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The Best Dracula Ever - Halloween or Anytime
Versatile and Fascinating
A Halloween HubMob is the best excuse in the world to write about the very best portrayal of the Vampire Dracula during the 19th - 21st centuries thus far.
The 1927/1931 Dracula role took over this actor's entire career. The submersion was discouraging at times when he felt the character drained him, but he accepted his type casting in a way that he could use to please millions of audience members everywhere with his portrayals, even in bad films. In fact, he accepted roles in many bad films later in his career as well as in higher quality movies, but fans would watch him in anything. He developed a large cult following and a generation living 100 years after his original work in Hungary, Austria, and Germany are joining the club. In the 1930s, he reportedly received more fan mail from women and girls than did Clark Gable, who received a lot.
I'd never heard of Dracula until middle school, when on a grocery shopping trip with my mother, I found a book rack in the store with discount books. One was a paperback of Draculawith an aquiline profile on the cover. I must have been 13 at the time. Reading the book, I was fascinated with the time period, Bram Stoker's style, and the legends of fascinating regal monsters in Eastern Europe. We did not have the Goth movement at the time, but middle school kids were just becoming aware of vampirism and becoming fascinated with the romantic aspects of it. Roles in vampirism were not necessary for me to become fascinated with Bela Lugosi, though, because I would have been fascinated with him in his Shakespearean theater days as well. His accent, mannerisms, and style were riveting; though he'd been long deceased by the time I discovered him.
If not for the momentum started by his acting career and the advances in communcations via television, print media, and the Internet, Twilight would not now be so popular. Back in school, I read the histories, legends, and gothic novels available and most of them were pretty poorly done. it was skin to experiencing Star Trek® films and novels with bad story lines and unfitting characters. They were bad.
When Bela Lugosi was buried in 1956, it was in full costume for his stage and screen role, Count Dracula. At the funeral, Boris Karloff is said to have approached the coffin, leaned over and asked. "Bela, are you joking?" This was reported during a late night talk show one evening, but I cannot recall which one.
Bela Lugosi was quite a versatile actor and man, although he was typecast as a villain and a vampire king. He could play any role, good, bad, and funny.
You may be surprised to know that in his native Hungary, he was as well known and respected for his portrayal of Jesus Christ as for that of villains and the whole continuum in between. At the Pearly Gates, Peter may have also asked him if he was joking with the getup. Thinking that makes me smile.
Dracula and Van Helsing
Who is this Lugosi? - A Witch Hunt Survivor
Perhaps people in general do not realize that Bela Lugosi helped to organize SAG, the Screen Actors Guild, in the 1930s and was a target of early post-WWII Cold War witch hunts before Joseph McCarthy's search and lynching engine was fully up and running. It came after him, but he stood up to it; he played a demon only on the screen, not in real life and certainly not one set upon the destruction of America. The notion was absurd in its application to an actor that fought long and hard to come to America and find success, much like late night TV host Craig Ferguson today. Bela had fled his own country after wartime, because he had formed an actor's union and that action was seen as Communist. In America, SAG is viewed yet today by some as Communistic, as are all unions. It is an extreme notion.
I cannot forget the section of his biography, written by his son, that describes his speech before a group of citizens and actors, decrying injustice. So overcome by emotion, he reverted from English to Hungarian and the crowd understood him through the emotions he portrayed. This is simply unforgettable and so is Bela.
Life in Hollywood was hard during WWII and the Cold War, and Bela was typecast pretty readily as a villain and began taking any role that came along. His son Bela Lugosi, Jr. reportedly followed his dad's advice to avoid the theater arts altogether. He became an attorney, instead.
Grandson Timothy Lugosi maintains the family tribute site to Bela: The Official Bela Lugosi Website. Done in red and black, it is professionally attractive and offers a Blog and a Mailing List, along with many other features. Please visit ~ ^ ^ ~ HERE.
Home? I have no home.
Beware the Dragon
Bela in Print
Martin Landau as Lugosi
Out of the Carpathian Mountains
Bela was born in Lugos, Hungary near Romania's Carpathian Mountains in 1882 and modified the town's name as his stage name to replace his family name, Blasko.
Independent and disliking schoolwork, he left home at the early age of 12 to pursue an acting career and was successful in doing so in Hungary. When World War I later broke out, he volunteered for military duty and frontline action, although actors were exempt, becoming a Captain in the Ski Patrol and earning at least one medal for his wounds in three differect actions. He was patriotic.
After wartime, Lugosi continued to work to support the actor's union in Hungary and left the country when the government interfered. An actor's union was looked upon as a Communist organization.
Bela could speak no English, yet having gone to Vienna and then Germany, he came to America. Here, he formed an acting company of Hungarian expatriates and began to learn English. He learned his entire stage roles phonetically in the meantime and was even successful as a Shakespearean actor. I admire him for this. He also read extensively every day and I admire him as much for this.
In 1927, he accepted the role of the Count in Broadway's Dracula and became history. His accent and high class costume and mannerisms are legend. Since the 1931 Universal Pictures film version of Dracula, Bela Lugosi has been much imitated. Even the Muppets have The Count.
Back in Transylvania in 1903, Bela was in the stage production of The Bat and this was perhaps the first step toward Dracula in 1927. The role lasted his adult life, including in stage productions as late as 1943 in Boston and 1951 in London (He died in 1956).
Above everything else - acting, politics, humanitarianism, education - Bela was dedicated to his family, especially to his wife and son in the 1950s.
For this, I admire him the most.
- Bela Lugosi Quotes
49 quotes and quotations by Bela Lugosi
- The Official Bela Lugosi Fan Web Site!
Welcome to the Officialy Licensed Bela Lugosi Website, where you will find everything you want to know about the famous actor.
- Dracula's Homepage
The novel and scholarly studies surrounding it.
- Lugos, Austro-Hungary - now Lugoj, Romania
- Find A Grave: Bela Lugosi
- Bela Lugosi on FaceBook
- Bram Stoker - Biography and Works
Bram Stoker. Biography of Bram Stoker and a searchable collection of works.
Bela Lugosi is a well-meaning scientist, driven mad by his greedy bosses. He seeks his revenge in the only way he knows how: by breeding a race of Devil Bats to do his sinister bidding!