Tuesday, June 5, 2018

New Portrait of Lon Chaney, Jr


This is my new, privately commisioned portrait of one of my favorite actors, Lon Chaney, Jr. It'll be included it this years Halloween issue of Filmfax magazine.


Lon Chaney, Jr was a wonderful horror movie star and character actor.  My friend, the crazed comedian and fellow classic horror-film fanatic Gilbert Gottfried agrees, in fact Gilbert has gone on record that Lon Chaney, Jr is his favorite actor. He even has a Chaney, Jr. life mask on display in his apartment. Gilbert and I would watch Chaney, Jr in countless films back at my small apartment in the East Village in the eighties, (I had an early VCR and Gilbert lived near-by). At that time I had acquired a fairly large collection of vintage schlocky VHS horror films, including one of our favorites, The Manster, aka The Split. but Gilbert usually insisted on films with Lon Chaney, Jr. So, until my wife Kathy would return from work in the late afternoon,  we would both sit in respectful silence and watch, and re-watch The Indestructible Man, The Cyclops, The Haunted Strangler, Dracula vs Frankenstein, or the Route 66 TV episode “Lizard’s Leg and Owlet’s Wing”, which we enjoyed for the conclusion: When Boris Karloff is finally in his old Frankenstein makeup, and Chaney, Jr is once again transformed into the Wolfman, the best they could come up with for Peter Lorre was to have him donning a top hat.  Chaney, Jr. went on record as being proudest of portraying The Wolfman. He felt, unlike the Frankenstein monster or the mummy, that he owned the Lawrence Talbot/Wolfman character because no other actor ever played him.  I’ve always felt he had a great face, especially as he aged, sad, weary, expressive and unlike his father, didn’t really need to be covered over with heavy makeup, although he no doubt felt the urge to continue the Chaney tradition. My painting  features Chaney, Jr sans makeup, baggy-eyed, red-nosed and bloated, after his fortunes had turned, but with the horror movie actors seemingly never-ending desire to send chills down your spine. Old comedians still want to make you laugh. Old horror film actors still want to make you scream.

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