Bela Lugosi was born on October 20th 1882. He is best known for his role as DRACULA and many are surprised to hear he only played the character twice on the screen. First in the 1931 Universal original and then again 17 years later in ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. He was slated to play the character in 1936’s DRACULA’S DAUGHTER but a last minute change of the script cut him from the film. When Universal brought Dracula back for 1944’s HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN followed up a year later with HOUSE OF DRACULA they cast John Carradine in the role. Carradine is an interesting actor but Lugosi owned the Dracula role.
Lugosi’s second most popular role was probably Ygor in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939) where he stole the show from Boris Karloff and battled for king of ham with Basil Rathbone who played the title role.
Lugosi fell on some hard times and ended up working for second tier studios making some kind of bad horror movies but he always gave it 100% in every role he played.
Long live Bela Lugosi.
His Best Films;
1- THE BLACK CAT (1934) his first teaming with Karloff in a movie about devil worship.
2- DRACULA (1931) and A&C MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948) He is Dracula.
3- RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE (1943) Columbia Pictures did this sequel to Dracula which they weren’t supposed to do, but that didn’t stop them. He plays a different Count but he’s still Dracula.
4- SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939) and GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942) - his original role as Ygor and the follow up. By the end of GHOST his brain has been transplanted into the head of the Monster so it’s a natural that he takes over the role of the Monster in FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN (1943) but sadly they edited his role down so much that it became a parody.
5- ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932) Lugosi is the head monster man on Dr Morreau’s island.
6- WHITE ZOMBIE (1932) Lugosi is Murder Legendre the zombie master.
7- BOWERY AT MIDNIGHT (1942) This one is tough to slog through but stay with it for the last fifteen minutes of the hour long film because its got a good payoff.
8- BRIDE OF THE MONSTER (1955) His work with Ed Wood was immortalized in the Tim Burton film but this grade Z movie is made better by Bela’s final good performance in a film. Yes he is listed as being in PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE but it’s only minimal footage shot before his death in 1956.
9- MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE (1932) There’s little of Poe in this, but Bela is wild as the Monkey trainer turned serial killer.
10- THE RAVEN (1935)- Karloff and Lugosi paired up again, this time Bela gets the better role.