Hollywood has had its share of actors who specialized in horror films and horrific roles, but none had so horrific or tragic a personal story as Rondo Hatton. A fixture in B-movies of varying quality from 1943 until his death early in 1946, Hatton was a victim of the glandular disorder Acromegalia. Often caused by a benign brain tumor, the disease results in the pituitary gland running out of control and secreting excess growth hormone. In victims who have not yet reached adulthood, the result is giantism (as in the case of Andre Rene Roussimoff, better known as Andre the Giant); in adults, the effect is an enlarging of the forehead, mouth, jaw, fingers, joints, and feet, and a coarsening of the skin. Ironically, Hatton had been considered an extremely handsome young man in high school, according to those who knew him in his early life. Press releases in the mid-'40s claimed that his condition was partly the result of his having been gassed on a battlefield during World War I. He came to Hollywood around the time that sound came in, his features already showing some signs of distortion. His earliest known film appearance was in Hell Harbor, a South Seas action-adventure yarn filmed in 1930 by director Henry King, as a burly waterfront tavern keeper -- some of that footage later reappeared in several subsequent movies, including Wolves of the Sea. His work up until the mid-'40s was primarily in silent bit parts, although his appearance in the 1944 Bob Hope comedy The Princess and the Pirate offered a glimpse of the direction his career would soon take as he portrayed "the gorilla man." In 1944, Hatton, his features now completely distorted by his worsening disease, signed with Universal Pictures and made his first appearance for the studio in the Sherlock Holmes movie The Pearl of Death, portraying a mute, hulking back-breaker called the Hoxton Creeper working in the service of arch-villain Giles Conover (Miles Mander). His performance, mute and menacing, was the most memorable part of the movie (one of the better entries in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes series) and over the next year and a half, Hatton repeated his role in four more Universal films. These were all prominent supporting roles except for the last of them, The Brute Man, where he was the star. Ironically, its plot, about a handsome college athlete scarred and turned into a monster by an accident, was almost a burlesque of Hatton's own life story. Alas, by the time it was completed, Hatton's health was failing and it wasn't until eight months after his death that the movie opened in theaters; by then, a nervous Universal had sold the film to the Poverty Row outfit Producers Releasing Corporation rather than issue it directly. Rondo Hatton was never more than a cult horror star in his own time, but during the 1960s and 1970s, with the booming interest in Universal's classic horror movies, he began attracting the interest of scholars and horror movie buffs.