Bela Lugosi

Early Life


Bela Lugosi was born Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasko in Lugos, Hungary on October 20, 1882. He was a rebellious child and ran away from home at the age of 11 to work odd jobs. He lived nomadically for several years, depending on the charity of strangers before entering the realm of stage acting. In the early 1900s he was accepted into Hungary's Academy of Performing Arts with a specialty in Shakespearean acting. He adopted the stage name "Lugosi" in reference to Lugos, his birthplace. After taking on the male leads in Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Taming of the Shrew he joined the Hungarian Acting Theater in 1913 to continue acting in more Shakespearean roles.

In 1914 Bela put his acting career on hold to join the Hungarian military in the fight against Russia in WWI. After being wounded he was discharged in 1916 and returned to the National Theater to perform as Jesus Christ in The Passion. In the latter part of the 1910s, Lugosi made his transition from stage to film starring in a number of Hungarian silents. Being a supporter of the 1919 Hungarian Revolution, when the revolution collapsed he found himself an enemy of the state and fled to Vienna.

From Vienna he traveled to Berlin and began working for the German cinema. In 1920 he starred in Der Januskopf also known as The Head of Janus, an adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. After finding success in Germany he made the decision to immigrate to the United States, arriving in New Orleans on December 4, 1920. He soon made his way New York City and began working for New York's Hungarian Theater, while learning the English language. As his language skills improved he went on to star in American silents including The Silent Command (1923) and The Midnight Girl (1925).

In 1927 Lugosi took on the role of Dracula in the American stage play of the same name. His performance gained critical acclaim and was unlike anything audiences had ever seen. In 1931 Universal Studios cast Lugosi as lead actor in the film version of Dracula. He went on to reprise his role in other films and star in a number of B-movies throughout the 1930s and 40s. In the 1950s Bela teamed up with director Ed Wood to star in Bride of the Monster (1955) and Plan 9 From Outer Space (1956). Sadly, he passed away during filming on August 16, 1956. Bela will always be remembered for his tremendous contribution to film and the horror genre-- and forever immortalized for his haunting portrayal of Dracula.

Movies Known For

Der Januskopf (1920) The Silent Command (1923) Dracula (1931)
White Zombie (1932) The Black Cat (1934) The Raven (1935)
Mark of the Vampire (1935) The Phantom Creeps (1939) The Wolf Man (1941)
The Corpse Vanishes (1942) The Body Snatcher (1945) Glen or Glenda (1953)
Bride of the Monster (1955) Plan 9 From Outer Space (1956)

BrainDid You Know?

Legend has it that Bela fled to Vienna in a wheelbarrow buried beneath a pile of straw.

Sadly, Bela struggled with morphine addiction due to chronic sciatic nerve pain.

He was buried wearing one of his many black silk capes, but not the one he wore in Dracula (1931).

He was so eager to get the role of Dracula in the Univeral film production that he agreed to $500 per week for the 7-week shooting schedule.