Photos with Rondo Hatton
BiographyHagerstown, Maryland, USA
An only child, Rondo Hatton was born to Stewart and Emily Hatton in Hagerstown, Maryland. The family moved to Tampa, Florida, in 1912, when he was a high-school senior, and his father joined a family-owned business there. Rondo was apparently popular and a good athlete, especially in football. After leaving high school, he joined the Florida National Guard to pursue a military career, fought in the Mexican border war and then in France in World War I. There, he was exposed to poison gas, was hospitalized with lung injury, and was subsequently medically discharged from service and consigned to a pension. Read more... to Tampa, he took employment as a reporter for the "Tampa Tribune," where he worked until 1936, when he moved to Hollywood. At some point after his exposure to the poison gas, he also developed acromegaly, a slowly progressive deforming of bones in the head, hands and feet, and internal and external soft tissues caused by disease of the pituitary gland, which onsets after the individual has reached his full genetic height (under normal pituitary influence), and production of growth hormones resume, but the bone structure can no longer produce symmetric growth (as in giantism). According to all authors, his acromegaly was a result of the poison gas, though typically, it is caused by a tumor on the pituitary. In any event, his worsening disfigurement is thought to have led to his first divorce and certainly was responsible for his being noticed by director Henry King, who was shooting a movie, Hell Harbor (1930), near Tampa. Reporter Hatton was covering the filming, and King offered him a role. Hatton remained a reporter, however, until after his second marriage in 1934; in 1936, he and his new, more faithful wife moved to Hollywood. Thereafter, Hatton appears to have subsisted primarily on bit or extra roles, with an occasional role substantial enough to earn him cast acknowledgment, until being cast for the role of the "Hoxton Creeper" in Universal's The Pearl of Death (1944). Universal thereafter attempted to promote Hatton to horror film stardom because of his acromegalic appearance, including a burgeoning series about a spine-breaking maniac called "The Creeper." However, around Christmas, 1945, he had a mild heart attack (heart weakness, along with diabetes and blindness being common complications of acromegaly) and, seemingly recovered, a fatal one just over a month later. He was returned to Tampa for burial. In 1988, filmmaker Fred Olen Ray extensively researched Hatton's life, producing the sensitive article "Rondo Hatton: Monster Man" (referenced below).