Lon Chaney: The Man Behind The Thousand Faces

Lon Chaney: The Man Behind The Thousand Faces

Lon Chaney, Hollywood’s “Man of a Thousand Faces,” was a mystery to the public. He granted few interviews, rarely attended movie premieres, and was known for saying that “between pictures there is no Lon Chaney!”

More than six decades after Lon Chaney’s death, the actor and the man behind the faces come into focus thanks to the efforts of author Michael F. Blake. Blake, a Film and Television makeup artist, spent seven years researching every aspect of Chaney’s life and film career. His knowledge of makeup allows him to banish the many myths surrounding how Chaney created his thousand faces and set the record straight.

The author also gives us a look into the man who guarded his privacy from the public. Off screen, he was closer to the film crew than the stars, often helping them out when the need came up. Chaney hardly lived like a movie star, as his homes were conservative but warm. Director Tod Browning called him “the star who lived like a clerk,” dressing more like a business man, with his familiar glasses and cap. He avoided Hollywood parties, living quietly with his wife in Hollywood, and later Beverly Hills. Away from the studio, Chaney was a passionate fly-fisherman, and an amateur cameraman. Despite never getting past the fourth grade, he was asked to author the section of film makeup for the Encyclopedia Britannica, and was a recognized authority on prison reform.

As the San Diego Union-Tribune noted in its review, “If you care at all about silent pictures, Lon Chaney, about bravura acting and about film makeup, the book is invaluable and perhaps definitive.”

Praise for Lon Chaney: Man Behind the Thousand Faces:

“This excellent – and magnificently illustrated – book is an indispensable companion piece for the fan committed to tracking them down.” − Sarasota Herald Tribune

“The result of Blake’s industriousness and dedication is a complete, very readable Chaney biography.” – Filmfax

“It is chock-a-block with splendid stills of Chaney in and out of character.” – Palm Beach Post

“And I would surmise that if Chaney himself could read Blake’s book he’d appreciate the loving devotion to detail.” – Cult Movies

Lon Chaney Photo Gallery