‘Man Of A Thousand Faces,’ Silent Film Star Lon Chaney, Has Colorado Roots

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Photo: Silent film actor Lon Chaney, Phantom of the Opera
Colorado Springs native Lon Chaney in the 1925 silent film "Phantom of the Opera."

"The Man of a Thousand Faces" was silent film star Lon Chaney's moniker. Born in Colorado Springs to deaf parents, Chaney learned early how to communicate through facial expressions and hand gestures. He became known for his ability to transform himself into bizarre or grotesque characters -- to the point of being unrecognizable. Two examples of this are the 1920s films "The Phantom of the Opera" and "The Unholy Three." Both screen at the Denver Silent Film Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday at the Alamo Drafthouse cinema in Littleton.

David W. Menefee wrote the book "The First Male Stars: Men of the Silent Era," which includes a section on Chaney. He spoke with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel about the actor's life and career.



Watch the famous "Unmasking Scene" from the silent film "The Phantom of the Opera":