Rondo Hatton was an actor in B-Movies in the thirties and forties, appearing in some good movies (usually in bit parts) and a lot of bad ones, making him that generation's Bruce Campbell.
Rondo Hatton was born an only child in 1894. Rondo was, by all accounts, a normal and healthy young man, the star athlete of his high school, and quite a hit with the ladies. After high school, Rondo joined the military and was quickly shipped overseas to fight in the trenches of World War One, where, in true superhero origin story fashion, he was exposed to gas that affected his pituitary gland, resulting in acromegaly.
Acromegaly is similar to giganitism, except that it only affects certain areas of the body, rather than all over. As a result, Rondo's hands, feet, and facial features began to grow to monstrous proportions. Several surgeries were necessary (including one where his cheekbones were removed, and another to re-set his lower jaw which jutted out over two inches from his upper). Eventually, Rondo returned to Tampa, Florida, where he began writing for the local newspaper.
Rondo's first wife, Elizabeth Immell James, left him when his acromegaly distorted his features away from the handsome youth he had been, proving that even in the late 1920's, some women were just bitches.
While covering a movie that was filming in Tampa, Rondo caught the eye of director Henry King, who, fasicnated by Rondo's unusual features, cast him as a tough bouncer in the film (Hell Harbor, 1930). King encouraged Rondo to move to Hollywood to pursue a career in pictures. Rondo, hesitant to cash in on his ailment, initally resisted the temptation. It wasn't until Rondo's second wife (the much more awesome Mabel) encouraged him to do so that he finally packed his bags and went to Hollywood to become rich and famous.
You know, like Kermit the Frog in The Muppet Movie.
Rondo Hatton was in dozens of films, often as an extra. The exact number of films is unknown, as many of the films are missing, and Rondo was (more often than not) uncredited for the films he did appear in.
Rondo Hatton's big break came in 1944, when he appeared along with Basil Rathbone in the Sherlock Holmes adventure, The Pearl of Death. Rondo was cast as The Hoxton Creeper, a brutish man working for the film's main villain, who kills his victims by breaking their backs with his bare hands. Rondo would play The Creeper (of slight variations thereof) twice more.
In House of Horrors (1946), Rondo again played The Creeper. This time, he is rescued from the river by an artist who, after being condemned by the critics decides to end it all by drowning himself. However, upon seeing The Creeper's fascinating visage, the artist finds inspiration to continue his work. He allows The Creeper to live with him, often dropping casual hints over breakfast that the world would be so much nicer if such-and-such art critic were gone. And wouldn't you know it, those critics were found dead the next day, their backs broken! (Watch your ass, Ebert.)
In The Brute Man (1946) Rondo returned in this quasi-prequel to House of Horrors, revealing his origin as a slave on Tatooine where he had to win a pod race that would...Oh, no, wait, that was a much worse movie. In The Brute Man, Rondo played Hal Moffet, a formerly handsome college boy who was disfigured in a chemistry lab accident who now stalks the streets killing those who wronged him (and anyone else he just happens to feel like killing). Hal finds some pitty in Helen, a blind piano teacher (can all blind people play the piano?) who, later narcs on him to the police. Bitch.
Sadly, Rondo Hatton died February 2, 1946, before either The Brute Man or House of Horrors were released, so he never experienced even the small amount of fame those films would bring him.
In 2002, The Rondo Hatton Awards were created, celebrating the best in classic horror. You too can vote in "The Rondos," just go to rondoaward.com.
Monstarz has released a twelve inch fully poseable Rondo Hatton figure. (Wouldn't you love to say that you have a twelve-inch Rondo?)
The first time Judge Dredd removed his helmet (in the comics, that is), he was revealed to look like Rondo Hatton. Which is still better than looking like Stallone.