Bela Lugosi's Dead- By David Collier

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, California

Some Trivia:

Bela had been married 5 times by the end of his life.

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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