Bela Lugosi: Horror Maestro
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Bela  Lugosi
Bela Lugosi: Horror Maestro


"I guess I'm pretty much of a lone wolf. I don't say I don't like people at all but, to tell you the
truth I only like it then if I have a chance to look deep into their hearts and their minds."
--Bela Lugosi

Count Dracula small ruby "No one actor ever exuded a greater aura of mystery than Bela Lugosi. With his tall stature, dark handsome features, piercing eyes and well-modulated Hungarian accent, the actor was very able to project the image of suave evilness. Unlike Lon Chaney, Sr., and Boris Karloff, who projected their genre roles mainly through the grotesque, Lugosi presented evil in well-mannered seductive ways, which certainly had an effect on the female portion of his audience. At one point in the mid-1930s Lugosi received as much fan mail from female admirers as did Clark Gable and this is doubly interesting since Lugosi worked mainly in horror films and at the time he was past 50 years of age. There can be no doubt that Bela Lugosi possessed more personal charisma than did his other counterparts, both before and since, in the horror film field, and while most of his genre outings were low-quality efforts, the actor himself is perhaps the most readily identifiable performer ever to make horror pictures."

Horror Film Stars
Michael R. Pitts
McFarland 1981

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A Few Fangsharp Facts

Bela Lugosi DRAC WANTS U Bela Lugosi was born in Transylvania in the Hungarian town of Lugos, as Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasko on October 20, 1882. His father was vice president of the state bank of Lugos. He was the youngest of four children.

1900 -- stage debut

1902 -- Joined National Actors' Company and performed many plays in Transyvania. He took the name of his hometown. Lugosi means "from Lugos" or "of Lugos".

He acted with different touring companies until 1911, when he started acting in Budapest, with the Hungarian Theatre in Budapest and Budapest's National Theatre. He first appeared in film during this period, using the name Arisztid Olt. Some of his early films were horror films, including "Az Elet Kiralya"/"A King's Life" (1918), based on Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray".

1918 -- The Hungarian monarchy collapsed and a Communist regime was established. He was active in politics and organized an actors' union.

1919 -- After the defeat of the Hungarian Leftists, Bela had to flee to Germany. He appeared in some films while living there.

1921 -- Sailed to New York City. Despite not speaking a word of English, he hoped to act on the American stage. He joined the Hungarian community, producing and starring in Hungarian productions there.

1923 -- Broadway debut as an Apache dancer in "The Red Poppy". American film debut: "The Silent Command", a Fox movie in which he played a German spy.

1927 -- He played "Dracula" on Broadway in the fall of this year. The play was successful. After a Broadway run of a year, he toured with the melodrama for two.

1930 -- Universal purchased screen rights to "Dracula" and wanted to borrow Lon Chaney from MGM to play the Count. As Chaney's health kept him from the project, the studio scouted around for replacements and finally chose Lugosi, at that time unknown to American film audiences.

An interesting fact when compared to later films: Bela Lugosi did not wear fangs in this portrayal of the count.

The 1931 version of "Dracula" was the first talking picture horror film. The rest is history, as mortals say. This was the part that made Bela a star, and no other film he was in ever gleaned as much success.

The Opinion of Your Webmistress:

fly I found the Bela Lugosi version of Dracula (1931) boring. I love the image of him, but it moved slow slow slow. However, I wish I'd been one of Renfield's flies on the curtain in the theatres where Bela performed!

candle 27.2.00: Someone signed my guestbook, apalled that I found the film boring. If I didn't believe that Bela Lugosi contributed much to the genre, both in film and literature, I wouldn't have created this page. But thanks for your honest opinion.

30.10.02: A visitor wondered if I liked the version with music by Phillip Glass. Why yes, I did indeed. Thank you for the reminder.

Aug 16, 1956 -- Died of a heart attack. At his request, he was buried in his Dracula cape.

As Vincent Price related, when he and Peter Lorre went to view Bela's body, Lorre, seeing Lugosi dressed in his famous Dracula cape, quipped, "Do you think we should drive a stake through his heart just in case?"

"Bela Lugosi died at a time when horror films were just coming back into vogue. Had he lived but another two years he would no doubt [have] seen a great revival in interest about his career and good roles in films would most certainly have followed."

Horror Film Stars
Michael R. Pitts
McFarland 1981

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Did you know that there were two films about Dracula made using the same sets? Check out these entries from Leonard Maltin's MOVIE AND VIDEO GUIDE 1993:

Dracula (1931) 75m.***1/2 D: Todd Browning. Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan, Herbert Bunston, Frances Dade. Classic horror film of Transylvanian vampire working his evil spell on perplexed group of Londoners. Lugosi's most famous role with his definitive interpretation of the Count, ditto Frye as looney Renfield and Van Sloan as unflappable Professor Van Helsing. Sequel: DRACULA'S DAUGHTER

Dracula (1931) 103m.*** D: George Melford. Carlos Villar (Villarias), Lupita Tovar, Pablo Alvarez Rubio, Barry Norton, Eduardo Arozamena, Carmen Guerrero, Manuel Arbo. This scene-for-scene, line-for-line Spanish-language adaptation of the horror classic was filmed simultaneously with the Hollywood version -- at night, on the very same sets -- but much of the staging and camerawork is actually better! Other major difference: the women are dressed more provocatively. All that's missing is an actor with the charisma of Lugosi in the lead.

Count Dracula poster


|Vampires Then and Now|
|Vampires: Fang and Horror|
|Forever Knight: Vivid Vamps|
|Jonathan Frid: Fated Elan|
|Peter Cushing: Debonnaire Gent|
         |Films of Peter Cushing|
|Vincent Price: Daemon Urbane|
Bela Lugosi: Horror Maestro
         |Films of Bela Lugosi|
|Christopher Lee: Dark Charisma|
         |Films of Christopher Lee|
|Frank Langella: Romantic Raconteur|
|Gary Oldman: A Mummer's Voice|
|The Library|

|In a Welcoming Vein: Vampire Renaissance map|
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Count Dracula poster

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Mists of Night and Time

"Toccata and Fugue in D minor" by Bach

Lugosi wav:
"I am Dracula. I bid you welcome."

Lugosi wav:
"Listen to them, children of the night.
What music they make."

copyright 1998
edit 30 April 2011
We don't own the photos, candelabra nor gold horizontal rule, but the rest of the graphics belong to Dracowylde
Vampires Then and Now