Thursday, July 1, 2010


By Luella O. Parsons

Los Angeles, April 23, 1932
Will Creighton Chaney, the son of the beloved Lon, make a success too on the screen?

The odds are against him. This is a rather bitter thing to say at the very beginning of a career, but I say the odds are against him because it’s the most difficult thing in the world for the child of a famous star to carve a name for himself or herself in the same line of work.

Outsiders who cannot get into the studio will look at young Chaney with envy; with feeling that he is trading on his father’s name. He will have to be just a little bit better than if he hadn’t had Lon Chaney for a father. It’s true he might never have had his opportunity at Radio studio if he had not been born the son of Lon Chaney, but once in the studio the going is not easy.


Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. could give Creighton Chaney much good advice. He has succeeded in spite of the fact that Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. is his father. Young Doug will tell you it was not so tough being a celebrity in his last picture, “It’s Tough to be Famous,” as it has been in being the son of a world-renowned father.

He had always wanted to be an actor and when he first started every little fault was magnified, every little lack in technique was played up and, believe it or not, there were those who just couldn’t bear to see him succeed.

Other ambitious youngsters envied him his opportunity and insisted on comparing him with his father. So bitter was the feeling that at one time he even considered changing his name.

Young Doug hasn’t won his fame easily, he has won it because if he had been born the son of a truck driver instead of the son of a great actor, he still would have carved a niche in the motion picture industry for himself.


The two Costello girls were taken to the Vitagraph studios by Maurice Costello when they were mere babes. At that time he was one of the greatest matinee idols on the screen. They grew up to know movies and it never occurred to either Dolores or Helene that they could do no other than become screen actresses. Dolores forged ahead first as John Barrymore’s leading lady and later as a star in her own right.

She might have owed Maurice Costello a debt because he taught her the rudiments of acting, but he could not, and probably would not take any credit for her later screen fame.

Leila Hyams, as the daughter of Leila McIntyre and John Hyams, fought against being known as “Little Leila.”

It’s the easiest thing in the world to drift into depending upon someone else, especially your parents, if they are successful. Dozens of really talented and clever young people have amounted to nothing because they happened to have a famous father or mother.

“It took more than a little courage to deliberately give up security and comfort to start out by myself. There were times in the months that followed that I was tempted to go back to my father and mother and beg them to take me into their act. It was only my pride which kept me going. Having made the boast that I could get along myself, I had to make good.”


The difficulties of being a child of famous parents isn’t only of the screen stars but of the children of the executives. Junior Laemmle was laughed at and discredited for months after he joined Universal studio. He had to make “All Quiet on the Western Front” to prove that he wasn’t in his job because his father was the boss.

You won’t hear anyone laughing at Junior today. He has the respect of all the biggest men in the industry, and where many companies are in sad condition it is generally admitted that Universal is one of the few that is on the right side of the ledger.

You can look over the list of children whose parents have made a mark for themselves in the movies and you can talk to each one of them and they will tell you, it’s the toughest thing in the world to get recognition when you are the son or daughter of famous parents.


Kelley said...

Thank you!

Mark said...

One of the best blogs on the web. Please keep it coming! This is my first comment, but I've spent hours and hours enjoying this site. Thanks!

GAH1965 said...

Thanks so much for the kind words. I only wish I had much more time to devote to it. I love uncovering these gems as much as you love reading them.

billy said...

I love Lon Jr.