It was the dawn of horror movies and one of the greatest actors to be part of that amazing genre was Bela Lugosi. Born in the absolutely fitting location of Transylvania in 1882, Bela would become the 2nd most famous son of the area next to Vlad Tepes aka Dracula (to most). Moving to the United States was the key to making Bela one of my heroes. He would serve in the Hungarian Military as well as being a prominent actor in Hungary prior to his move.
In 1931 after the devastating death of Lon Chaney (another horror hero), Bela would find his signature role in the black and white classic Dracula. Bela broke all pre-conceived notions of a vampire. His dark mesmerizing eyes, thick accent (Dracula was his first actual English speaking role) and electrifying smile would make him one of the sexiest vampires ever created.
Becoming Dracula for Bela was a double edged sword. It brought him great acclaim and wealth (for that time), but it would also work against him in his ability to portray different roles in Hollywood. Every part he played would be compared to his excellence as the renowned vampire.
Bela passed away in 1956 at the age of 73 and was appropriately buried in one of his famous capes. His son Bela Jr, bears a striking resemblance to his famous namesake father and often visited the sets. He even recalls a visit to see his father in action in the motion picture 'Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein'.
Fast forward to today. As a horror fan and aspiring novelist, I've always looked to Hollywood for motivation and conceptual ideas. In my vast library of DVDs, a large section is all about Vampires and I have every Bela movie. He inspired me in so many different ways. From his acting, his political views, his fight for acceptance in his new homeland and for his dedication to excellence.
Bela Lugosi will always be remembered for being Dracula, but to me, he will always be my hero.
Nyugodjék Békében Bela!