Back to Silent Stars Who Transitioned to Talkies
Lon Chaney, Sr.
As the child of two deaf parents, Chaney learned to excel at pantomime. He spent a decade touring in vaudeville before becoming a contract player at Universal in 1912. He became renowned for his ability to transform himself through make-up and movement. He made several movies with co-stars Dorothy Phiillips and William Stowell. He finally broke through into major stardom with 'The Miracle Man' in 1919. Throughout the 1920s, the "Man of a Thousand Faces" was known for playing grotesque yet sympathetic characters, most unforgettably in 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' and 'The Phantom of the Opera.' In 1930, he remade his hit 1925 crime drama 'The Unholy Three' as a sound film, voicing five characters, including a two female roles and a parrot. His vocal versatility might have made him as successful in the sound era as he had been in silents, but he died of throat cancer at 47 just weeks after the release of his only talkie.