1997 32¢ “The Phantom of the Opera”
Classic Movie Monsters
Issue Date: September 30, 1997
City: Universal City, CA
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
In 1925, American movie-going audiences experienced one of the most horrifying silent films ever created, The Phantom of the Opera. This story of a demented, disfigured organist, who lives in the maze-like tunnels and cellars under the Paris Opera House, was based on a novel by Gaston Leroux.
Wearing a mask, the Phantom wreaks havoc on the opera, strangling a stagehand who has seen him, and sending the theater’s giant chandelier crashing into the audience during a performance. Later he kidnaps a young singer, Christine, with whom he is enamored, and takes her into his subterranean “home.” Before she is rescued, Christine pulls off the Phantom’s mask to reveal a hideous, skull-like face. The Phantom meets his end at the hands of an angry mob, which beats him to death and throws his body in the river Seine.
The man responsible for bringing the Phantom to life was silent actor Lon Chaney. Born to deaf-mute parents, Chaney was a master of pantomime. As the Phantom he gave his greatest performance, eliciting feelings of both terror and pity. Chaney also starred in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), London After Midnight (1927), Tell It to the Marines (1927), While the City Sleeps (1928), and Thunder (1929).