His story is one of heroism, success, and tragedy.
An intelligent student and a stellar athlete in football and track, Rondo Hatton was voted “the Handsomest Boy in the Class of 1913” in his senior year of high school. After graduation, he secured a job as a sports writer for The Tampa Tribune. Then, when WWI broke out, he enlisted in the Army and continued to employ his skills as a journalist. First, he covered General John Pershing’s expedition into Mexico and later served in the European theater, writing news-breaking stories from the Western Front – all as a soldier.
And it was in war-torn France that Rondo’s fortunes began to change for the worse. A German mustard gas attack severely injured the young man and the Army medically evacuated him back to the States and eventually discharged him. Rondo returned to his old newspaper job and would continue with it for the next 18 years. But something bad began to happen to Rondo. His youthful, handsome features began to morph into something brutish. His head, face, hands and feet became increasing large and deformed. Doctors diagnosed him with Acromegaly – a disease of the pituitary gland. Compared to the pretty boy he once was, Rondo was becoming a beast. His wife divorced him from shame and he began to spiral into depression. Friends and coworkers feared he might hurt himself.
Then, while covering the filming of the motion picture in Tampa – Hell Harbor in 1930 – director Henry King took note of the reporter’s thuggish looks and thought he’d make a great villain. King hired him for a small role in the movie. Hatton continued with his “day job” at the paper, but took other small roles and bit parts as they came. He married again, this time to a more faithful spouse.
Naturally, as the disease progressed Rondo not only became uglier. His health began to fail and he had to give up his journalist job. Now Rondo had to depend exclusively on his disability pension and whatever small parts Universal Pictures could give him. But it was at the height of his deformity that Universal cast him in his first major role – as the “spine-breaking” Hoxton Creeper in the Sherlock Holmes thriller, The Pearl of Death in 1945. Horror movie fans across America went wild over this new “monster who required no makeup” and both Hatton and Universal wanted to make the most of the pensioner’s misfortune. Universal cast him as the star in two more movies, The House of Horrors and The Brute Man, both released in 1946.
Unfortunately, Rondo Hatton never lived to see their release. Acromegaly not only did its evil to Rondo’s looks, but also attacked his vital organs. He died in January 1946, eight months before the release of the very movies in which he had the starring role.
But death did not extinguish Rondo Hatton’s fame. He became a Hollywood legend. His image has been immortalized in countless horror picture magazines, novels, television shows and
has even been reincarnated in later science fiction films (e.g. The Rocketeer, Judge Dredd in AD 2000 Comic Books, Stephen Kings’ The Dark Tower VII, etc.). In the end, it turned out well for Rondo Hatton that he was not just another pretty face. As painful as his deformity was, he was able to parlay his ugliness to achieve success as a motion picture icon and initiate a whole new genre of “creeper” horror films.
No one would suggest that a disease as ravaging as Acromegaly could ever be a blessing in disguise. But the fact remains that God can take the tragedies of our lives and make them work together for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20). If it could happen in the natural realm, then God can certainly do it in the spiritual realm. Through our pain, disappointment, and tragedy, God can purify our character, increase our faith, and make us more like Christ. “For though the outer man is perishing, yet the inner man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is only for a moment, produces for us an exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17).
Dear Father in heaven, all things are possible with You. You can take the jagged and cutting pieces of my broken life and skillfully arrange them into a glorious mosaic that brings glory to You and healing to me. Please do so in my life. Amen.
(Information from: http://www.thehumanmarvels.com/rondo-hatton-%E2%80%93-the-creeper/; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rondo_Hatton)