Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula circa 1931 courtesy
My husband laughs so hard the tears stream down his cheeks every time he watches Bela Legosi in the cheesy flick Bride of the Monster. But that is not where Legosi got his start. He is famous for playing the original Count Dracula in the 1931 film.
Born and raised in Hungary, Bela Blasko served in the Austro Hungarian Army in the First World War. He fled the country after the failed Hungarian Communist Revolution in 1919. In the Weimar Republic of Germany, Bela made several films. Bela sailed to America as a sea merchant in 1920, entering the country at New Orleans. Three months later he was processed at Ellis Island. In 1927, Bela played Count Dracula in the Broadway adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel.
In the 1930's, paired with actor Boris Karloff, Bela, now Bela Lugosi after his hometown of Lugos, Hungary, starred in The Black Cat, The Raven and Son of Frankenstein. Bela tried to break stereotype by auditioning for the role of Rasputin; he lost out to Lionel Barrymore. In the meantime, Bela became addicted to morphine to treat his sciatic neuritis, which hampered his career even more. One of the few parts he got by the 1950's was in the low budget Ed Wood film Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Never able to overcome his morphine addiction, Lugosi's health rapidly deteriorated. He died of a heart attack in 1956 and was buried in his Dracula cape.
The poor special effects of Plan 9 From Outer Space courtesy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plan_9_from_Outer_Space.