(October 20, 1882 — August 16, 1956; born Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó
) was a Hungarian-born stage and screen actor mostly known for his work in horror movies, in particular the title role in the 1931 version
. Following this film's success, he suffered severely from type-casting and the limitations of his heavy native accent, and spent the vast bulk of his career eking out a living in various low-budget productions, culminating (if that is the word) in his work with director Ed Wood
He worked on several occasions with/was overshadowed by Boris Karloff
. He managed to make a sort of comeback in death, however, when Martin Landau won an Oscar for his brilliant potrayal of Lugosi in Tim Burton
's 1994 film Ed Wood
Other notable or infamous movies in which he appeared: White Zombie
, Murders in the Rue Morgue
, The Wolfman (1941)
, Son of Frankenstein
(as Ygor, generally regarded as one of his best performances), The Ghost of Frankenstein
, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
, Glen or Glenda?
and Plan 9 from Outer Space
. He also had a supporting role in the classic Greta Garbo
, and many Mystery Science Theater 3000
fans will also remember him from the serial The Phantom Creeps
("Zees vill zimplify everytink!"
), as well as the movie Bride of the Monster
("He tampered in God's domain"
Also rather well known for being dead
. It wasn't his idea, but he was buried in Dracula costume. Peter Lorre
, who attended the funeral, joked that they should drive a stake through his heart just in case.
Bela Lugosi is known for these tropes:
- All in the Eyes: Multiple movies would make good use out of an illuminated close-up of Lugosi's. Dracula aside, both White Zombie and its sequel (which Béla wasn't actually in, funny enough) used this effect.
- Many people say that Bela wasn't that great of an actor, but pretty much everyone agrees that those eyes of his... those eyes... eyes that pierce you to your very soul. There is no escaping them... Uh. That is to say: Most people agree that he could use his eyes to amazing effect.
- Badass Cape: Dracula's long cape.
- Black Cloak: Buried with one, too, at his family's request, though against his own wishes.
- Classical Movie Vampire: His role is the Trope Maker. Most Dracula parodies follow this trope because of how renowned Legosi's performance was.
- Compelling Voice: He made sure to try to vocalize Dracula's hypnotic voice.
- Dramatic Pause: Somewhat justified in the fact that English is quite different from Hungarian (so different that the heavy accent it leaves when transitioning to English probably made his English sound worse than it actually did to most people. He was actually a very good speaker!) In fact, in 1934's The Black Cat, he has a small bit of dialogue in Hungarian, and naturally, the delivery of it flows like melted butter.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Lugosi's most notable film role before moving to America is probably that of Chingachgook in the 1920 silent two-parter Lederstrumpf.
- Fake Shemp: In Plan 9 from Outer Space.
- Gallows Humor: It's been attributed, to quite a few people, that Peter Lorre said at Lugosi's funeral; "Should we put a stake through him... just in case?"
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Bela Lugosi did not swear (not much, anyway), but Ed Wood made him give a whole lot of it.
- High Collar of Doom: By wearing the collar of the black cape up in the stage play of Dracula, turning around would blend in with the curtain and make it seem like he disappeared. In the movie version, he kept the collar up just for the heck of it, and high collars became an iconic part of the Villainous Fashion Sense.
- I Am Not Spock: Subverted, as with Leonard Nimoy himself. Lugosi may have resented how thoroughly he would end up type-cast, but he was always rather fond of the role of Dracula and proud of making such an indelible mark on popular culture.
- I Do Not Drink Wine: Dracula didn't, but Béla? It's said he was quite a fan.
- The Igor: His role in Son of Frankenstein helped codify this trope. He's the original Ygor!
- Large Ham: He could play the part subtle at moments, but he loved to just flourish with the role.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The man's name, and most of his characters.
- Ominous Opera Cape: The way he flourished the long, black cape as Dracula made dark capes a common villain accessory.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Although more modern Dracula adaptations avoid imitating his accent like the plague, it may be the most accurate one, as historically Vlad Țepeș was ethnically Hungarian.
- Stage Name: He was born Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó, and took the name Lugosi from his hometown of Lugos, Hungary (which is now Lugoj, Romania).
- Universal Horror: The genre in which he did his most famous work.
- Vampires Are Sex Gods: He played Dracula as a seductive and charismatic villain.
- Lugosi himself was turned into a sex symbol overnight because of Dracula.
- Vampire Vords: This is a trope he actually averted. He had no problems pronouncing his W's.
- White-Dwarf Starlet: He got roles after Dracula, but they eventually dried up.