The gothic romance novel "Le Fantõme de l'Opera was written by Gaston Leroux in 1911. The first "Phantom of the Opera", or Erik Mulheim, was played by Lon Chaney in 1925. (pictured here) Many movies have been made about the book. In 1987, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber released yet another musical called "The Phantom of the Opera", and is now the longest running Broadway show. (Has been running 26 years. Wow.) This is probably my favorite musical.
Lon Chaney as The Phantom of the Opera, 1925. When you see pictures like this, it makes you glad that nowadays the Phantom goes for a different look (!) Chaney's make up was self applied and it was written into his contract that no-one saw it until the movie was out in theatres so that it was a shock for the audience