Rondo "The Creeper" Hatton
In the 1970s, Zappa sometimes introduced himself on stage as Rondo Hatton, and there is a bootleg called The Rondo Hatton Band.
Zappa liked to identify himself (and his band) with ugly people, and Rondo Hatton was an ugly film actor of the 1930s and '40s, who suffered from a disease called acromegaly, and thus looked a bit odd. He got to play bad-guy parts, and was billed as the "ugliest man in movies" and "the monster who needs no make-up". But as these pictures reveal, he actually looked rather commonplace . Remember, these were the audiences that were frightened by the Little Strings on the Giant Spider. :)
Acromegaly is a condition where the hypophysis produces abnormal amounts of hormones, resulting in extra growth of the hands, feet, nose, chin and lips. This malfunction is caused by a benign brain tumour, in the anterior pituitary gland, and often accompanied by diabetes. It is not a fatal condition, but one that is bound to grow more pronounced over time. From the tome Pathology, edited by Emanuel Rubin & John L Farber, pages 1126-1127 (the Endocrinic System chapter, written by Victor F Gould & Sheldon C Sommers):
Perhaps for promotional reasons, it was claimed that Rondo's features had been distorted by poison gas in the World War One trenches (some writers, such as Ben Watson, have bought into this). Rondo may very well have been exposed to chemical warfare agents, but this would in all likelyhood not have given him the special type of brain tumor that causes acromegaly. (Rondo has been far from the only acromegalic movie actor - see if you can think of others!)
As Rondo was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, you may think that he was from right around Zappa's own birthplace in Baltimore. But as the below map of Maryland shows, there is more than a hundred kilometers between them. (Rondo was born on April 22, 1894, and died of a heart attack (acromegaly is often accompanied by heart problems) on February 2, 1946, when Frank was already six years old, which may rule out reincarnation, depending on how you look at it.) By the way, legend has it that Rondo was voted "handsomest boy of his year" in high school.
Finally, this Rondo Hatton filmography was printed in (an unknown issue of) FilmFax Magazine:
The filmography found its way here from FilmFax via George "E-gor" Chastain. The two pictures of Rondo are reproduced without permission. If rightsholders wish to come forward with objections, they should mail the maintainer, after which the pictures will be removed and replaced with an artist's interpretation of Rondo Hatton.
1. Rondo was not really the "ugliest man in movies" even in the 1930s - the movie FREAKS from 1932 sported an all-star cast of real-life side-show attractions, with various deformities and handicaps. Nevertheless, several acromegalic men have followed Rondo's example and made acting careers, usually playing bad-guy parts - one of the most famous being Richard Kiel, who played Jaws in the James Bond movies THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977) and MOONRAKER (1979). From Paul Caporino:
Paul also adds
Moto Rock corrects the above vigorously:
2. This happened to for example André the Giant, a giant in American pro-wrestling, who also appeared in several movies.
For more ugly people in film, see Dr Vail Reese's Manifestation of Evil page.
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