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Lon Chaney Jr. was known for being the only actor to play all of the "big four" monsters: the Mummy, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein and Dracula.
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He soon became known for being the only actor to bring to life all four of the "big four" monsters: the Mummy, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein and Dracula. (Chaney portrayed these first three characters in several films throughout the 1940s and '50s, and earned his Dracula acting credit with 1943's Son of Dracula). This period would mark the height of Chaney's on-screen career.
After Chaney left Universal, he largely performed in character roles in smaller films—more than likely a result of his typecasting and his battles with alcoholism. Around this same time, Chaney began a serious battle with throat cancer—which had killed his father—and eventually took to playing mute or taciturn characters. Producer Stanley Kramer began casting the actor in supporting roles in his classic films, including High Noon (1952), Not as a Stranger (1955) and The Defiant Ones (1958).
Lon Chaney Jr. was married twice and fathered two children: Lon Ralph Chaney and Ronald Creighton Chaney. He died of liver cancer on July 12, 1973, in San Clemente, California.
By the end of his lifetime, Lon Chaney Jr. had more than proven that he'd inherited much more than a last name from his famous father. Chaney became widely renowned as a gifted performer in his own right, creating a unique screen persona through fantastic characters and make-up that would have made his father proud.
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