In 1906 Creighton Chaney arrived in the world nearly stillborn after a difficult delivery. His father, Lon Chaney, revived him by plunging him into the frigid waters of Belle Isle Lake. Young Chaney later made his debut at the age of six months as a prop in his father’s stage act.
Chaney worked as a stunt man and extra under his given name. When he realized studios were more receptive to him as the son of Lon Chaney, he used the name Lon Chaney Jr. professionally. As the Wolf Man, Chaney Jr.’s transformation was an arduous four-hour process while the gradual changes in his make-up were made and filmed. The removal of the layers of yak hair and make-up took a painful 45 minutes.
Though Chaney Jr.’s character perishes at the end of The Wolf Man, the popularity of the character caused Universal to resurrect the werewolf to live again in four more movies. With a career that spanned nearly four decades and included more than 150 film credits, Chaney Jr. was the only actor to portray, the Wolf Man, Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and the Mummy.