Bela LugosiWho comes to mind when you hear the name Dracula? Gary Oldman? Christopher Lee? Or is it in my opinion the ultimate Dracula, Bela Lugosi?

Lugosi was born in Hungary and was already a successful actor with the National Theatre of Hungary when he moved to America at the age of 42. He was forced to leave his homeland after the Hungarian Revolution in 1919 because of his political beliefs.

Born Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó he changed his name when he left Hungary, using the name Lugosi after his hometown, Lugos in Transylvania.

He played the role of Dracula on Broadway for 3 years starting in 1927 when he was talent spotted by a Hollywood studio. He first played the role of Dracula on the silver screen in 1931 and was an immediate hit with his perfect blend of attractiveness and evil!

He appeared in lots of horror movies during the 1930s, frequently with Boris Karloff, and often found himself being type-cast in horror films set in Eastern Europe because of his Hungarian accent.

Bet you didn’t know:

Sesame Street’s Count von Count (“I loooove to count”) was based specifically on Bela Lugosi’s interpretation of Count Dracula. The Count was always my favourite character, he and the grumpy one who lived in the dustbin (what was his name?). Big Bird was just annoying… If you fancy comparing performances you can see the Sesame Street version underneath Lugosi’s version below.

Lugosi continued appearing in movies during the 1940s and up until his death in 1956, but without ever repeating the success he found as Dracula. See him at his mysterious best below:

Bela Lugosi

Irene Ware and Bela Lugosi in Chandu the Magician (1932).

Bela Lugosi

Louise Currie & Béla Lugosi in The Ape Man 1943

Bela Lugosi

Edward Norris, Bela Lugosi, and Anita Louise in The Gorilla (1939)

Bela Lugosi

Béla Lugosi (left) & Angelo Rossitto in Scared to Death 1947

Image source and copyright: 1, 2, 3: This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed.

4, This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. 5: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.