biography

Born Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasko on October 20, 1882, in Lugos, Hungary (now Romania), Bela Lugosi ran away from home at the tender age of 12. He supported himself through a succession of menial jobs. Early on he developed a taste for the theatre, and his ambition and natural talent made him a popular actor in his native country. Lugosi was into his 30s when he volunteered to serve his country during World War I. After his tenure in the service, he returned to acting and appeared in several Hungarian silent films, often billed as "Arisztid Olt." By 1920 he fled Hungary and landed in Germany, where he acted several films. His residence in Germany was brief, and in late 1921 or early 1922 Lugosi had arrived in the U.S. to stay. His poor command of the English language notwithstanding, talent and skill got him cast in the Broadway production of The Red Poppy just a year or so after arriving in the US.

Bela LugosiBela Lugosi

LEFT: Handsome 1920s portrait of Bela Lugosi. RIGHT: As Dracula

Lugosi's first U.S. film role came in the drama The Silent Command (1923; with Edmund Lowe). While he acted in several other films in the 1920s, his big breakthrough role came in 1927, when he was cast in the title role of the Broadway production Dracula. The play was a sensation, and Hollywood producers began to take notice. Relocating to Hollywood in 1928, Lugosi made several films in the the fading days of silent films, and in 1930 director Tod Browning asked him to reprise his role as the title character in Universal's Dracula.

the films of bela lugosi

Dracula (1931)

Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, and Dwight FryeBela Lugosi and Helen ChandlerBela LugosiBela LugosiBela Lugosi and Frances Dade

Images from Dracula. LEFT: With Helen Chandler as Mina and Dwight Frye as Renfield. CENTER A: With Helen Chandler. CENTER B and CENTER C: Lugosi as Dracula. RIGHT: Count Dracula prepares to bite Lucy (Frances Dade)

Island of Lost Souls (1933)

Bela Lugosi

From Island of Lost Souls, one of Lugosi's best films

Mark of the Vampire (1935)

Bela Lugosi and Carroll BorlandBela Lugosi and Carroll Borland

Scenes from Mark of the Vampire with Carroll Borland

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff

Lugosi as Ygor and Boris Karloff as the Monster in Universal's stylish horror flick Son of Frankenstein

You'll Find Out (1940)

Peter Lorre, Bela Lugosi, and Boris Karloff

With Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff in the RKO comedy You'll Find Out

The Devil Bat (1940)

Dave O'Brien and Bela Lugosi

With Dave O'Brien in PRC's first horror film, The Devil Bat

Spooks Run Wild (1941)

Bela Lugosi, Dorothy Short, and Dave O'Brien

From Monogram's horror/comedy flick Spooks Run Wild with Dave O'Brien and Dorothy Short

Night Monster (1942)

Bela Lugosi

From Night Monster, possibly the best of Lugosi's later Universal horror films

The Ape Man (1943)

Bela Lugosi

Lobby card from The Ape Man, a comedy/horror film produced by Monogram


Voodoo Man (1944)

Louise Currie, Wanda McKay, John Carradine, Bela Lugosi, George Zucco, Ellen Hall, and Terry Walker

From Monogram's horror flick Voodoo Man with Louise Currie, Wanda McKay, John Carradine, George Zucco, Ellen Hall, and Terry Walker

Scared to Death (1947)

Bela Lugosi

Lobby card from Scared to Death, Lugosi's only color feature film. Also pictured are Gladys Blake, Angelo Rossitto, and Nat Pendleton

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

Bela Lugosi and Glenn StrangeLou Costello, Bela Lugosi, and Glenn Strange

LEFT: Dracula (Lugosi) rouses the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange) in the comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. RIGHT: With Lou Costello and Glenn Strange

later years

After the release of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein in 1948, roles simply vanished for Bela Lugosi. He didn't make another film until 1952, with the releases of Mother Riley Meets the Vampire and Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla. Lugosi then befriended low-budget director Edward D. Wood Jr. and acted in two of his technically inept but fun low-budget film efforts, Glen or Glenda? (1953) and Bride of the Monster (1955; with Tor Johnson). Lugosi's final film, discounting Plan Nine From Outer Space, is The Black Sleep (1956; with Basil Rathbone and Lon Chaney Jr.), an entertaining horror film with a larger budget that Wood's productions. For more information about Lugosi's personal and professional relationship with Ed Wood, check out Rudolph Grey's Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood.

Married several times, Lugosi's longest marriage was to Lillian Arch, whom he married in the early 1930s. She bore him a son, Bela Lugosi Jr., in 1938. But with employment and personal problems, the marriage dissolved in the early 1950s. A long-time sciatica sufferer (perhaps the main reason for his drug dependency), Lugosi entered rehabilitation in 1955 to beat his addiction to morphine and was one of the first celebrities to discuss his chemical dependency with the press. Later in 1955, just a year before his death, he married a fan, Hope Lininger. Lugosi suffered a fatal heart attack at age 73, on August 16, 1956. He was survived by his wife, Hope, and his son.

Lugosi's ex-wife Lillian married character actor Brian Donlevy in 1966. Donlevy died in 1972, and Lillian Lugosi Donlevy passed away in 1981.

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filmography

FILM
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) with Tor Johnson, Lyle Talbot, and Gregory Walcott; directed by Edward D. Wood Jr.
The Black Sleep (1956) with Basil Rathbone, Tor Johnson, Lon Chaney Jr., and John Carradine
Bride of the Monster (1955) with Tor Johnson and Dolores Fuller; directed by Edward D. Wood Jr.
Glen or Glenda (1953) with Edward D. Wood Jr., Dolores Fuller, Lyle Talbot, and Timothy Farrell; directed by Edward D. Wood Jr.
Mother Riley Meets the Vampire (1952) with Arthur Lucan
Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952) with Sammy Petrillo, Duke Mitchell, and Ray 'Crash' Corrigan
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) with Lon Chaney Jr., Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, and Glenn Strange
Scared to Death (1947) with George Zucco and Nat Pendleton; Lugosi's only known color film
Genius at Work (1946) with Lionel Atwill
The Body Snatcher (1945) with Boris Karloff and Rita Corday
Zombies on Broadway (1945) with Anne Jeffreys
One Body Too Many (1944) with Jack Haley and Lyle Talbot
Return of the Ape Man (1944) with John Carradine and George Zucco
Voodoo Man (1944) with John Carradine, Wanda McKay, and George Zucco
The Return of the Vampire (1944) with Nina Foch
Ghosts on the Loose (1943) with Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, and Ava Gardner
The Ape Man (1943) with Wallace Ford and Minerva Urecal
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) with Ilona Massey, Lon Chaney Jr., and Lionel Atwill
Bowery at Midnight (1942) with Dave O'Brien, Wanda McKay, John Archer, and Tom Neal
Night Monster (1942) with Lionel Atwill, Leif Erickson, and Irene Hervey
The Corpse Vanishes (1942) with Minerva Urecal
The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) with Lon Chaney Jr., Lionel Atwill, Ralph Bellamy, and Evelyn Ankers
Black Dragons (1942) with Clayton Moore
Invisible Ghost (1941)
The Wolf Man (1941) with Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy, and Evelyn Ankers
Spooks Run Wild (1941) with Dave O'Brien, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, and Dorothy Short
The Black Cat (1941) with Basil Rathbone
The Devil Bat (1940) with Dave O'Brien
You'll Find Out (1940) with Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre
Black Friday (1940) with Boris Karloff and Anne Nagel
The Saint's Double Trouble (1940) with George Sanders
The Human Monster (1939)
Ninotchka (1939) with Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas
The Gorilla (1939) with the Ritz Brothers, Patsy Kelly, and Lionel Atwill
Son of Frankenstein (1939) with Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, and Lionel Atwill
The Phantom Creeps (1939) with Regis Toomey; some episodes of this serial ran on Mystery Science Theater 3000
S.O.S. Coast Guard (1937) with Ralph Byrd
Postal Inspector (1936) with Ricardo Cortez
Shadow of Chinatown (1936) with Bruce Bennett
The Invisible Ray (1936) with Boris Karloff
Chandu on the Magic Island (1935)
Murder by Television (1935) with June Collyer and Hattie McDaniel
The Raven (1935) with Boris Karloff
The Mystery of the Marie Celeste (1935)
Mark of the Vampire (1935) with Lionel Atwill and Carroll Borland
The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1935)
The Best Man Wins (1935)
The Return of Chandu (1934)
The Black Cat (1934) with Boris Karloff and David Manners
Island of Lost Souls (1933) with Charles Laughton and Richard Arlen
The Devil's in Love (1933) with Loretta Young
International House (1933) with W.C. Fields, George Burns, and Gracie Allen
Night of Terror (1933)
The Whispering Shadow (1933) a twelve-chapter serial
Chandu the Magician (1932)
The Death Kiss (1932) with David Manners
White Zombie (1932) with Madge Bellamy
Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) with Arlene Francis
Broadminded (1931) with Joe E. Brown and Thelma Todd
The Black Camel (1931) with Warner Oland and Dwight Frye
Women of All Nations (1931) with Humphrey Bogart
Dracula (1931) with Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye, and David Manners
Oh, for a Man (1930) with Jeanette MacDonald
Viennese Nights (1930)
Renegades (1930) with Myrna Loy
Wild Company (1930)
Such Men Are Dangerous (1930) with Warner Baxter and Hedda Hopper
The Thirteenth Chair (1929)
Prisoners (1929) with Corinne Griffith
The Veiled Woman (1929)
Punchinello (1926)
Daughters Who Pay (1925)
The Midnight Girl (1925) with Lila Lee
The Rejected Woman (1924) with Alma Rubens and Conrad Nagel
The Silent Command (1923)
Ihre Hoheit die Tanzerin (1922)
Daughter of the Night (1921)
Caravan of Death (1920)
Last of the Mohicans (1920)
The Deerslayer and Chingachgook (1920)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)

bela lugosi links

The Officially Licensed Bela Lugosi Website
See this site for biographical information, a filmography, fan club information, a gallery, and more.

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Bela Lugosi, George Zucco, Nat Pendleton, and Joyce Compton star in Scared to Death (1947)

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