Born Be'la Ferenc Dezso Blasko on October 20, 1882, Lugos, Hungary (now Lugoj, Romania) . The youngest of four children. During WWI, volunteered and was commissioned as an infantry lieutenant. Wounded three times. Married Ilona Szmik (1917 - 1920) Arrived in New York City in December, 1920. Married Ilona von Montagh (? - ?) Became an American citizen 1931. Married Lillian Arch (1933 - 1951) Father of Bela Lugosi Jr. (1938 - ?). Helped organize the Screen Actors Guild in the mid-30's, joining as member number 28. Died of a heart attack August 16, 1956. Buried in his full Dracula costume, including a cape.IMDb Mini Biography By: ReelDeal-2
It's ironic that Martin Landau won an Oscar for impersonating Bela Lugosi (in Ed Wood (1994)) when Lugosi himself never came within a mile of one, but that's just the latest of many sad ironies surrounding Lugosi's career. A distinguished stage actor in his native Hungary, he ended up a drug-addicted pauper in Hollywood, thanks largely to typecasting brought about by his most famous role. He began his stage career in 1901 and started appearing in films during World War I, fleeing to Germany in 1919 as a result of his left-wing political activity (he organized an actors' union). In 1920 he emigrated to the US and made a living as a character actor, shooting to fame when he played Count Dracula in the legendary 1927 Broadway stage adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel. It ran for three years, and was subsequently, and memorably, filmed by Tod Browning in 1931, establishing Lugosi as one of the screen's greatest personifications of pure evil. Sadly, his reputation rapidly declined, mainly because he was only too happy to accept any part (and script) handed to him, and ended up playing pathetic parodies of his greatest role, in low-grade poverty row shockers. He ended his career working for the legendary Worst Director of All Time, Edward D. Wood Jr.. He was buried in his Dracula cape.IMDb Mini Biography By: Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
|Hope Lininger||(25 August 1955 - 16 August 1956) (his death)|
|Lillian Arch||(31 January 1933 - 17 July 1953) (divorced) 1 child|
|Beatrice Weeks||(29 September 1929 - 2 October 1929) (divorced)|
|Ilona von Montagh||(September 1921 - February 1924) (divorced)|
|Ilona Szmik||(25 June 1917 - 1920)|
Slicked back hair and prominent widow's peak
Thick Hungarian accent
Roles in horror films and particularly in films produced by Universal Studios
The role of Count Dracula
Born in Lugos, Hungary (now Lugoj, Romania), from which he derived his eventual professional surname.
Father was a banker.
His son, Bela Lugosi Jr., practices law in Los Angeles, California (1995).
Interred at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, USA. Specific Interment Location: Grotto, L120, 1.
On the set, he camouflaged his drug addiction by sipping burgundy.
Contrary to popular belief, he and Boris Karloff did not hate each other, as the famous scene from Ed Wood (1994) would lead one to believe. Both men's children have said that the only rivalry that existed between them is when they were both up for the same parts, and in reality, Lugosi and Karloff had almost no relationship off-set. However, near the sad end of his life, Lugosi allegedly had at least one methadone-addled fantasy that Karloff was a boogie man out to get him.
He was one of the charter members of the Screen Actors Guild.
In 1929, he married a wealthy San Francisco widow named Beatrice Weeks, a union which lasted all of three days; their divorce named Clara Bow as the "other woman" - it was a media sensation and launched him into national notoriety.
Pictured on one of a set of five 32¢ US commemorative postage stamps, issued 30 September 1997, celebrating "Famous Movie Monsters". He is shown as the title character in Dracula (1931). Other actors honored in this set of stamps, and the classic monsters they portray, are Lon Chaney as The Phantom of the Opera (1925); Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolf Man (1941); and Boris Karloff on two stamps as The Mummy (1932) and the monster in Frankenstein (1931).
Long, extensive classical career in Hungary including roles in "Hamlet", "Macbeth", "King Lear", "Taming of the Shrew" and "Richard III".
His first stage role in the US was "The Red Poppy". Unable to speak English, he was forced to learn the role by rote. He was rewarded with excellent reviews and earned his first US film role, a villainous part in The Silent Command (1923) as a result.
At the time of his death, Lugosi was in such poor financial straits that Frank Sinatra quietly paid for his funeral.
Further immortalized in the song "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus, which was featured in The Hunger (1983), and went on to become a dancefloor mainstay at goth dance clubs in the 1980s. The lyrics of the song described him in his Dracula costume, along with "Undead! Undead! Undead!" being chanted during the song's chorus.
His name had become such as asset that various studios would give him prominent billing even when he was playing such supporting roles as butlers as he did in Columbia's Night of Terror (1933), Fox's The Gorilla (1939), Universal's Night Monster (1942) and Paramount's One Body Too Many (1944).
In his collaborations with Boris Karloff at Universal, it was Karloff who always got top billing. When these same films were released as part of a DVD box set in 2005, Universal chose to market them as "The Bela Lugosi Collection.".
He still spoke very little English by the time he shot Dracula (1931), He had made the role famous on Broadway, but most of his lines he had learned phonetically, and used the same technique for the film version. It was another two years after he shot Dracula (1931) before he became fluent in English, although he had made several films after that one.
He received "only" $500 per week for the seven-week engagement on "Dracula," a total of $3500. However, in 2007 purchasing power, that would be equal to $47,319. In comparison, Universal paid $2000 per week for the use of leading man David Manners, but Manners was a contract player at First National Pictures. The payment went to that studio, not to Manners, who was paid only his usual weekly rate from First National.
Attained the rank of an Infantry Captain in the Hungarian army in World War I. Later recounted in stories on film sets, his duties include acting as a hangman. He also said that at one point he hid in a mass grave of corpses to escape death. After being wounded three times, he was discharged while apparently feigning concussion-caused insanity.
Lugosi himself perpetrated the myth that he had quit the role of the monster in Frankenstein (1931), which is untrue. Originally, director Robert Florey wanted him to play Dr. Frankenstein, but producer Carl Laemmle Jr. didn't want Lugosi in that role, so he was relocated to the monster part. Lugosi was unhappy with playing the clodding, mute monster under heavy make-up and complained. He had filmed some screen-tests with Florey, but Laemmle Jr. didn't like what he saw and fired both Florey and Lugosi.
Lugosi was contracted to appear in "Dracula's Daughter" (1936) at a salary of $4,000, but the original script in which the character appeared was rejected by Universal. The final script did not involve Dracula, except for an insert shot of him in his coffin, but Lugosi was paid off, earning $500 more for not appearing in "Dracula's Daughter" than he earned for starring in "Dracula" (1931).
Accoding to biographer Robert Cremer Lugosi was not only the finest party host among Hugarian members of the Hollywood community but also an inveterate practical joker. When other expatriates like Joe Pasternak, Iloma Massey, Michael Curtiz, Willy Pogany, and Michael Curtiz were guests, he would hire comic actor Vince Barnett to play the part of a clumsy waiter spilling drinks and dropping plates of hors d'oeuvres, resulting in near misses for the guests to Lugosi's delight.
He was the live action model for the terrifying demon Chernabog in Disney's Fantasia (1940).
I guess I'm pretty much of a lone wolf. I don't say I don't like people at all but, to tell you the truth, I only like it then if I have a chance to look deep into their hearts and their minds"
[to director Edward D. Wood Jr., on the set of one of his legendary turkeys] This is the most uncomfortable coffin I've ever been in.
Circumstances made me the theatrical personality I am, which many people believe is also a part of my personal life.
Every producer in Hollywood had set me down as a type. I was both amused and disappointed.
I'd like to quit the supernatural roles and play just an interesting, down-to-earth person.
I'll be truthful. The weekly paycheck is the most important thing to me.
[on being typecast in villain roles] I find that, because of my language and gestures, that I am cataloged as what you call a heavy. My accent stamped me, in the imagination of the producers, as an enemy. Therefore I must be a heavy.
In Hungary acting is a career for which one fits himself as earnestly and studiously as one studies for a degree in medicine, law or philosophy. In Hungary, acting is a profession.
Every actor's greatest ambition is to create his own, definite and original role, a character with which he will always be identified. In my case, that role was Dracula.
Never has a role so influenced and dominated an actor's role as has the role of Dracula. He [Dracula] has, at times, infused me with prosperity and, at other times, he has drained me of everything.
[on playing Dracula] It's a living, but it's also a curse. It's Dracula's curse.
If I had one per cent of the millions "Dracula" has made, I wouldn't be sitting here now.
[in response to an interviewer question "Doesn't Dracula ever end for you?"] No. No. Dracula never ends. I don't know if I should call it a fortune or a curse, but Dracula ever ends.
|White Zombie (1932)||$800/week|
|Chandu the Magician (1932)||$2,500|
|The Black Cat (1934)||$3,000|
|Gift of Gab (1934)||$250 (1 day)|
|Mark of the Vampire (1935)||$3,000|
|Phantom Ship (1935)||$10,000|
|The Raven (1935)||$5,000|
|The Invisible Ray (1936)||$4,000|
|Postal Inspector (1936)||$5,000 (flat rate)|
|SOS Coast Guard (1937)||$1,500|
|Son of Frankenstein (1939)||$4,000|
|You'll Find Out (1940)||$3,750|
|The Return of the Vampire (1944)||$3,500|
|The Body Snatcher (1945)||$3,000|
|Genius at Work (1946)||$5,000|
|Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)||$1,500 per week with ten week guarantee|
|Vampire Over London (1952)||$5,000 (flat rate)|
|Glen or Glenda (1953)||$1,000 (flat rate, 1 day)|
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