Rondo Hatton was born in Hagerstown, Maryland on April 22nd 1894 to Stewart Price and Emily Zarring Hatton, a pair of Missouri-born teachers.
In 1913, whilst at Hillsborough High School, Hatton was voted the handsomest boy in his class. Following his father’s death, Hatton, his mother, and his younger brother Stewart moved in with his maternal grandmother in Tampa, Florida.
Once in Florida, Hatton obtained work as a sportswriter for the local newspaper. He worked as a journalist until after World War I when the symptoms of acromegaly developed and distorted his head, face and extremities.
During World War I, Hatton served on the Pancho Villa Expedition along the Mexican border and in France with the United States Army, from which he was discharged due to his illness.
By 1930, Hatton was working for The Tampa Tribune newspaper. By chance he was assigned to cover Henry King’s latest film Hell Harbor. King noticed Hatton immediately and chased him to be in his next movie. Hatton appeared in a small role as the owner of a dock side bar but resisted the lure of Hollywood. Eventually though he decided to make the most of the opportunity finally made the move to Hollywood in 1936 where King cast him in the film In Old Chicago where he played the right hand man to a villainous thug.
His career began with playing similar roles to what he had done for King, often these were uncredited (The Big Guy, Moon Over Burma, The Cyclone Kid), bit parts or extra roles. His most notable of these came in 1939 as a contestant-extra in the “ugly man competition” which he loses to a heavily made up Charles Laughton in the RKO production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Then in 1943 Hatton played a supporting-character role as Gabe Hart, a member of the lynch mob in the film of The Ox-Bow Incident.
In the early 1940’s Universal Studios came knocking at Hatton’s door, seeing him as there next big horror movie star. Sadly, they exploited Hatton’s condition incorrectly telling the press that his condition was due to exposure to a German mustard gas during his service in World War I. They billed him as “the monster who needed no make-up!”
In 1944 Universal cast Hatton as The Hoxton Creeper (aka The Hoxton Horror) in its sixth Sherlock Holmes film, The Pearl of Death.
In 1945, Hatton appeared as Moose – a henchman – in all thirteen episodes of the Universal series Royal Mounted Rides Again. For the first twelve episodes he sat outside his evil boss’ office, then in the last episode he got to draw his gun in a showdown but is shot.
Later that year Hatton was back as a henchman to Otto Kruger on the big screen in The Jungle Captive. Hatton then reprised his role as “The Creeper” in two movies – House of Horrors which was filmed in 1945 but not released until 1946 and The Brute Man which was filmed in only thirteen days.
Sadly Hatton died of coronary thrombosis, brought on by his acromegalic condition on February 2nd 1946 and never go to see House of Horrors or The Brute Man hit the big screen. He was buried in Tampa, Florida.