Bela Lugosi, born
Bela Blasko on October 20, 1882, in Lugos, Hungary. 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 of Dracula 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 cape.
-Biography from Katz's Film Encyclopedia
Other Vital Statistics:
Real Name: Béla Ferenc Deszö Blaskó
Nickname: Adelbert (his Confirmation name)
Height: 6' 1"
Burial Place: Holy Cross Cemetary, Culver City,
Bela had been married 5 times by the end of his
Bela's last residence was at 5620 Harold Way, a
flat in Los Angeles.
Bela was also sometimes credited as Olt Arisztid
and Arisztid Olt.
Helped organize the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and
was member # 28.
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