Edit
Bela Lugosi Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (5)  | Trade Mark (7)  | Trivia (66)  | Personal Quotes (15)  | Salary (22)

Overview (5)

Born in Lugos, Kingdom of Hungary, Austria-Hungary [now Lugoj, Timis County, Romania]
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameBéla Ferenc Dezsõ Blaskó
Nicknames Adelbert
Count Dracula
The Master of Horror
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Bela Lugosi was born Béla Ferenc Dezsö Blaskó on October 20, 1882, Lugos, Hungary, Austria-Hungary (now Lugoj, Romania), to Paula de Vojnich and István Blaskó, a banker. He was the youngest of four children. During WWI, he volunteered and was commissioned as an infantry lieutenant, and was wounded three times.

A distinguished stage actor in his native Hungary, Austria-Hungary, 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. Also in 1931, he became a U.S. citizen. Sadly, his reputation rapidly declined, mainly because he had been blacklisted by the main studios and had no choice but to accept any part (and script) handed to him, and ended up playing parodies of his greatest role, in low-grade poverty row films. Due to shady blacklisting among the top Hollywood studio executives, he refused to sell out or to compromise his integrity, and therefore ended his career working for the legendary Worst Director of All Time, Edward D. Wood Jr..

Lugosi was married to Ilona Szmik (1917 - 1920), Ilona von Montagh (? - ?), and Lillian Arch (1933 - 1951). He is the father of Bela Lugosi Jr. (1938). Lugosi helped organize the Screen Actors Guild in the mid-'30s, joining as member number 28.

Bela Lugosi died of a heart attack August 16, 1956. He was buried in a Dracula costume, including a cape, but not the ones used in the 1931 film, contrary to popular--but unfounded--rumors.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: ReelDeal-2, Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk> & anonymous

Spouse (5)

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 (7 September 1921 - 1924) ( divorced)
Ilona Szmik (25 June 1917 - 1920) ( divorced)

Trade Mark (7)

Black slicked back hair
Thick Hungarian accent
The role of Count Dracula
Best known for his roles in horror films and particularly in films produced by Universal Studios
Renowned for treating even the most ridiculous of material with immense respect and his aggressive work ethic
Sartorial elegance and regal bearing wearing a tuxedo
Intense hypnotic gaze

Trivia (66)

Born in Lugos, Hungary (now Lugoj, Romania), from which he derived his eventual professional surname.
His son, Bela Lugosi Jr., practices law in Los Angeles, California (1995).
Following his death, he was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Were it not for his death, Lon Chaney, rather than Lugosi, would have been the director Tod Browning's choice for the starring role in Dracula (1931).
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 roles, and in reality, although Lugosi and Karloff had almost no relationship off-set, they were reportedly amicable whenever working together.
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).
Had a 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 United States 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 American film role, a villainous role in The Silent Command (1923) as a result.
At the time of his death, Lugosi was in such poor financial straits that Frank Sinatra was rumored to have paid for his funeral. Actually, Bela's widow Hope and ex-wife Lillian paid it; Sinatra's only connection to the aging actor was sending him a $1000 check during his drug rehabilitation. The rumor that Boris Karloff attended the funeral was also an urban myth, as he wasn't in California at the time.
He performed in live-action reference footage for the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence of Walt Disney's Fantasia (1940). He was, of course, the terrifying demon Chernabog.
His Los Angeles home was purchased by Johnny Depp, the actor who portrayed his friend Edward D. Wood Jr. in the film Ed Wood (1994).
Further immortalized in the song "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus, which was featured in The Hunger (1983) and went on to become a dance 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 performance in Tod Browning's Dracula (1931) created such a sensation that he reportedly received more fan mail from females than even Clark Gable.
His name had become such as asset that 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".
There is a persistent myth that would have us believe that Bela Lugosi spoke very little English by the time he shot Dracula (1931), and learned his lines phonetically. This has been debunked by Lugosi historians and is simply not true.
He received only $500 per week for the seven-week engagement on Dracula (1931) 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.
Served in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I as an infantry captain. He later recounted in stories on film sets about his experiences, which included 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 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 (1936) than he earned for starring in Dracula (1931).
According to biographer Robert Cremer, Lugosi was not only the finest party host among Hungarian members of the Hollywood community but also an inveterate practical joker. When other expatriates such as Joe Pasternak, Ilona Massey, Michael Curtiz and Willy Pogany were guests, he would hire comic actor Vince Barnett to play the role of a clumsy waiter spilling drinks and dropping plates of hors d'oeuvres, resulting in near misses for the guests to Lugosi's delight.
His wife and son had him buried in his cape from his role as the title character of Dracula (1931).
He did not wear fangs when playing the title character in Dracula (1931). The same was true of Frank Langella in Dracula (1979).
He has two roles in common with Christopher Lee: (1) Lugosi played Count Dracula in Dracula (1931) and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) while Lee played him in ten films from Horror of Dracula (1958) to Dracula and Son (1976) and (2) Lugosi played Frankenstein's Monster in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) while Lee played him in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957).
He has two roles in common with Lon Chaney Jr.: (1) Lugosi played Count Dracula in Dracula (1931) and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) while Chaney played him in Son of Dracula (1943) and (2) Chaney played Frankenstein's Monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), in which Lugosi also appeared, while Lugosi played him in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), in which Chaney also appeared.
He appeared with Boris Karloff in eight films: The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), The Invisible Ray (1936), Son of Frankenstein (1939), You'll Find Out (1940), Black Friday (1940) The Body Snatcher (1945) and Gift of Gab (1934).
He was posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6430 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
Bela Lugosi passed away on August 16, 1956, two months away from what would have been his 74th birthday on October 20.
Is referenced in The Kinks 1972 song "Celluloid Heroes", with the lines "Avoid stepping on Bela Lugosi, because he's liable to turn and bite.".
Contrary to popular belief, Lugosi only played Count Dracula in two films: Dracula (1931) and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). He played vampires in many other films, but none of them--besides the aforementioned two--were Count Dracula.
Bela's personal cane featured in his infamous scene in "Plan 9 From Outer Space" sold at Bonhams and Butterfields for $10,000. This cane is considered one of the only remaining props from the film. [November 2015].
Privately, Bela Lugosi struggled with his dependency upon morphine, a drug he was given to deal with leg pain from his war injuries. However, tabloid reports erroneously purported him as a "drug addict", however there is a significant difference between being physically and clinically depend upon a drug, and being "addicted" to it. The latter denotes the presence of a morbid mental want, which is absent in a medical dependency, which is a physiological need.
Because of his political involvement, his remaining in Hungary became hazardous, so he left Hungary. He went via Vienna to Berlin, where he continued his film career.
Before his success in the 1931 Tod Browning film, Lugosi had already portrayed "Dracula" on Broadway, starting in 1927. Actor Lon Chaney was originally chosen for the title role, but with his unexpected death, the search for a new Dracula started. Bela Lugosi campaigned hard for the part, and thus won the role that made him a silver-screen horror legend.
Because his parents were against his plans to become an actor, Bela Lugosi left his family at the tender age of 12. After working in a mine, he would later join the theater, where he gained his first experience as an actor. Thus classically trained, he subsequently joined the film business, in 1917, and, early on, used the pseudonym Arisztid Olt.
At the end of the Sledge Hammer episode Sledge Hammer!: The Last of the Red Hot Vampires (1987) there is a dedication "In Memory of Mr. Blasko", Lugosi's birth name.
Although he expressed interest in playing a romantic lead as he had in Hungary, Bela Lugosi only got to share a kiss once with a female co-star in a romantic scene, during his entire Hollywood career. That film was The Midnight Girl (1925).
Became a proud and patriotic U.S. citizen in 1931, the same year he starred as the legendary Count Dracula (1931), whereas fellow horror actor, Boris Karloff lived in the U.S.A for 45 years yet never sought American citizenship.
Long before Dracula (1931), shots of Bela Lugosi's hypnotic eyes in extreme close-up were often used in his films, including Sklaven fremden Willens (1920), The Silent Command (1923) and, later, more famously in White Zombie (1932).
Wore a tuxedo in nearly every film he ever made, except for the ones where he played beasts or monsters, such as Island of Lost Souls (1932), Son of Frankenstein (1939) and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943).
Bela Lugosi was a philatelist. As such, he would have been thrilled to know that he, himself, ended up gracing a stamp.
Is the model for the Disney demon Chernabog, in Fantasia (1940)'s "Night on Bald Mountain" spooky sequence. Bela Lugosi was photographed in miscellaneous evil, demon-like poses for the animators to draw the demon character based upon his modeling. The end result on-screen unmistakably shows typical Lugosi traits, expressions, and mannerisms in Chernabog.
Owned a large, framed, self-portrait painting he had commissioned of himself, in the 1930's. He is depicted as standing in a gray suit, one hand upon his hip, the other holding his coat and hat. This painting hung in his home until the day he died. It is now owned by Metallica's bassist, Kirk Hammett, a hard-core horror movie fan and horror memorabilia collector.
White Zombie (1932) was a personal favorite of his films, for which he stepped in and did some of the directing, according to his son, Bela Lugosi Jr..
Though famous for his role as Dracula, even in his native country of Hungary the movie itself was surprisingly unknown there, along with most American pictures he had appeared in. Dracula was released in Hungary shortly after its American debut in 1931, but many critics and viewers slammed it. The movie fell into obscurity shortly afterwards, and very few American niche genre movies (such as horror and monster films) reached the country during most of the 20th century, mainly due to the strict Communist censorship. It was only through the advent of home video and the internet that most Hungarians finally saw the performances that had made Lugosi a star in the West. To this day only a couple of his works have been dubbed into his own language, and the DVD releases have been out of print since the early 2000s.
Was President of the Hungarian Council for Democracy, to which many leading Americans of Hungarian descent were active.
His parents names were Stephen Blasko and Paula Von Vojnics. Studio hype claimed in the press that Bela's father was a Count, but he was actually a bank president. His brothers' and sister's names were Vilma, Hajos & Laszlo.
In spite of his cinematic association with the dark side and portraying miscellaneous evil-doing characters, Lugosi was a Catholic and, as such, was buried at the Holy Cross, a Catholic cemetery in Culver City, California.
His favorite food was stuffed cabbage, a popular Hungarian dish.
His favorite sport to watch was soccer and his favorite one to play was golf.
His favorite screen role was Dracula (1931).
Legally changed his name to Bela Lugosi from Blasko. He added an "i" to the end of the name of Lugos, the town he was born.
In a form requesting biographical information for Cameo Pictures Corporation, next to the question "earliest childhood ambition", facetious Bela wrote "highway bandit". In answer to "present ambition", he wrote "dude ranch". In response to "favorite screen players", he wrote "none", then crossed that out and wrote "Mickey Mouse". His patience must have been tested when seeing the privacy invasive question requesting "highlights of your life", with three blank lines to fill out for 1 to 30 years, in 10 year increments. To cut through the aggravating nosiness, Bela used a curly bracket through all three lines and cheekily wrote: "it is no one's business".
In spite of wearing a tuxedo in nearly every film where he didn't portray a hairy beast, he said he preferred sportswear to formal, his favorite material was flannel, and he favored bright colors.
Although his status in He Who Gets Slapped (1924) remains unconfirmed to date, in August 2017, videos surfaced with screen captures of a clown extra that bears a striking resemblance to Lugosi and, allegedly, would finally offer proof that Lugosi was indeed part of the crowd, in this silent film. Initially, a teenage boy named Richard Sheffield, who befriended Bela Lugosi in the 1950's, found two photographs among Lugosi's personal scrapbook of his own work, whence the speculation that he had worked in this silent started.
In the 2004 Hungarian DVD release of the Universal Horror movies, his voice was dubbed by János Papp, who is known also for dubbing many of John Goodman's and Morgan Freeman's film roles, and is the modern Hungarian voice actor for Fred Flintstone. But Lugosi's most iconic film, Dracula (1931), was only released in his home country with subtitles.
He was likely the basis for the Marvel Comics villain Belasco, whose name is a shortened version of his birth name.
As heard in White Zombie (1932), Bela Lugosi pronounced French flawlessly, like a France native and, curiously enough, without a trace of his trademark Hungarian accent. It is unclear whether Bela was fluent in the language. The reason why is unclear, considering that Lugosi dropped out of school when he was 12 years old, and he is not known to have lived in France. It is equally unclear whether he also spoke any German. (Lugosi lived and acted in movies in Germany for a few years.).
Boris Karloff often followed in Bela Lugosi's footsteps, copying his films & career. It all eerily started before they even met: both actors appeared in their own silent version of The Last of The Mohicans in fall 1920. However, whereas Lugosi starred in the German film Lederstrumpf, 1. Teil: Der Wildtöter und Chingachgook (1920) which came out first, in September 1920, with a sequel promptly following on November 10, 1920, Lederstrumpf, 2. Teil: Der Letzte der Mohikaner (1920), Karloff was merely an extra in the American version, The Last of the Mohicans (1920) which came out on November 21, 1920, a mere 11 days after Lugosi's second film (the sequel).
Lugosi joined the crew of a merchant ship as a sailor, to gain transport to the United States. He entered the country at New Orleans, Louisiana in December 1920.
Lugosi's birthplace of Lugoj is currently part of Timis County, Romania. The county seat is Timisoara. Most of the county was annexed by the Kingdom of Romania in 1919, part of the border changes at the end of World War I.
During World War I, Lugosi served in the infantry and ski patrol of the Austro-Hungarian Army. He reached the rank of Hauptmann (Captain). He received the Wound Metal (Verwundetenmedaille), after suffering combat injuries in the East Front of the War.
Following World War I, Lugosi was an activist for an actors' union in Hungary. In 1919, there was a coup d'état in Hungary and a right-wing military dictatorship rose to power. Union members were persecuted as "leftists", and Lugosi fled into self-exile. He spend some time as an expatriate actor n Austria and Weimar Republic Germany.
Lugosi's parents were István Blaskó and Paula de Vojnich. Blaskó was a Hungarian banker, and de Vojnich was Serbian.

Personal Quotes (15)

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 them if I have a chance to look deep into their hearts and their minds. If I find there something, something worthwhile, some... some human kindness, some sympathy.
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 (1931) 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 it never ends.
Look to Count Károlyi as Hungary's own Abraham Lincoln!
[asked about the Hungarian National Front of independence] The Hungarian underground really crystallizes the common denominator of resistance, which binds all the people who have felt the whiplash of fascism. Like the heroic people of France and Poland and Greece and Yugoslavia, the people of Hungary, the real Hungary, are fighting.
Circumstances made me the theatrical personality I am, which many people believe is also a part of my personal life. My next picture, Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), will continue to establish me as a weird, gruesome creature. As for my own feelings on the subject, I have always felt I would rather play - say Percy Marmont roles than Lon Chaney types of roles.

Salary (22)

Dracula (1931) $3,500
50 Million Frenchmen (1931) $1,000
Chandu the Magician (1932) $2,500
White Zombie (1932) $800 /week
Island of Lost Souls (1932) $875
The Black Cat (1934) $3,000
Gift of Gab (1934) $250 (1 day)
Mark of the Vampire (1935) $3,000
The Raven (1935) $5,000
The Mystery of the Mary Celeste (1935) $10,000
The Invisible Ray (1936) $4,000
Postal Inspector (1936) $5,000 (flat rate)
SOS Coast Guard (1937) $1,500
Son of Frankenstein (1939) $500 /week, later raised to $3500/week
You'll Find Out (1940) $3,750
The Return of the Vampire (1943) $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
Mother Riley Meets the Vampire (1952) $5,000 (flat rate)
Glen or Glenda (1953) $1,000 (flat rate, 1 day)
Bride of the Monster (1955) $1,000

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

View agent, publicist, legal and company contact details on IMDbPro Pro Name Page Link

Contribute to This Page


Recently Viewed