Tod Browning was an American motion picture actor, director and screenwriter.
Browning’s career spanned the silent and talkie eras. Best-known as the director of Dracula, the cult classic Freaks, and classic silent film collaborations with Lon Chaney, Sr., Browning directed many movies in a wide range of genres.
He was born Charles Albert Browning, Jr., in Louisville, Kentucky, the second son of Charles Albert and Lydia Browning, and the nephew of baseball star Pete Browning. As a young boy, he put on amateur plays in his backyard. He was fascinated by the circus and carnival life, and at the age of 16 he ran away from his well-to-do family to become a performer.
Changing his name to “Tod”, he traveled extensively with sideshows, carnivals, and circuses. His jobs included working as a talker for the Wild Man of Borneo, performing a live burial act in which he was billed as “The Living Corpse”, and performing as a clown with the Ringling Brothers Circus. He would draw on this experience as inspiration for some of his film work.