This was a pretty fascinating biography. Bela Lugosi certainly led a memorable, adventurous life. He starred on stage and on film in two continents and was married four times - once for four days!
Outside of those poor nuptial performances, I thought he came off as a good man, a good actor, and a man who often didn't get the breaks or his acting legacy would have been greater. Years after this death, Lugosi has become a true "Hall Of Fame" acting celebrity, however, and is given credit for his talents and dedication to his craft.
One of his problems was that he got typecast after his first huge movie hit, "Dracula." From that moment to this day, that's what people think of when you mention the name "Bela Lugosi." But, as it's shown and explained on this program, Lugosi was a pretty good actor, especially for one who came to this country as an adult and spoke no English. He never could get rid of his strong Hungarian accent, either, which didn't help him land roles.
Shortly after this Dracula hit movie, Lugosi made a huge mistake in judgement. He was offered the role of Frankstein's monster but turned it down when he saw the script and that his character would have no speaking lines. What a mistake, as it's said here: having back- to-back roles of playing Dracula and Frankenstein would have made Lugosi's career far brighter.
By the way, I've often heard that Lugosi bad-mouthed fellow monster-playing icon Boris Karloff, but it turns out that is not true. The two were friends and Bela respected Boris. In fact, a lot of Lugosi's better films were the ones he made with Karloff.
Lugosi's only child, Bela Jr., speaks well of his father, saying he was a good father, paid a lot of attention to him and he nothing but fond memories. In addition to his son, we hear from veteran actors Ray Walston and Martin Landau. Walston had very interesting comments and Landau won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Lugosi in 1994's "Ed Wood."
As we learn, Lugosi had a lot of ups and downs and never really had anything nearly as big as "Dracula." In the end, the man suffered for years with pain and became addicted to the pain- killer morphine. He had a become a drug addict. He publicly admitted it and went into a rehab. Tabloids tore him apart. You have to remember, we are talking the 1950s, not today where this kind of story among celebrities is commonplace. Bela Lugosi was the first celebrity EVER to admit he had a drug problem, and then do something about it. He got clean and made a little comeback before dying on the set of the infamous Ed Wood film, "Plan 9 From Outer Space."
Some of the interesting comments made in this episode: Universal Studios wanted Lon Chaney to play Dracula, but he died in 1930. They still preferred three other actors: Chester Morris, Conrad Veidt and Paul Muni. Fortunately, the right man - who had done it on Broadway successfully - got the job!......Bela was born in Transylvania.....He left home at the tender age of 12, to become an actor......Once on stage, he went under several last names before settling on Lugosi, named after the town he grew up in....Became a film actor in Germany, before fleeing to the United States.....Volunteering his help during World War II, he did filmed announces urging citizens "to donate your b-l-a-w-d-d-d!!!!" (Who better to ask for some blood?)
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