On this Day in Movie History, August 26, 1930: Lon Chaney Dies

It was on this day, August 26, 1930, American actor Lon Chaney Sr. died. It was during the filming of Thunder in the winter of 1929, Chaney developed pneumonia. In late 1929 he was diagnosed with bronchial lung cancer, a condition that was exacerbated when artificial snow, made out of cornflakes, lodged in his throat during filming creating a serious infection. Despite aggressive treatment, his condition gradually worsened, and seven weeks after the release of the remake of The Unholy Three, his only “talkie.” He died of a throat hemorrhage. He was forty seven.

Chaney is known for his starring roles in such silent horror films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera. His ability to transform himself using makeup techniques he developed earned him the nickname “The Man of a Thousand Faces.”

His death was deeply mourned by his family, the film industry, and his fans. His portrayal of a tough-as-nails marine drill instructor in Tell It to the Marines (1926), one of his favorite films, earned him the affection of the US Marine Corps, who made him their first honorary member from the motion picture industry. The US Marine Corps provided a chaplain and Honor Guard for his funeral.

He was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, in Glendale, California, next to the crypt of his father. His wife Hazel was interred there upon her death in 1933. For unknown reasons, Chaney’s crypt has remained unmarked.

1909 – Jim Davis (actor: Inferno in Paradise, Don’t Look Back: The Story of Leroy ‘Satchel’ Page, Little Big Horn, The Outcast; died Apr 26, 1981)

1917 – Jan Clayton (actress: Lassie, Pantomime Quiz; died Aug 28, 1983)

1919 – Ronny Graham (Ronald Montcrief Stringer) (singer, actor: Chico and the Man, The New Bill Cosby Show, The Hudson Brothers Show, The Bob Crane Show; died July 4, 1999)

1980 – Macaulay Culkin (actor: Home Alone series, Getting Even with Dad, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, The Good Son, My Girl, Uncle Buck, Only the Lonely, The Pagemaster, Richie Rich)


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