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September 9, 2023

40 Vintage Portrait Photos of Bela Lugosi in the 1930s

Born 1882 as Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó, Hungarian–American actor Bela Lugosi began acting on the Hungarian stage in 1902. After playing in 172 productions in his native Hungary, Lugosi moved on to appear in Hungarian silent films in 1917. He had to suddenly emigrate to Germany after the failed Hungarian Communist Revolution of 1919 because of his former socialist activities (organizing a stage actors’ union), leaving his first wife in the process. He acted in several films in Weimar Germany, before arriving in New Orleans as a seaman on a merchant ship, then making his way north to New York City and Ellis Island.

In 1927, Lugosi starred as Count Dracula in a Broadway adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel, moving with the play to the West Coast in 1928 and settling down in Hollywood. He later starred in the 1931 film version of Dracula directed by Tod Browning and produced by Universal Pictures. Through the 1930s, he occupied an important niche in horror films, but his notoriety as “Dracula” and ominous thick Hungarian accent greatly limited the roles offered to him, and he unsuccessfully tried for years to avoid the typecasting.

Lugosi co-starred in a number of films with Boris Karloff, who was able to demand top billing. To his frustration, Lugosi, a charter member of the American Screen Actors Guild, was increasingly restricted to mad scientist roles because of his inability to speak English more clearly. He was kept employed by the studios principally so that they could put his name on the posters. Among his teamings with Karloff, he performed major roles only in The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939); even in The Raven, Karloff received top billing despite Lugosi performing the lead role.

By this time, Lugosi had been receiving regular medication for sciatic neuritis, and he became addicted to doctor-prescribed morphine and methadone. This drug dependence (and his gradually worsening alcoholism) was becoming apparent to producers, and after 1948’s Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, the offers dwindled to parts in low-budget films.

Lugosi died of a heart attack in 1956, in the bedroom of his Los Angeles apartment while taking a nap, aged 73. Take a look at these vintage photos to see portraits of Bela Lugosi in the 1930s.

1 comment:

  1. "Bela Lugosi's dead
    The bats have left the bell tower...Oh Bela..."




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