Hungarian-born actor Bela Lugosi helped usher in a golden age of horror films and rode the wave for as long as he could. He arrived in Los Angeles by way of New York, where he picked up enough English to get roles (small ones) onstage.
His biggest break came in a stage production of Dracula, where his accent and general Hungarianness worked in his favor, and he was later tapped to play the blood-sucking count in Tod Browning's 1931 Dracula film. Lugosi, like so many actors, came to Los Angeles to make it big, but the path to his now legendary status was tumultuous and ultimately tragic.
What came after Lugosi's brief success as Dracula was a decades-long ebb and flow of interest in his acting skills. Lugosi wanted roles other than scary vampires, or scary vampire-like characters, but he also always needed money, and was often obliged to take whatever part he was offered. (The biography The Immortal Count: The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi and other sources suggest that Lugosi's money troubles were well-known in Hollywood and, because it was known he'd come cheap, he was chronically underpaid.) As a result of these money troubles, and sometimes as a cause of them, Lugosi famously moved all over town, living in a handful of houses and apartments across the city.
Below is a guide to many of the Los Angeles locations where Lugosi worked, played, lived, and suffered.
- Lugosi: His Life in Films, on Stage, and in the Hearts of Horror Lovers by Gary Don Rhoades
- The Immortal Count: The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi by Arthur Lenning