The Incomparable Bela Lugosi
Bela Lugosi 1882-1956
This site is dedicated to Bela Lugosi, who in 1931 defined the character of Dracula from Bram Stoker's novel. Bela's importance to Dracula adaptations as well as all vampire movies is unparalleled; his elegant portrayal of the Count has been duplicated numerous times since. He is a true pioneer, considering he stared in the first talking Dracula movie, as well as the first horror talkie. Though unknown to him at the time, Bela's role in Tod Browning's film would spawn a revolution, as Dracula has continued to be a source of intrigue to popular culture. (Thank Bela Lugosi for the black cape and ribbon tie you wore to dress up like Dracula during Halloween .) So enjoy, and educate yourself on the first sophisticated, seductive, and evil Count Dracula in American film, Bela Lugosi!
Born October 20, 1882 as Béla Ferenc Deszö Blaskó in Lugos, Hungary
Youngest of 4 children
Ran away from home at the age of 12 to pursue acting career
His older sister found small acting roles in the theater of Szabadka
Trained at Budapest Academy of Theatrical Arts
1901 played lead roles in the Hungarian theater
1915 began acting in films
1st used the stage name "Lugossy" to show aristocratic heritage
Shortened stage name to Lugosi to show he was from Lugos
In some films he used the name Arisztid Olt
Organized actors' union during Communist regime
1919 fled to Germany and made 11 films
1921 emigrated to the United States and lived in NYC
1923 landed first role as Fernando, the Spanish Apache, in the Broadway production of The Red Poppy
Dracula 1931 click here to view the original movie poster
In Tod Browning's film Dracula, Bela Lugosi's portrayal of Count Dracula made him the iconic Dracula figure. Lugosi transformed Dracula from animalistic and savage to suave and elegant. Bela Lugosi was not originally cast for Tod Browning’s Dracula. Lon Chaney had been scheduled to play the role of Dracula but he died before the movie could start production. Therefore, Bela Lugosi was cast for this part, having already played the Count on Broadway a year before. Browning’s Dracula is the first talking movie based on Bram Stoker’s novel, as well as the first horror 'talkie' and has established itself as one of the most notable vampire films to this day. Many regard this film as the 'definitive' Dracula movie, with much credit to Bela's role. The success of this film comes out of Bela's embodiment of Count Dracula. His thick, eerie Hungarian accent delivers one liners throughout the film, such as "I never drink...wine" and "Listen to them...Children of the Night...Vhat music they make." After the completion of Dracula, Lugosi went on to make countless other horror films. Lugosi's portrayal of Dracula typecast him as a villain; his film career follows that of his first major role.
Fun Facts about Bela
-Unlike later Hollywood depictions, Bela never wore fangs while playing Dracula
-Bela was buried in his Dracula costume
-Lugosi was offered the original role of Frankenstein, but turned it down, viewed by some as a huge mistake
-Bela has a song written about him by gothic rock group Bauhaus, called "Bela Lugosi's Dead"
-In 1994, Martin Landau won an Oscar for playing Lugosi in Tim Burton's film Ed Wood
-Bela starred opposite horror film legend Boris Karloff in the 1939 film Son of Frankenstein
-Bela was born near the western border of Transylvania!
Filmography - Movies inspired by Bela Lugosi's role of Count Dracula
Dracula-1931-Director Tod Browning-Universal
-This is the original; Bela Lugosi's first movie role as Count Dracula. Dracula abducts young women and drinks blood from their necks to continue being undead. The Count has hypnotic powers to control women and feed off of their bodies.
Murder in the Rue Morgue- 1932-Director Robert Florey-Universal
-Bela Lugosi portrays Dr. Mirakle who is attempting to prove his theories of relationship between humans and apes. Dr. Mirakle abducts women and injects them with ape blood. The young women die and the hunt goes on to find out who is doing this to these women.
White Zombie-1932-Director Victor Halperin-Unites Artists
-Lugosi plays the character of the vampire, Count Dracula. Dracula is resurrected after a German bomb uncovers his coffin. Then Dracula is able to continue his reign of terror by drinking from female victims.
Mark of the Vampire-1935-Director Tod Browning-Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
-Bela Lugosi plays Count Mora who is a vampire. In the film Mora is being investigated for murder.
The Corpse Vanishes-1942-Director Wallace Fox-Monogram
-Lugosi plays the role of Dr. Lorenz who is attempting to save his wife's life. In order to do this he takes fluid from other younger women's bodies and transfuses the fluid to his wife.
The Return of the Vampire-1944-Director Lew Landers-Columbia
-Bela Lugosi portrays the character Murder Legendre, a demonic voodoo man who has zombies working for him. Similar to his character of Count Dracula, he has hypnotic powers over women. Murder hypnotizes a woman, Made Bellamy and in order to save her life Murder must be killed to release the women from his power.
The Voodoo Man-1944-Director William Beaudine-Monogram
-Dr. Richard Marlowe played by Lugosi revives his dead wife by capturing women and using their life forces to regain the life of his wife.
Great Lugosi Links:
"The Pit" contains an assortment of Bela's best sound bites: http://www.seahaas.com/thepit/lugosi.html
"Lugosi's Faves" is a list of some of his favorite things, from music and food to his favorite pet: http://users.auracom.com/tournier/favorite.htm
"The Chamber of Dr. Werdegast" has a large photo album with pics of Bela: http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Set/6240/pictures.html
"Bela Lugosi" is a site with his filmography and an online catalogue where you can order any number of Bela's films on VHS and DVD: http://www.briansdriveintheater.com/belalugosi.html
"The Garage Kits of Bela Lugosi" contain pictures and comments on the numerous Bela Lugosi modeling kits that have been released: http://www.gremlins.com/jon_wang/lugosi.html
Constructed by Mike Stasko, Celeste Polito,
Sarah Gellner, and Shelly Lawrence
Vampires in Film, Professor Farrelly