Bela Lugosi (Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó) was a well respected Hungarian stage actor. Once he came to America he forged a legacy that left an imprint on the horror genre, contributing to the mythos as the sexually provocative prototype of seduction and danger. Bela became the model for the confluence of sensuality attraction, romance, and danger in horror. We all became drawn to his stare, and once he instilled in us that familiar dread, he established himself as the beloved face of terror.
In 1937, a small Broadway theater put on a production based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But actors refused to play the lead role, a character who was both man and fiend and wore flamboyant makeup. Dracula would suck the blood of women with a tremulous subtext of sexual penetration.
At the last minute an unknown European actor appeared. His English was not very good but seemed to fit the otherworldly persona necessary to present this romantic menacing evil spirit. Bela claimed he was born in Transylvania, and once he was given the role he only asked that he could interpret the character and make it his own.
And though Bela will always be remembered as the most iconic symbol of Dracula, some of his greatest, and in my opinion underrated, performances lie within his portrayal of Dr. Vitus Werdegast in Edgar Ulmer’s The Black Cat (1934). There he evokes pathos as a tormented soul. And he brings a wonderful sardonic irony as Igor in 1939’s Son of Frankenstein.
The rest is history…
Bela Lugosi and Henry B. Walthall in Chandu the Magician (1932
Bela Lugosi, Edmund Lowe, and Irene Ware in Chandu the Magician (1932)
Bela Lugosi and Arlene Francis in Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)
Bela Lugosi in Island of Lost Souls (1932)
Bela Lugosi and Irene Ware in The Raven (1935)
Bela Lugosi and Frederick Peters in White Zombie (1932)
Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, and Robert Frazer in White Zombie (1932)
Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Lucille Lund in The Black Cat (1934)
Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in The Black Cat (1934)
Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in The Invisible Ray (1936)
Bela Lugosi and Greta Gynt in The Dark Eyes of London (1939)
Son of Frankenstein 1939 Bela and Boris
Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone, and Edgar Norton in Son of Frankenstein (1939)
This is your EverLovin’ Joey thinking fondly of the sensual man in the cape — who still gives us shivers and Schadenfreude from the immortal screen. With love always Bela, blood is the life!