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Lugosi, Bela

Category: Performer

Béla Ferenc Dezsö Blaskó (1882 –1956), better known as Bela Lugosi, was a Hungarian actor, who is best known for playing the character Dracula in the 1931 film and for his roles in various other horror films.

He had been playing small parts on the stage in his native Hungary before making his first film in 1917, but had to leave the country after the failed Hungarian Revolution, and arrived in America as a seaman on a merchant ship.

In 1927, he appeared as Count Dracula in a Broadway adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel, where he was talent-spotted as a character actor for the new Hollywood talkies, appearing in the first Dracula film with sound.

Through the 1930s, he occupied an important niche in popular horror films, with their East European setting, but his Hungarian accent limited his repertoire, and he tried unsuccessfully to avoid typecasting. Meanwhile, he was often paired with Boris Karloff, who was able to demand solo star billing. To his frustration, he was increasingly restricted to minor parts, for the sake of his name on the posters. Only in The Raven (1935) and Son of Frankenstein (1939) did he perform major roles again, although 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 had become addicted to morphine and methadone. This drug dependence was noted by producers, and the offers dwindled down to a few parts in Ed Wood‘s low-budget movies.

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