The original petition was started in 1992 by Chaney Enterprises, Inc. for United States Postage Stamps to honor Lon Chaney and Lon Chaney, Jr. for their collective contributions to the entertainment industry. This endeavor was first mentioned to us by Jerry Weinstein our attorney and friend as a way to continue keeping in the public’s awareness the legacy of one of Hollywood’s first acting families. We agreed and initiated the petition process collecting signatures showing support from our local congressman Al McCandless, and fans across the country.
Later, after our original petition was filed, the United States Postal Service informed us they wanted to include Lon Chaney along with other great stars of the Silent Screen. We were thrilled and honored for this opportunity but concerned about our original petition that was to commemorate both Chaney’s together.
Although we knew in our hearts we couldn’t have Lon Chaney excluded in this commemoration, we ultimately agreed to have him join his contemporaries, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Rudolph Valentino and other greats of the silent film era. At the time it was a tough decision as we were uncertain our effort would fall short for Lon Chaney, Jr.
The “Stars of the Silent Screen” stamps were issued April 27, 1994 in San Francisco, Ca. in conjunction with the opening of the 37th San Francisco International Film Festival at the historic Castro Theatre. The colorful caricatures on these stamps were depicted by the famed New York artist Al Hirschfeld, who spent the last seven decades drawing key figures of Broadway and Hollywood.
Knowing my great-grandfather had performed on stage in the bay area and that his films had shown at the same theatre made it a very special occasion. I had the opportunity to meet Karl Malden and family descendants of the other honoree’s. Shown at the stamp release was “Safety Last” starring Harold Lloyd, which was accompanied by Dennis James on the Mighty Wurlitzer organ. His performance and the sound effects that emanated from the organ in combination with the film were incredible.
I then journeyed on to Aptos and stayed with my cousin Jeff and his wife Karen, who gave birth to a beautiful set of twins that weekend. I was able to see the twins, Kort and Eric before I left. What a great and memorable time.
Jerry Weinstein who was instrumental in this endeavor and who also submitted the petition for the estates of Chaney, Karloff and Lugosi lived to see both campaigns succeed, but unfortunately passed away shortly after the release of the “Classic Movie Monster” stamps.
For Jerry, his family and friends, I would like to dedicate Lon Chaney’s USPS Silent Screen Star stamp to him for his friendship, guidance, support and assistance. Jerry, we miss you and God Bless.