Home > Deaf History > Lon Chaney from Deaf Family

Lon Chaney from Deaf Family

October 14, 2007

Written by Fookem and Bug

I am writing about Lon Chaney He was one of the most versatile and powerful actors of early cinema. He is best remembered for his characterizations of tortured, often grotesque and afflicted characters, and his groundbreaking artistry with film makeup. We’ve learned that he was Child of Deaf Adults (CODA).

Lon Chaney

Father: Frank H. Chaney (deaf mute)

Mother: Emma Alice Kennedy (deaf mute)

Wife: Frances Chaney

Son: Lon Chaney, Jr

Brother: (John)

Lon Chaney, Jr.

His father, Frank H. Chaney, was not born deaf, but was rendered so by a childhood illness when he was not quite two. He ultimately became a successful barber, and always claimed he could remember some sounds. His mother, the former Emma Alice Kennedy, was born deaf, and was a teacher at a school for the deaf before her marriage. When her most famous son was nine years old, she was stricken with inflammatory rheumatism which left her an invalid. Lon Chaney himself was the second of four children, three boys and a girl. All of his siblings survived him, and were generously provided for in his will. As a child of deaf adults Chaney was skilled in pantomime. He entered a stage career in 1902. In years following, Chaney traveled with popular Vaudeville and theatrical acts.

The Lon Chaney Theater in Colorado Springs, Co., (221 East Kiowa Colorado Springs, CO 80903, phone: (719) 578-6652) is named for one of that city’s most famous native sons.

While several American Presidents have only a single postage stamp commemorating them, Lon Chaney has two different stamps.

This 29¢ stamp, released in 1991, was one of a series of 10 stamps commemorating “Stars of the Silent Screen.” In addition to Chaney, Rudolph Valentino, Clara Bow, Charlie Chaplin, John Gilbert, Zasu Pitts, Harold Lloyd, Theda Bara, Buster Keaton, and the Keystone Cops had their own stamps. The series of stamps was drawn by New York cartoonist Al Hirschfeld who, coincidentally, is married to film star Dolly Haas.

This 32¢ stamp, released just before Halloween in 1997, featured “Classic Movie Monsters” with Chaney as the Phantom of the Opera, Boris Karloff in two stamps as Frankenstein’s monster and The Mummy, Bela Lugosi as Dracula, and Lon Chaney, Jr. as The Wolfman.

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/newslog/march2004/history/chaney.html (An official historic site)


Categories: Deaf History
  1. Jean Boutcher
    October 14, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    We should have a stamp in honor of Bernard Bragg, Gilbert Eastman, and Phyllis Frelich! I saw
    Frelich twice in Broadway during my days at New York University and hail her as a rara avis! Had she taken a role in “Children of Less God” in Hollywood, she would have won the “Best Actress”

  2. October 14, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    I never knew that it was stamp of 32 cent since it was 1997. I never knew and never pay attention at all..

    I am surprised to learn more about the guy were deaf and very interesting!

  3. October 14, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    Your written article found me in the amazement that Lon Chaney was a Child of Deaf Adults!
    It must be very, very interesting! =)

    Hats off to you!

  4. October 14, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    There was a movie made of Lon Chaney’s life and his deaf parents are portrayed in it, showing how he was inspired to visual acting from them. I remember seeing this film as one of the earliest Captioned Films for the Deaf; James Cagney acted the role of Lon Chaney. Sign language is shown in the movie as well.

  5. scott47
    October 14, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    I’ve seen a couple of his movies. He was a great actor and I have a lot of respect for him. Check out my blog of how to earn money online

  6. October 17, 2007 at 2:26 am

    Now, that is 258! Thanks for writing this post, Fookem and Bug! I appreciate learning new things about Deaf (and CODA) history!

  7. October 17, 2007 at 8:07 am

    Deaf and Proud……

  8. Domenica
    October 19, 2007 at 10:33 am

    The Lon Chaney Phantom of the Opera stamp, the stamp has hidden images in it, which can only been seen with a decoder. The hidden images are masks.

  1. October 14, 2007 at 6:23 pm
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