Monday, October 20, 2008

Todays Birthday - October 20 - BELA LUGOSI

Bela Lugosi was born on October 20, 1882 as Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasko in Lugos, Austria-Hungary (now Lugoj, Romania).

Lugosi was an iconic Hungarian stage and film actor who was best know for his portrayal of Count Dracula in the American Broadway stage production in 1927, and subsequent film in 1931 of Bran Stoker's "Dracula".

Lugosi was the youngest of four children to Paula De Vojenich and Istvan BLasko, a banker. He and his sister Vilma were raised in a Roman Catholic family. Lugosi started his acting career in Hungary in several Shakespearean plays and in other major roles. He began appearing in Hungarian silent films under the stage name Arisztid Olt. During World War I, he served as an infantry lieutenant in the Austro- Hungarian Army.

Lugosi got married for the first time in 1917 to Ilona Szmick, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1920 reputedly over political differences with Szmick's parents.

Lugosi's first film appearance was in 1917, he would make twelve films in Hungary between 1917 and 1918, before leaving for Germany in 1920. He than entered the United States illegally at New Orleans in December of 1920. He finally got legally inspected at Ellis Island in March of 1921.

On his arrival, the 6'1", 180lb. Bela worked for some time as a laborer, than entered the theater in New York City's Hungarian Immigrant Colony. His first major American film came in 1923 called "The Silent Command".

In 1929, Lugosi took his place in Hollywood Society and scandal when he married wealthy San Francisco widow Beatrice Weeks, but divorced three days later. Weeks cited "Clara Bow" as the other woman.

Lugosi was approached to star in a stage production of Dracula. He was very successful, but despite his critical acclaimed performance on stage he was not Universal Studio's first choice for the roll of Dracula. A persistent rumor asserts that Lon Chaney was Universal's first choice for the role and Lugosi was chosen only due to Chaney's death shortly before production.

Following the success of Dracula in 1931, Lugosi received a studio contract with Universal. On June 26, 1931 he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 1933, he married Lillian Arch. They had a child who was named Bela G. Lugosi. They divorced twenty years later in 1953.

Though his association with the Dracula character, Lugosi found himself typecast as a horror villain in such movies as "The Rue Morgue", The Raven" and "Son of Frankenstein". These were all for Universal Studios. His accent while a part of his image limited the roles he could play.

Lugosi married his fourth wife in 1955 and her name was Hope Linniger.

Bela Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16th, 1956 while lying on a couch in his Los Angeles home. He was seventy three.

Lugosi was buried wearing one of the Dracula stage play costumes as per the request of his son and his forth wife. He is interred at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City California. Contrary to popular belief he never requested to be buried in his Dracula cape. He son and forth wife has ascertained that many times.

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