Browning joined a traveling circus while still a teenager, performing as a clown and contortionist. In 1915 he began acting at the Biograph studio and appeared in the modern sequence of D.W. Griffith's classic Intolerance; he also served as one of Griffith's assistants on that monumental project. Browning began directing in 1917, frequently co-writing his films. His first film with actor Lon Chaney, The Unholy Three, was a hit and led to several memorable silent melodramas with the great character actor, including The Unknown, London After Midnight (which Browning remade in 1935 as Mark Of The Vampire), and West Of Zanzibar. By the 1930s Browning was specializing in horror, and directed two classics of the era: Dracula with Bela Lugosi, and the astounding Freaks. The latter, a shocker set among the freaks of a traveling sideshow, was far too disturbing for its time and was quickly yanked from theaters; only in the 1960s did the film come to be hailed as a masterpiece.