Lon Chaney’s birthday is April 1: he was born in 1883 and passed away in 1930. Lon Chaney had only made one talking film, The Unholy Three (1930), but he was one of the most popular actors of his time.
Lon Chaney is remembered in Brian Selznick’s fiction book for children, The Boy of a Thousand Faces (2000). The story is about ten-year-old Alonzo King, who “was born on Halloween in a town where no one believed in monsters.” But Alonzo did: one of his favorite actors was Lon Chaney, and his favorite film was Chaney’s Phantom of the Opera (1925). Lon Chaney was known as “The Man of a Thousand Faces.” Young Alonzo wanted to be known as “The Boy of a Thousand Faces”—even though he only had 23 at the present. So Alonzo came up with an idea: why not write a letter to Mr. Shadows, the host of Alonzo’s favorite late-night spooky movie program, Monsters at Midnight? Surely Mr. Shadows could help him think of more. But then The Beast came to town, and Alonzo forgot about his sent letter—because all of a sudden, everyone believed in his town believed in monsters!
A bit of trivia: one of the main characters in The Boy of a Thousand Faces is named Mr. Blake. Brian Selznick chose this name as one of Lon Chaney’s premier biographers is Michael Blake. And the inside of the front and back covers are decorated with the famous film monster postage stamps from 1997—including Chaney’s Phantom of the Opera.