing film library documenting the role important individuals, groups, and movements have played in the formation of our cultural identity.
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