BELA LUGOSI Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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Born Be’la Ferenc Dezso Blasko, the actor who brought Dracula to life on the silver screen changed his name for the stage, taking Lugosi as it meant “one from the town of Lugos.”


Bela Lugosi was the youngest of four children to be born into an upper middle-class family in Hungary. However, at the age of twelve he ran away and hoped to act. He found little work, other than in the mines or railroad yards, until one of his older sisters arrange for him to take some small roles in provincial theatre.


Formal training was the usual route for actors at this time, so Lugosi studied acting theory and method diligently.


Soon, Bela Lugosi was averaging thirty to forty roles per year, many of which were operettas, as he possessed a fine singing voice as a young man. In 1911, Lugosi went to work in the theatre in the capital city of Budapest, and gained much popularity.


When World War I broke out, although actors were exempt from military service, Bela volunteered to fight for his country and became an infantry lieutenant. He was wounded three times during the war, and decorated for his efforts, before leaving the army in 1916.


After the war, Bela Lugosi made several films under the name “Arisztidt Olt” until political turmoil in his own country forced him to move to Germany in 1919.


In 1921, Lugosi moved to New York, where he established a Hungarian-speaking troupe, as he himself still spoke no English. When, in 1923, he landed the role of Fernando in the Broadway production ‘The Red Poppy’, the actor learnt his lines phonetically.


1927 saw Bela Lugosi cast as ‘Dracula’ for the first time in the original Broadway show of the same name, in which he starred for two years. He then went on to do other film roles, before taking his ‘Dracula’ to the silver screen in 1930.


Lugosi went on to star in several other vampire films, before returning to the role of Dracula for the last time in ‘Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein’, in 1948.


Bela Lugosi died a peaceful death in 1956, and was buried in full ‘Dracula’ costume.