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“Dracula” Director Tod Browning Dead at 80

Oct. 9, 1962 - Tod Browning (pictured right with Helen Chandler and Bela Lugosi in 1930), who directed scores of Hollywood movies for many years until 1939, died Saturday. He was 80 years old. Mr. Browning directed the late Lon Chaney in his masterpiece, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” and other films of strange character portrayal. He was credited with having been the man who first recognized Chaney’s genius as a contortionist and master of bizarre makeup. Mr. Browning was born at Louisville, Ky., and joined the carnival show at 16. He did odd jobs and filled in as a stage manager and performer. He became a contortionist with a vaudeville act and then an expert in old-time black-face comedy work. In 1912, he joined the Biograph motion-picture studio as a slapstick comedian. A year later, he started directing. In 1931, Mr. Browning directed the late Bela Lugosi in “Dracula,” which a reviewer called “far superior to the ordinary mystery drama.” The director made use of many new ideas, particularly in sound, to produce a sense of terror in the audience.

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