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Bela Lugosi

Bela Lugosi

Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó (Hungarian: [ˈbeːlɒ ˈfɛrɛnt͡s ˈdɛʒøː ˈblɒʃkoː]; October 20, 1882 – August 16, 1956), known professionally as Bela Lugosi (Hungarian: [ˈluɡoʃi]), was a Hungarian-American actor best remembered for portraying Count Dracula in the 1931 film, Ygor in Son of Frankenstein (1939) and his roles in many other horror films from 1931 through 1956. Lugosi began acting on the Hungarian stage in 1902. After playing in 172 different productions in his native Hungary, Lugosi moved on to making 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. 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, he 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 thick Hungarian accent greatly limited the roles offered to him, and he unsuccessfully tried for years to avoid the typecasting. He was often paired in 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 minor parts because of his inability to speak the English language more clearly. He was kept employed by the studio 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, the offers eventually dwindled to a few parts in low-budget films directed by Ed Wood, including a brief (posthumous) appearance in Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957). Lugosi married five times and had one son, Bela George (with his fourth wife, Lillian).
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