If you don't know who Bela Lugosi is by now then you aren't into horror film history as he is starred in the very first 'Dracula' film produced at Universal Studio's in 1931 but beforehand was in a Broadway stage production of the title role based on the popular novel by Bram Stoker which started the whole vampire craze. If it wasn't for that film or even the novel then none of this would ever happen.
Béla Ferenc Dezsõ Blaskó was born on October 20, 1882 in Lugos, Austria-Hungary which is actually 11 days before Halloween his birth area was in the western border of Transylvannia not far from the Count's home in the Carpathian Mountains.
He was destined to act in horror films while serving World War I, fleeing to Germany in 1919 as a result of his left-wing political activity. But beforehand he started his career doing live theatre in his native land of Hungary performing in many Shakespeare plays such as 'Hamlet', 'Macbeth', and 'The Taming of the Shrew'.
He then moved to Hollywood to pursue his career by performing in numerous motion pictures and stage acting. He also organised an actors union.
When he played in the stage version of 'Dracula' the show ran for 3 years and was subsequently, and memorably, filmed by Tod Browning in 1931, establishing Lugosi as one of the screen's greatest personifications of pure evil. Sadly, his reputation rapidly declined, mainly because he was only too happy to accept any part (and script) handed to him, and ended up playing pathetic parodies of his greatest role, in low-grade poverty row shockers.
Yet Universal found a new horror star in which he was hired regularly in their other films in major horror roles like Ygor in 'Son of Frankenstein', Dr. Mirakle in 'Murders in the Rue Morgue', Muder Legendare in 'White Zombie', a special appearance as a gypsy named no other than Bela in ''Wolfman' and also portrayed Frankenstein's monster in 'Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman' in which he was asked to play the monster in the original 'Frankenstein' movie but turned it down and was portrayed by Boris Karloff instead.
Bela really studied hard on how a vampire should react and in today's standards many other performers impresonate this legendary horror actor and in future performances too.
The list goes on with nameless classic B&W horror films in which he worked steadily in them until 1956 in a film called 'The Black Sleep'
Then tragedy struck him on August 16, 1956 in Los Angeles, California at the age of 73 in which he suffered and died of a heart attack and was buried in his dracula cape during his funeral ceremony.
He was married 5 times but only had one child out of that marriage.
pictured on one of a set of five 32¢ US commemorative postage stamps, issued 30 September 1997, celebrating "Famous Movie Monsters". He is shown as the title character in ' Dracula'. Other actors honored in this set of stamps, and the classic monsters they portray, are Lon Chaney as 'The Phantom of the Opera' ; Lon Chaney Jr. as 'The Wolf Man'; and Boris Karloff on two stamps as 'The Mummy' and the monster in 'Frankenstein'.
Long live the legendary king of horror who started many of these horror characters that we all know of growing up.