Birthdate: October 20, 1882
Date of Death:1956
Birthplace: Lugos, Hungary
Education:Budapest Academy of Theatrical Arts
The son of a banker, he trained for the stage at the Budapest Academy
of Theatrical Arts. From 1901 he played lead parts on the Hungarian
stage and from 1915 in films, sometimes using the name Arisztid Olt.
In 1918, during the collapse of the Hungarian monarchy and the establishment
of a Communist regime, he was active in politics and organized an actors'
union. When the Leftists were defeated, in 1919, he fled to Germany,
where he appeared in a number of films. In 1921 he emigrated to the
US and began playing character parts on the stage and in films. His
most notable success was in the title role of the stage presentation
of Dracula, which he played for a year (1927) on Broadway and two years
on the road. When he repeated the role in Tod Browning's 1931 screen
version, introducing himself to film audiences with a heavy, deliberate,
inimitable accent, "I - am - Dracu-la...," it was clear that
the American screen had found itself a worthy aristocrat of evil.
During the 30s and early 40s, Lugosi shared with Boris Karloff the legacy
of the silent screen's Lon Chaney. Technically, Lugosi might not have
been as good an actor as Karloff, but he had a superior screen personality
and as a personification of dark evil had no peer in Hollywood or elsewhere.
Unfortunately, he was not choosy about his roles, and in addition to
performing in the quality horror films at Universal and other major
studios (and his only comic role, in Ninotchka, 1939) which made him
famous, he appeared indiscriminately in scores of infantile films in
which he was given the most ludicrous lines.
On the screen, Lugosi portrayed mad scientists and demented megalomaniacs
who evoked no pity or compassion in audiences. But his personal life
had its pathetic quality. At first under pressure from studio publicity,
and later on his own accord, he allowed the Vampire image to become
part of his real life. He began giving interviews while lying in a coffin,
was once seen at a Hollywood premiere accompanied by a gorilla, and
in his later films played parodies of himself. Besides, he was almost
always involved in money or marital problems. In 1955 he had himself
committed to the California State Hospital as a drug addict. He then
returned briefly to the screen and even announced plans for a fourth
marriage, but in August of 1956 he died. He was buried with his Dracula
October 20, 1882
Date of Death: August 16, 1956
Bela Lugosi was the stage name of Blaskó Béla Ferenc Dezso
(October 20, 1882–August 16, 1956).
He was born in Lugos, Transylvania, Austria-Hungary (now Lugoj, Romania),
the youngest of four children of a banker.
Lugosi started his acting career on the stage in Europe in several Shakespearean
plays. He however, became most notably known for his portrayal of Dracula
in a stage production of Bram Stoker's classic vampire story.
During World War I he served as an infantry lieutenant for the Central
He left from his native Hungary for Germany in 1919 after persecution
following his complicity in the forming of an actor's union, and emigrated
to the United States in 1921.
He was most famous for his title role in Tod Browning's Dracula (1931)
(building on the stage role). The film was a success, but Lugosi was
typecast as a horror heavy with such movies as White Zombie and Scared
to Death. Later on, the acting jobs dried up and he became addicted
Late in his life, he again got to star in movies, albeit lousy ones.
Ed Wood, a long-time fan of Lugosi's, offered him numerous roles in
his films, always playing some variant of a mad scientist/vampire type,
even in movies in which such a role made no sense — such as Glen
or Glenda. The biographical film Ed Wood, by Tim Burton, portrayed Wood's
relationship with Lugosi, who was played by Martin Landau.
He died of a heart attack, aged 73, in Los Angeles, California.
One of Lugosi's most infamous roles was in a movie that was released
after he was dead. Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space featured footage
of Lugosi — who died during filming — interspersed with
a double who looked nothing like him, and Lugosi got top billing for
He was also the subject of a song by gothic rock band Bauhaus entitled
Bela Lugosi's Dead.
Truth being stranger than fiction sometimes, Bela Lugosi was buried
in his full Dracula costume, as per the request in his will, in the
Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Bela Lugosi was
born Béla Ferenc Deszö Blaskó on October 20, 1882,
in Lugos, Hungary. He was the son of a banker, Istvan, who kept a strict
house. Bela ran away to the city of Resita at the age of eleven, never
returning again to his hometown. There, he worked as a miner for a few
years, but eventually began work in the theatre. He was given bit parts
in plays, but was laughed off the stage most of the time.
He moved to Szadbadka, where he found his sister Vilma and his mother,
who told him his father had died after losing the family savings. He
entered school again in 1898, but stayed for only four months. It was
back to the theatres for Bela.
After working on the railroad for some time, he joined a theatre company,
and was adored by audiences. He was accepted into the Academy of Performing
Arts, and it was during this period that he adopted the name "Lugosi."
He began to play larger roles in larger plays, and he was eventually
the top-billing member of the theater group.
In 1914, he enlisted in the Hungarian army. He was discharged in 1916
after convincing officials that he was "mentally unstable."
Not soon after, he was married to Ilona Szmik on June 25, 1917. It was
also during this time that he began appearing in movies. His first picture
was A Leopárd, in which he played the lead role.
He was part of a Communist regime after the war, and as a result was
placed on an arrest list of people who were also part of the group.
He fled to Vienna in 1919, and soon after to Germany. He played parts
in several German films, including Sklaven Fremedes Willens (1919) and
Der Januskopf (1920). A little while later, Bela received a telegram
from his wife Ilona. She had divorced him.
He emigrated to the United States of America in December of 1920. He
wasted no time in falling in love with, marrying, and divorcing an actress
named Ilona von Montágh. His first American film was 1923's The
Silent Command, a suspenseful spy movie in which Bela played the bad
guy. He officially became a US citizen on June 26, 1931.
He took on the role of Count Dracula in Horace Liveright's play in place
of actor Raymond Huntley in 1929. It played for 33 weeks on Broadway,
and also toured the entire West Coast. Soon after, the rights to play
were picked up by Universal Studios. Universal wanted Lon Chaney, Sr.
to play the lead role, but Chaney died of throat cancer in 1930. It
wasn't until after Chaney's death that Bela was even considered for
the part of Count Dracula. On July 27, 1929, Bela married Beatrice Woodruff
Weeks. On July 30, 1929 Bela divorced Beatrice Woodruff Weeks. Weeks
blamed Clara Bow, who Lugosi had had a brief love affair with a year
earlier, for the breakup.
After much consideration and nagging (on the part of Bela), Lugosi was
given the lead part in Dracula. He was paid a total of $3500, a fraction
of what second-billed David Manners received. He skipped on the part
of the monster in Universal's film version of Frankenstein, a decision
which many think was his greatest mistake ever.
During the years after his role in Dracula, he appeared in many B-movies,
some being above-average films and some being pathetic wastes of celluloid.
Some highlights from this period in Bela's life include 1932's White
Zombie, 1935's The Black Cat, Mark of the Vampire and The Raven. He
married the 20 year-old Lillian Arch in January of 1931, this fourth
marriage lasting 20 years. Bela Lugosi, Jr. was born on January 5th,
During the late thirties and througout the forties, Bela had a lot of
trouble finding work. What little work he did find paid next to nothing
and he was not sure how he would support his family. He and Lillian
seperated for a while in August 1944, and finally divorced in 1951.
In the mid-fifties, Bela met up with a young writer-director-producer-actor
named Edward D. Wood, Jr. Bela appeared in several of Wood's films,
playing the lead only once, in 1955's Bride of the Monster as Dr. Eric
Vornoff. The other two were Glen or Glenda? in 1953, and, after his
death, in Plan 9 From Outer Space, the so-called "worst film of
all time", in which Bela's scenes were taken from footage he and
Wood shot for reasons currently unknown (some say it was for a film
called The Ghoul Goes West, but none of the footage matches anything
in Wood's script). The rest of his scenes were played by Wood's wife's
chiropractor whose face was conveniently covered by a cape the entire
Bela had himself commited to the Los Angeles County General Hospital
in April of 1955 to help him recover from a morphine addiction. He had
been taking the drug for quite some time to ease shooting pains, as
Bela put them, in his legs. He was released on August 3rd later that
year, after passing an examination.
Not long after his release, he married Hope Lininger, a fan who had
written him letters every for single day he was in hospital. She would
be his fifth and final wife. Bela died at the age of 73, on August 16,
Bela Lugosi, Actor
• Born: 20 October 1882
• Birthplace: Lugos, Hungary (now Romania)
• Death: 16 August 1956
• Best Known As: Star of the 1931 movie Dracula
Name at birth: Béla Ferenc Dezso Blasko
Bela Lugosi shot to stardom in the title role of the 1931 film version
of Bram Stoker's Dracula and set the standard for movie vampires. A
successful stage actor in his native Hungary and in Germany, he emigrated
to the United States in the 1920s and played various character roles
until grabbing the lead in the stage production of Dracula in 1927.
Lugosi's talent for playing a villain led to a career of playing monsters
and mad scientists, and it's generally accepted that he made a lot of
bad choices. Some of his more memorable movies include The Black Cat
(1934), Ninotchka (1939, starring Greta Garbo), The Wolfman (1941) and
Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). In 1955 Lugosi committed
himself to an institution, admitting an addiction to methadone. In his
last years his personal life and career were on the skids, but he still
worked a little in television and low-budget films. He died while working
on what has been called one of the worst movies ever made, Plan 9 From
Outer Space (released in 1959).