Rondo Hatton was a non-actor who made a minor blip on the film scene over fifty years ago because of his appearance. Yet his name, his face, and the name of his signature character, the Creeper (only used in three movies), have each become cultural icons, and not just in this country.
Rondo was a nice looking, slight, athletic young man in Tampa, Florida. In his late teens he began showing the first effects of acromegaly (pituitary giantism which strikes late in life). During army service in WWI the distorting effects grew very rapidly, attributed (incorrectly) to mustard gas. The main result was extreme facial deformity.
After a few years in army hospitals he returned to Tampa and became a reporter. In 1929, famed director Henry King filmed "Hell Harbor" in Tampa and Rondo covered it for the paper. King put him in the film because of his looks and urged him to come to Hollywood where he would put him in more films. A shy man, embarassed by the discomfort his looks caused others, he politely declined.
In 1934 he married Mabel Housh, a lively, attractive young woman who realized ugly was only skin deep. In Tampa, in the depths of the depression work was scarce. When Mae asked Rondo about taking King up on his offer, he replied that he was no actor and that they were only interested in exploiting his looks. Her reply was, "Of course. They exploit the handsome and beautiful for their looks, but they have to worry about losing theirs."
In L.A., King put him in several films, most notably In Old Chicago. For a few years he played bit pirates, thugs, and such--he was out-uglied by Charles Laughton in Hunchback of Notre Dame. In 1944 he was cast as the Creeper in the Sherlock Holmes film "Pearl of Death," the muscle of the bad guy.
This film was a hit, so Universal signed him to a seven year contract. They were cranking out the b-movies and saw a franchise in the Creeper. He made four films (two as the Creeper) and died before two were even released. The shots in the gallery are of his "Creeper"character.