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Bela Lugosi in 'Dracula.'
Bela Lugosi in 'Dracula.'
Wikimedia Commons

Touring Bela Lugosi's Los Angeles haunts and hangouts

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Bela Lugosi in 'Dracula.'
| Wikimedia Commons

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.

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Biltmore Theater

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The stage production of Dracula, fresh off Broadway in New York, opened here in 1928, with Lugosi as Dracula. (A second production followed in 1929, this time at the Music Box Theater.) He got rave reviews and, through the play's success and multiple runs, caught the eye of MGM director Tod Browning, who would go on to direct Lugosi in the film version of Dracula. The Biltmore Theater was demolished in 1964. Image via Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Ambassador Hotel

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While Lugosi was playing Dracula in stage productions, he lived at the Ambassador Hotel. During the time that he was in residence there, he reportedly made good use of its many luxurious amenities, like "a golf course, tennis courts, and a swimming pool with a real sand 'beach.'" The massive hotel was demolished in 2005 to make way for a massive school complex. Image via Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Hollywood Athletic Club

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When he signed his contract with Universal Pictures and received the final script for the film version of Dracula, Lugosi was calling the architecturally exciting Hollywood Athletic Club home. The 1924 building was built by Grauman's Chinese Theater architects Meyer & Holler. Today it's an event space and filming location. [Image via

2227 Outpost Drive

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According to the book The Immortal Count, Lugosi bought this house in the high-end Outpost Estates subdivision in 1935 for $30,000, during a time when he was rolling high, financially. Here Lugosi had a "swimming pool, guesthouse, servants, and a yard where his beloved dogs could run." The house was built as a model home by the developer of Outpost Estates, Charles E. Toberman, and was "immediately purchased" by Lugosi. It was said to be made of "all steel" and, as such, was fire-proof, termite-proof, and earthquake-proof. The estate was so nice, Toberman later lived there himself.

2835 Westshire

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According to Lugosi: His Life in Films, on Stage, and in the Hearts of Horror Lovers, Lugosi and his wife Lillian moved into this Beachwood Canyon house soon after he appeared in the 1934 film The Black Cat, though other sources say he lived here from 1936 to 1937. Lugosi moved around a lot, so it's hard to keep track, but this house has done a really good job of trumping up its Dracula history. It sold in December 2014 for $3.775 million.

Hollywood Sign

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Lugosi's "greatest enjoyment" in his peak years were the "nature hikes" he'd take up to the Hollywood Sign (then the Hollywoodland sign) or to the Mullholland Dam. His fourth wife, Lillian, is quoted in The Immortal Count describing their routine: Lugosi would hike up to the sign while she'd wait in the car with their Great Danes. When he would give her a signal, she'd let the dogs loose "so they could run up to him," and then she'd bring up the rear. Image via Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

3714 Lankershim Boulevard

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In 1937, Lugosi's fortunes had turned and not for the better. He was hurting for cash, the bank was about to take his house, and his wife Lillian was pregnant. In the end, the bank repossessed the house and he and Lillian moved to this one on Lankershim Drive. (A pretty nice place for a broke guy.) They were still living there by most accounts in 1938, when his son, Bela Lugosi Jr., was born. According to The Immortal Count, money was so short, Lugosi couldn't even pay the hospital bills, and had to apply to the Motion Picture Relief Fund for help.

10841 Whipple Street

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Lugosi's house here was reportedly his favorite of the many places he lived. It's since been replaced by a collection of apartments.

Metropolitan State Hospital

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In April 1955, Lugosi, divorced from Lillian and ravaged by a drug habit (morphine, methadone), checked himself into the "psychopathic" ward at Los Angeles General Hospital. He ended up being sent to the Metropolitan State Hospital for rehab, and there he stayed until early August of that same year. Less than a month after his release, he "married his fifth wife, an obsessed fan who reportedly sent him a letter every day he was in the hospital." Image via Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

5620 Harold Way

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Lugosi, married for a fifth time, moved into an apartment here sometime after getting out of the state hospital on August 5, 1955. A year had barely passed when he died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956.

Holy Cross Cemetery

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Bela Lugosi's final real estate is here, at the Holy Cross Cemetery. He was supposedly buried in his Dracula costume. Image via IllaZilla

Biltmore Theater

The stage production of Dracula, fresh off Broadway in New York, opened here in 1928, with Lugosi as Dracula. (A second production followed in 1929, this time at the Music Box Theater.) He got rave reviews and, through the play's success and multiple runs, caught the eye of MGM director Tod Browning, who would go on to direct Lugosi in the film version of Dracula. The Biltmore Theater was demolished in 1964. Image via Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Ambassador Hotel

While Lugosi was playing Dracula in stage productions, he lived at the Ambassador Hotel. During the time that he was in residence there, he reportedly made good use of its many luxurious amenities, like "a golf course, tennis courts, and a swimming pool with a real sand 'beach.'" The massive hotel was demolished in 2005 to make way for a massive school complex. Image via Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Hollywood Athletic Club

When he signed his contract with Universal Pictures and received the final script for the film version of Dracula, Lugosi was calling the architecturally exciting Hollywood Athletic Club home. The 1924 building was built by Grauman's Chinese Theater architects Meyer & Holler. Today it's an event space and filming location. [Image via

2227 Outpost Drive

According to the book The Immortal Count, Lugosi bought this house in the high-end Outpost Estates subdivision in 1935 for $30,000, during a time when he was rolling high, financially. Here Lugosi had a "swimming pool, guesthouse, servants, and a yard where his beloved dogs could run." The house was built as a model home by the developer of Outpost Estates, Charles E. Toberman, and was "immediately purchased" by Lugosi. It was said to be made of "all steel" and, as such, was fire-proof, termite-proof, and earthquake-proof. The estate was so nice, Toberman later lived there himself.

2835 Westshire

According to Lugosi: His Life in Films, on Stage, and in the Hearts of Horror Lovers, Lugosi and his wife Lillian moved into this Beachwood Canyon house soon after he appeared in the 1934 film The Black Cat, though other sources say he lived here from 1936 to 1937. Lugosi moved around a lot, so it's hard to keep track, but this house has done a really good job of trumping up its Dracula history. It sold in December 2014 for $3.775 million.

Hollywood Sign

Lugosi's "greatest enjoyment" in his peak years were the "nature hikes" he'd take up to the Hollywood Sign (then the Hollywoodland sign) or to the Mullholland Dam. His fourth wife, Lillian, is quoted in The Immortal Count describing their routine: Lugosi would hike up to the sign while she'd wait in the car with their Great Danes. When he would give her a signal, she'd let the dogs loose "so they could run up to him," and then she'd bring up the rear. Image via Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

3714 Lankershim Boulevard

In 1937, Lugosi's fortunes had turned and not for the better. He was hurting for cash, the bank was about to take his house, and his wife Lillian was pregnant. In the end, the bank repossessed the house and he and Lillian moved to this one on Lankershim Drive. (A pretty nice place for a broke guy.) They were still living there by most accounts in 1938, when his son, Bela Lugosi Jr., was born. According to The Immortal Count, money was so short, Lugosi couldn't even pay the hospital bills, and had to apply to the Motion Picture Relief Fund for help.

10841 Whipple Street

Lugosi's house here was reportedly his favorite of the many places he lived. It's since been replaced by a collection of apartments.

Metropolitan State Hospital

In April 1955, Lugosi, divorced from Lillian and ravaged by a drug habit (morphine, methadone), checked himself into the "psychopathic" ward at Los Angeles General Hospital. He ended up being sent to the Metropolitan State Hospital for rehab, and there he stayed until early August of that same year. Less than a month after his release, he "married his fifth wife, an obsessed fan who reportedly sent him a letter every day he was in the hospital." Image via Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

5620 Harold Way

Lugosi, married for a fifth time, moved into an apartment here sometime after getting out of the state hospital on August 5, 1955. A year had barely passed when he died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956.

Holy Cross Cemetery

Bela Lugosi's final real estate is here, at the Holy Cross Cemetery. He was supposedly buried in his Dracula costume. Image via IllaZilla