Friday, April 03, 2009

Bela Lugosi's Undead (10/20/06)

Life in Hollywood for the undead, no matter how famous, can be harsh. Consider the career of one of the world's most famous vampires, Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasko. Born October 20, 1882, Blasko was a matinee idol and Shakespearean star in his native Hungary. But when came to New York seeking fame and fortune, he could only find work in the Hungarian-language theatre. He got his break, though, when he was cast in the title role of the stage adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel, "Dracula." When Hollywood bought the play, Blasko went with it, under his more familiar stage name, Bela Lugosi. The film was a sensation. Lugosi's portrayal was as strong as his accent, and as a result he was typecast in horror pictures and B-movies forever more. Although he never stopped working (appearing in more than 100 pictures), he never scaled the heights that his longtime rival Boris "Frankenstein" Karloff reached. In 1994, Martin Landau was awarded an Oscar for his portrayal of Lugosi, an honor the real man, Hollywood's original vampire, never achieved.

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