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December 17, 2006



Very good article but a few corrections are in order. The short story "SPURS" by Clarence "Tod" Robbins was the basis of the movie, "FREAKS". THE UNHOLY THREE was the novel and the basis for the film of the same name. The other correction is that Daisy (AKA Hilda) Earle was Harry's sister not his wife. Every available source of biographical information on the Earles I've read states this fact. I also spoke to Harry many years ago so I know this as facr. Harry had 3 sisters, Gracie (born Frieda), Daisy (born Hilda) and Tiny (born Elly). There is an excellent bio of the Earles on Wikipedia at

Listener Kliph

I stand corrected, thanks for that. So that means in Freaks his wife was his sister, right? Thanks for the help, I'd go ahead and re-edit the article right now, but then your comment would no longer make sense.

Listener Kliph

Ah, fuck it. Corrections have been made. Thanks again.

Blind Uncle

Say, if anybody has a dvd copy of the silent version of this film and wants to trade for something neat, drop me an email, please.


You're welcome. Always glad to see anyone remember the Doll Family AKA The Earles. For the other poster who asked about THE UNHOLY THREE silent version. Neither that or the sound remake have ever been issued on video or DVD. I have seen the sound version years ago which was pretty entertaining but not the silent. The pair of films would make for a nice DVD reissue but that's up to whoever owns the current rights and I'm assuming its whoever owns the MGM holdings. LS


Excellent article! Thanks for clearing up the whole "Terror of Tiny Town" misconception; it hadn't occurred to me that Karl "Karchy" Kosicsky was the one being mistaken for Harry. Two more very minor corrections for you: It wasn't Tod Browning who re-made "The Unholy Three" as a talkie in 1930; that version was directed by Jack Conway. Also, during the production of "Freaks," Violet & Daisy Hilton (the conjoined twins) were also allowed to dine in the studio canteen with all the "normal" people. The rest of the cast had to eat outside on picnic benches; there are photos of this sad setup on file at the AMPAS library. Anyway, very lovely article; I have been working on an extensive website on the cast of "Freaks" for several months now, & it's always good to see one of these remarkable performers recognized.


Forgot to mention! To the poster asking about "The Unholy Three" on DVD, I have heard rumors that both versions will be included in the next Lon Chaney Collection box set. Don't know when or if that will ever happen, though. Actually the silent version is available in its entirety on YouTube here: Anyone who has any further questions or insights into the Doll Family, please feel free to contact me.

Michael Powers

"But don't be concerned if you think Harry's dignity was jeopardized by being laughed at in these films, you can rest assured that in Good News he was billed as 'Midget in Trash Basket.'" Oh my god, Kliph, I laughed so goddam hard. You're the funniest writer on the internet.

Michael Powers

Chaney's premature death from cancer remains the most resonant might-have-been in Hollywood history. It's evident from the sound version of "The Unholy Three" that Chaney was as talented vocally as he was in every other way and that he had an utterly magnificent natural speaking voice. I can't even begin to imagine what impact he would've had on the films of the 30s and on our collective consciousness if he'd lived. Would he have played Dracula and Frankenstein (despite being contracted to MGM) and, if so, what would that have done to our imaginations? Chaney was right up there with Chaplin and Welles as one of the screen's most potent talents and the fact that he only lasted one movie into the sound era is almost too much to bear if you dare to think about it. His minimally gifted son adopting his name only makes the joke on us all that much crueler. (By the way, why doesn't Chaney, Jr. ever move his face in so many scenes in "The Ghost of Frankenstein?" Was he actually wearing a mask, or what?)

andrew reed

i luv the doll family


I've just come across a photo of the entire cast of FREAKS. You can find it at this link:

Can you tell me why Harry (Doll) Earles is not pictured? That's not him in the front in a dress is it? I'd appreciate the help.

Thanks for your time,


Excellent article. Can anyone tell me where I can buy a book on Harry Earles and the Doll Family?


Great article, thanks for posting it. If only the Earle family could have lived forever...someone should make a biopic about them, but I suppose it might be tricky to cast. Harry Earles was a real original.

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