Sunday, November 17, 2013

But Not as Lon Chaney, Jr -- November 17, 2013

Movie Classic, April, 1932
This post is part of  the Chaney Blogathon hosted by Fritzi at Movies Silently and Jo at The Last Drive In.   Be sure to click on most images to see larger versions.  

Due to the untimely demise of my trusty Dell desktop, I did not complete this entry to the blogathon to my satisfaction. 

Actor Lon Chaney and his son Creighton, who reluctantly went by the name Lon Chaney, Jr, were both versatile actors who became closely identified with the horror genre.

In the first of four posts for the Chaney blogathon, I shared some newspaper and magazine items that cast light on Lon Chaney's early life and career.  In  my second post, I covered his later career and his untimely death.  In this my third post, I will display some stories that show Creighton's reluctance to be billed as Lon Chaney, Jr.  In my fourth post, I will write about Creighton's later career.

Leonidas Chaney was born in 1883 in Colorado Springs.  His parents were deaf and this must have helped both him and his son become good at pantomime. He went into show business in 1902.  In 1905 he married singer Cleva Creighton and they had a child, Creighton Chaney, the next year.  In 1913, Cleva went to a Los Angeles theater where Lon was working and attempted suicide.  Later they divorced and had a tussle over custody of Creighton.   Lon Chaney died in 1930 and Creighton resisted offers to appear in movies as Lon Chaney, Jr.  

New Movie Magazine, February, 1932
Creighton Chaney resisted using makeup.  Later on, his most famous character was Larry Talbot, the Wolf Man.   

The title of this post comes from an April, 1932 story in  Movie Classic.  Creighton Chaney's father was opposed to Creighton becoming an actor.  " father and I talked it over and agreed that one actor in the family was enough.  If he had lived, I would have gone on with my work as a manufacturer of plumbing supplies.  Now that he is gone, I see no reason why I shouldn't try movies." 

"I have discussed it with my stepmother -- who is the only mother I have ever known." 

"But I don't expect to follow in my father's footsteps.  There never was but one Lon Chaney; there never will be another one.  That is one reason why I have steadily refused to call myself 'Lon Chaney, Junior' -- though if I had taken this name, as people urged me, it would have meant several hundred dollars more on my salary check from the start." 

Photoplay, March, 1932
Creighton Chaney started out in movies doing extra work.

Photoplay, April, 1932
"And wouldn't his father be proud of this lad who wants to make a name for himself and not trade on another's reputation." 

New Movie Magazine, May, 1932
 New Movie Magazine reported that when Lon Chaney's son "signed with RKO, one of the things he insisted on in his contract was that he always will be billed as 'Creighton Chaney' and never, under any circumstances, as 'Lon Chaney, Jr.'"

New Movie Magazine, June, 1932
 "Hollywood Kindergarten" talks about several new players including George Raft, Gloria Stuart and Bruce Cabot.  It mentions that The Roadhouse Murder was Creighton Chaney's first movie.

Movie Classic, June, 1932
 A few articles I have found mentioned that some people thought of Creighton Chaney as being a new Clark Gable.  I find that hard to see, but that is the subject of this article, which also proposes Bruce Cabot and George Brent.  "He will be known as Creighton Chaney; the 'Lon Chaney, Jr.,' idea is definitely out." 

Film Daily, July 15, 1932
 " less than Creighton Chaney is starred ... the son of Lon Chaney..." in the serial The Last Frontier

Film Daily, August 29, 1932
 Creighton Chaney received top billing in this epic ad for the RKO 12-chapter serial The Last Frontier

Cine-Mundial, November, 1932
 This rare glamor shot of Creighton Chaney appeared in Cine-Mundial.  It is publicity for The Last Frontier

Film Daily, September 16, 1932
Creighton Chaney returned to supporting roles in films like Bird of Paradise with Dolores Del Rio.  He is billed fourth in this ad.

Movie Classic, January, 1933

Nancy Pryor's article asks if Creighton Chaney will suffer the way his father did.  Creighton says he will not use a double.  The story claims that in The Last Frontier, Creighton "dislocated his hip, fractured a thumb and broke a rib!"  And it says he did not see a doctor after.  He asks the author "don't say anything comparing me with my father... There isn't any comparison between us.  Dad was an artist -- a real actor.  I'm just a fellow trying to get along in the movies.  I'd rather be compared to anybody else but my Dad, because I know I'm not worthy of that comparison."

Film Daily, January 26, 1935
In 1935, Creighton "legally changed his name to Lon Chaney, Jr., to perpetuate the memory of his father."  And perhaps to help his career. 

Picture Play, February, 1936
By 1936, Lon Chaney, Jr "emerges from screen obscurity."
Film Daily, December 13, 1939
In 1939, Creighton played the role of Lenny in Hal Roach's production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.  This was a high point of his career.

This post was part of the Chaney Blogathon, hosted by Fritzi at Movies Silently and Jo at The Last Drive In.  Thank you to both of them for all the hard work.  Thank you to everyone who visited and I encourage you to read as many posts as you can.  

My posts for the blogathon:

Chaney Outchaneys Chaney
The Face of a Thousand Memories -- Lon Chaney
But Not as Lon Chaney, Jr
Listen to That Box Office Howl! - Lon Chaney, Jr


Unknown said...

And thanks again for another fun trip back in time! That glamor shot was a fascinating fin.

Joe Thompson said...

Thank you, Fritzi. Isn't it nice to know that Creighton wasn't always seen as a big creepy guy?

Kristina said...

absolutely fascinating! Like what you've collected here,I love just perusing clippings and finds from the news & mags. That glamour shot is kind of surprising, I've never seen Lon promoted that way. I'll be back later to check out your other Chaney posts, and your blog in general. Just wanted to say I'm really glad I found this new-to-me blog. Very nice work.

Joe Thompson said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it Kristina. There have been a lot of good posts on this blogathon. Thank you for the kind words.