Bela Lugosi On The Stage
This page encompasses not only Bela’s roles on the legitimate stage, but also his vaudeville, spook show, and personal appearances. Where available, credits, posters, programmes, photographs, press items and reviews are included. This is an incomplete, but ever-growing archive.
Kurucz Feja David (Stubborn King David)
A program for the National Actors Company production of Kurucz Feja David (Stubborn King David) featuring Bela in the role of Carafia Antonio, fogeneralis.
The Firebrand by Herman Heyersnan premiered on February 13 in Debrecen with a cast which included Gyula Zilahy and Bela Lugosi
The Appollo Theatre, Budapest
Bela delivered a speech detailing problems faced by the Hungarian artistic community.
The Appollo Theatre, Budapest
Bela appeared at the theatre to take part in a march protesting the prolems he highlighted in the speech he delivered three days earlier.
Thirty-Ninth Street Theatre, New York
The Evening Telegram, February 19, 1921
The Modern Hungarian Stage, a company organized to present recent plays in that tongue and under the direction of Laszlo Schwartz, will give a performance of a comedy by Gabor Dregely entitled “Almost Married” at the Thirty-Ninth Street Theatre tomorrow evening. The entertainment is for the benefit of the Hoover Fund for Suffering Hungarian Children. The principal players will be Miss Ilma de Montagh, who is making her first appearance in this country, Mr. Bela Lugosi, Lajos Horbath and Miss Cornella Lorine.
(Note: Miss Ilma de Montagh was actually Ilona Von Montagh, who would marry Bela in September, 1921)
Az Ember Tragédiája (The tragedy of Man)
The Red Poppy
The Apollo Theatre, Atlantic City
The New York Times, December 3, 1922
GOSSIP OF THE RIALTO
December 4 – 5
Orpheum Theater, Harrisburg
Harrisburg Telegraph, December 1, 1922
ESTELLE WINWOOD IN THE RED POPPY
“The Red Poppy,” the sensational French success, now in its third year in Paris, is the attraction announced for Monday and Tuesday of next week at the Orpheum Theater. From the pen of Andre Picard. the author of “Kiki,” the play deals with life in the Apache quarter of Paris and tells a story that for heart, interest and thrills surpasses anything seen since the days of “The Sporting Duchess” and “The Great Diamond Robbery.” With a Metropolitan cast of 50 selected players, “The Red Poppy” bids fair to create the sensation that “Kiki” has done, although there is no similarity in the two plays. The leading role will be portrayed by Estelle Winwood, who has just closed as the star of “The Rubicon.” Bela Lugosi, a Hungarian actor who is making his first appearance in this country, will play the leading male role. Scenically the production is most pretentious, particularly the second act set of the Apache quarter in Paris.
New York Clipper, December 13 1922
Greenwich Village Theater, New York
New York Tribune, December 18, 1922
‘The Red Poppy’ Opens Tuesday
Estelle Winwood will be starred by Henry Baron in “The Red Poppy,” a French comedy, which opens at the Greenwich Village Theater to-morrow night. The play is by Andre Picard, author of “Kiki.”
The Evening World, December 20, 1922
New York Tribune, December 20, 1922
The Stage Door
“The Red Poppy,” with Estelle Winwood in the leading role, opens to-night at the Greenwich Village Theater.
New York Tribune, December 21, 1922
The Theaters – By Percy Hammond
Miss Estelle Winwood Is Satisfactory Even if “The Red Poppy” Is a Triffle Otherwise
“The Red Poppy,” a play by Andre Picard and Francis Carco, presented by Miss Estelle Winwood, under the direction of Henry Baron, at the Greenwich Village Theater. The Cast:
Prince Sergius Saratoff…… Arthur Metcalf
De Croy………………………….Leon Gordon
Jean……………………………… J.J. Greer
Liane………………………………Betty Ross Clarke
Mne. Vali…………………………Grace Griswold
Dudule……………………………..George A. Lawrence
Madame Boule…………………..Clara T. Bracy
Babe Rose…………………………William Paul
Madame Sorel……………………Lorna Elliot
Sorel………………………………..John H. Brewer
Fernando…………………………..Mr. Bela Lugosi
A lady………………………………..Grace Gordon
Another lady………………………Ruby Gordon
A gentleman……………………….Ray McKay
A tough……………………………..Paul Broderick
Another tough……………………Hubbard Kirkpatrick
Sergeant de Ville………………..J.J. Greer
An accordion player……………Rozario Bogina
MISS WINWOOD is very interesting in “The Red Poppy,” which is a little more than may be said for the play itself. Few actresses can impersonate advanced women so well as she does, and in “The Red Poppy” her opportunities are extensive. As a Princess of Russia, residing in Paris, she is unconventional by birth. At least she was, before joining the nobility, a slum-wanton, vending herself upon the paves of Montmartre. Therefore, she finds the luxurious existance of the upper classes banal if not altogether irksome. Their “lives are stale, their vices stupid,” and their loves, proper and improper, are not without their insipidities.
Since her husband, Prince Sergius, is a bit flea-like in his devotions to her and to others, a sort of neurosis besets her, and she yearns for the dives and lupanars of her merry girlhood. There, she recalls, is where men are men – savage, snarling fellows, who treat their women roughly. She longs for cavernous Apache eyes to glare at her again as in her old cafe days, and to be slapped in the face with a red rose. To be flung upon the floor and cursed while dancing. To kiss a soiled pickpocket full upon his evil mouth, and to regard that caress as heavenly.
These rememberances and longings summon the Princess and us in the second act to the Red Poppy, a social rendezvous for the vile and the nefarious. There she meets Spanish Fernando, a worthy cutthroat, wearing a scarlet sash and an air of mystery. They get each into the other’s blood and become all aflame with contacts both fond and brutal. Played as he is by Mr. Bela Lugosi, of the National Theater, Budapest, Fernando submits, we suspect, few reasons for the Princess’ feverish deportment. A tall, sallow, lugubrious and earnest person, with luscious eyes and an accent, he strove last night to please. But we thought him the least likely of all the other criminals present to inspire desperate behaviour in the breast of this or any other naughty Princess.
“The Red Poppy” thus proceeds from drawing room to dive and back again, an eventful if not a convincing melodrama. Miss Winwood is coldly patrician as the minor Princess, and hotly gamine as the gutter-girl. She undresses herself enthusiastically in the first act – a detail which we report either as a deterrent from attendance or a lure. We like Miss Clarke’s impersonation of the wondering ingenue whose hair is mussed up in a taxicab by a bad boy from the Rue Pigalle; but that may be because she is so good looking and so intelligently unaffected. Mr. Leon Gordon, as the Parisian man-about-town, who kills the noble Apache in the last act, plays accurately in the manner of the villain in “Our Nell.” “The Red Poppy” is a show for those whon are not too particular of wehom it is said that they are numerous.
New York Tribune, December 27, 1922
The press carried the following notices that The Red Poppy would open at the Nora Bayes Theater on January 8, 1923. Todate, no eveidence has been unearth to show that this actually happened. Records of the Nora Bayes Theater show no productions staged between January 7 to March 11, 1923. According to all current sources, only thirteen performances of the play were given at the Greenwich Village Theater during a ten-day run. Financial problems are said to caused the production to fold when the cast were not paid.
The New York call, January 7, 1923
The New York call, January 7, 1923
The New York call, January 7, 1923
New York newspaper, January 7, 1923
The New York Times, September 12, 1925
Shubert Teck Theatre, Buffalo
The Buffalo Sunday Express, October 4, 1925
Lockport Union-Sun, October 5, 1925
October 20 – November 7
National Theatre, New York
The New York Times, October 9, 1925
New York Evening Post, October 20, 1925
…at the National the corporation with the longest name in town, the Norman Bel Geddes-Richard Herndon Company, will present for public inspection a comedy of Arabian manners called “Arabesque.” It has about a hundred people in the cast and, in deference to its size, the producers are said to have removed, suicidally, several rows of orchestra chairs to make room for it.
They have left enough of the penitential benches, however, to accommodate various persons this evening, and it is said that the invitation list includes Lady Diana Manners, who played the Maddona in Mr. Geddes’ sets for “The Miracle,” and Dr. Rudolf Kommer, Max Reinhardt’s representative here. Out of deference to Bela Lugosi, a Hungarian actor who will play the steam-heated sheik in the production, several members of the Hungarian delegation to the Interparliamentary Conference, in session here, will attend. They include, in spite of the obvious difficulties in setting them down, Dr. Lucas, Dr. Gratz and Dr. Sgterenyl.
1927 – 1928
Edward Van Sloan and Bela Lugosi
September 19 – 21
Sam Shubert’s Theatre, New Haven, Connecticut
September 22 – 24
Parson’s Theatre, Hartford, Connecticut
September 26 – 27
Lyceum Theatre, New London, Connecticut
September 28 – 29
Stamford Theatre, Stamford, Connecticut
October 5 , 1927 – May 19, 1928
Fulton Theatre, Broadway, New York
New York Times, September 28, 1927
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 29, 1927
Programme for the week beginning October 10, 1927
The Westfield Leader, November 2, 1927
Programme for the week beginning November 21, 1927
Programme for the week beginning January 30th, 1928
Programme for the performance on February 1st, 1928
Programme for the performance on April 12th, 1928
In the role of Butterworth during the West Coast tour was Frederick Pymm, an actor who would play Count Dracula in other productions from 1929 until at least 1941.
See our Bela Lugosi Interviews page for interviews with Bela in June and August, 1928 in the LA Times, San Franciso Call and San Francisco Examiner.
June 24 – August 18
Biltmore Theatre, Los Angeles
August 20 – September 8
The Columbia Theatre, San Francisco
Columbia Theatre Playbill
September 9 – 15
12th Street Theatre, Oakland, California
Read interviews with Bela Lugosi during Dracula’s 1928/1929 West Coat run on our Bela Lugosi Interviews page.
May 19 – June 9
Music Box Theatre, Los Angeles
June 13 – 15
Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara, California
Nile Theatre, Bakersfield, California
The Bakersfield Californian, June 15, 1929
July 22 – August 10
The Columbia Theatre, San Francisco
San Francisco Newspaper, July 21, 1929
San Francisco Examiner, July 22, 1929
‘DRACULA’ AT THE COLUMBIA
Vampire Play To Provide Thrills, Gasps
Return Engagement Brings Popular Stars Back For S.F. Engagement
Thrills, shudders and gasps of surprise will be in order beginning this evening when “Dracula” opens at the Columbia on a return engagement.
Virtually the same company is seen in the production as was here last year, with Bela Lugosi, the Hungarian actor, and Hazel Whitmore again in the leading roles.
“Dracula” is taken from the world-famous novel by Bram Stoker and it has made a tremendous success as a play and as contribution to contemporary literature. It is being produced on the Pacific Coast by O.D. Woodward.
The story revives the vampire legend. The superstition that certain people who have lived evil lives become earthbound at death and have power to roam the earth at night preying upon humans from whom they suck their lifeblood, has become the theme of several of the latest tales of fiction.
Lugosi plays the part of the Count Dracula, dead five hundred years, who comes to England to victimize an aristocratic British family. Miss Whitmore is cast in the role of the pretty young daughter in the family who is selected by the villainous count for his evil practices.
The San Francisco Call And Post, July 22, 1929
From the collection of Tracey Allan.
‘Ware the vampire, Bela Lugosi, fearsome figure in “Dracula,” which opens at the Columbia tonight.
‘Don’ts’ for ‘Dracula’; It Opens Tonight
O.D. Woodward, producer of “Dracula,” the shudder play, which opens a return engagement tonight at the Columbia, is considering putting the following list of “don’ts” in the theatre for the more timid ones:
Don’t nudge your neighbour when anything unusual happens.
Don’t get panicky if a patron faints – it happens nightly.
Don’t move in the dark.
Don’t guess out loud.
Don’t call for the nurse until you actually swoon.
Don’t go home alone.
From the collection of Tracey Allan.
August 11 – 24
Fulton Theatre, Oakland, California
Oakland Tribune, August 11, 1929
Fulton Theatre, Oakland, California
The Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California, July 6, 1930
IN THE WORLD OF SCREEN & STAGE
By Wood Soanes
Breakfast occupied a half hour, starting at 9:55 in the Ambassador coffee room whither I had been led by Bela Lugosi, who hungered for food as much as Count Dracula, whom he portrays again at the Fulton today, hungers for blood in the Bram Stoker thriller.
Lugosi had just arrive from Los Angeles where he has been spending his time in the talkies since his last engagement here as the touring star of Dracula. He had come in response to a summons from George Ebey, who felt that Oakland might like to while away the dog days with an honest chill or two.
“You’re a native of Hungary, is it not?” I asked in my best continental manner as Lugosi crunched up a pair of cereal biscuits in his hand as a start on the breakfast.
“It is so,” responded the genial Lugosi, who is only sinister when he dons the bat-cape of the vampire count
“Now, about your first name?” I pursued relentlessly, dropping a spoonful of marmalade on the table cloth, utterly destroying its pristine loveliness. “What is the English equivalent of your first name?”
“Bela?” He parried. “Must you know?”
“It might help.” I admitted. “So far we’ve simply been taking on food. After all, I’m supposed to take back some burning message to my well known and rapidly shrinking public.”
“Bela,” he began sadly, “if translated into your English would be Adelbert.”
“Adelbert,” I repeated in a small voice, “Adelbert Lugosi. You never could play Dracula as Adelbert.”
“I suppose not,” agreed Lugosi, starting to destroy a large quantity of fresh figs. “However, they might call me Bert. I’ve been called worse.”
“You’d better leave it at Bela,” I suggested. “Bela is a mysterious sort of name and seems to fit the part.”
From that the conversation veered to the history of the play and Lugosi’s part in its American presentation.
He had the distinction of being selected from a group of 27 standard featured players in New York for the original Horace Liveright production. Since that time he has appeared as Count Dracula nearly 1,000 times with three leading women in his support.
“It is a peculiar role in many respects,” Lugosi explained. “When you see the play Dracula seems to be constantly on the stage. A casual glance would indicate that he speaks as many lines as Hamlet. Yet, as a matter of fact, the number of ‘sides’ is small. The professor really has a great many more.”
“But, if Count Dracula is not particularly chatty, he presents other difficulties. I find that it requires time and meditation to catch the mood of the character; each performance must be approached with some care. The result is that one doesn’t weary of the part.”
“I am looking forward to the screen production which is being planned by Universal. As you know, Dracula represents but a small portion of the story as outlined in the Bram Stoker novel. There is one scene in particular that cannot be presented on the stage but would be most effective on the screen.”
“I refer to that episode describing Dracula’s voyage by sea to England. He starts on a vessel containing a full complement of sailors. Each night the vampire, in order to retain his earthly form, must drink the blood of one human. Each morning there is a dead sailor. Finally the vessel comes within view of the coast of England. One sailor remains and Dracula takes his hideous toll.”
“As the vessel comes onto the rock bound coast Dracula is at the wheel of the charnel vessel but the countryside has been aroused. The Britons are awaiting him, prepared to drive the stake through his heart that will stop him from further walking on the earth. Dracula runs the ship on the rocks, wrecks it and turns himself into a wolf. As they shoot at him, he changes to a bat, flies away and escapes. It should make a most stirring picture.”
Union Labor Benefit League Show
Hollywood News, December 3rd
Cutting from Bela’s personal scrapbook
According to the play’s publicity material, Bela was commissioned to sculpt a bust of himself for use in Murdered Alive.
The Arcadia Tribune, March 25, 1932
April 2 will see the production of “Murdered Alive,” which is billed as a thriller. Bela Lugosi of “Dracula” fame will head the cast, among other players being Betty Ross Clarke, Rodney McLennan, Pat Flannagan and Eily Malyon.
The Arcadia Tribune, April 8, 1932
Those who enjoy blood curdling dramas are flocking to the Carthay Circle to see “Murdered Alive,” in which Bela Lugosi plays the leading role. Lugosi is known locally as the man who played the role of Dracula so successfully, and he is providing plenty of thrills and chills at the Cathay Circle.
Betty Ross Clarke and Rodney McLennan are in the supporting cast of what is said to be the season’s outstanding Broadway thriller.
Bela Lugosi did a laugh-clown-laugh stunt at the Carthay Circle theater the other night. He tripped back stage, fell and broke three ribs, but went on with his performance of “Murdered Alive.” He probably felt just that way.
Rochester Evening Journal, Apr 19, 1932
Rod Le Rocque and Douglas Fairbanks Jr,. with groups of friends (all men) attending the current thriller “Murdered Alive.”
April 22 – 28
Orpheum Theater, San Francisco
April 30 – May 5
Orpheum Theater, Los Angeles
May 29 – June 5
El Capitan Theatre, Portland, Oregon
Murder At The Vanities
Ottawa Citizen, July 25, 1933
IN NEW YORK
By PAUL HARRISON
Theater seers predict an outbreak of mystery plays for the autumn. Even Earl Carroll is planning to mix melodrama and pulchritude in his next revue, which will be called ‘Murder at the Vanities.”
The New York Times, August 20th, 1933
“Murder at the Vanities,” with or without a bow to the scenic artists’ union, is expected to begin a preliminary engagement in Philadelphia next week before arriving at the New Amsterdam sometime in September. Basically, “Murder at the Vanities” is a mystery play, but the authors, Rufus King and Mr. Carroll, have embellished it with – well, the “Vanities.” The songs have been supplied by John W. Green, Edward Heyman and Herman Hupfield. Players in the company will include James Rennie, Olga Baclanova, Bela Lugosi, Ben Lackland, Jean Adair, Billy House and Naomi Ray.
September 8 – November (?)
The New Amsterdam Theatre, New York
The New York Times, Nov 12 1933
An eighteen-minute capsule version of Dracula
New York Evening Post, November, 1933
The vaudeville booking department of the Loew circuit has announced that Gregory Ratoff and Bela Lugosi have been engaged for vaudeville appearances. Ratoff will open at the State Theatre on Broadway, Friday, December 1.
Loew’s State Theatre, New York
Publicity photograph used to promote Bela’s appearances at Loew’s State Theatre
New York Evening Post, December, 1933
Bela Lugosi at Loew’s State
Bela Lugosi will appear in person at the Loew’s State Theatre, Starting Friday, in a scene from “Dracula.” Included in the surrounding program are Alex Hyde and his “musical charmers,” with Ruth Burns, Lois Sterner and Lucille Kemp; Al Wohlman and Harry Carroll, songsters; Lew Parker and Company, with Paul Murdock, George Townes, Marion bailer and Bill Burdee, and the Gay Boys, acrobats. The screen feature for the week is “The World Changes.”
The New York Times, December 6, 1933
Bela Lugosi will head the vaudeville bill at Loew’s State Theatre beginning Friday. Alex Hyde, accompanied by Ruth Burns, Lois Sterner and Lucille Kemp; Al Wohlmann and Harry Carroll, Lew Parker and company and the Gay Boys will complete the bill.
Daily Motion Picture Friday, December 8, 1933
Bela Lugosi heads Loew’s State stage show starting today.
The New York Times, December 9, 1933
NEW VAUDEVILLE BILLS
Lugosi Tops List at Loew’s State
Bela Lugosi, late of the films and of “Murder at the Vanities,” is the headline vaudeville performer at Loew’s State Theatre this week. He is showing, in a condensed form, his role “Dracula.” Also on the State’s bill are Alex Hyde and his band, Lew Parker & Co., Al Wohlman and the Gay Boys.
December 16 – 19
Loew’s Stanlet, Baltimore
December 22 – 28
Loew’s Fox Theatre, Washington D.C.
Screen Actors Guild Ball
February 22, 1936
A copy of the programme autographed by many of the attendees, including Bela
The Fifty-Fifth Annual Benefit on behalf of the Actor’s’ Fund of America
The Pan-Pacific Auditorium, Hollywood, Wednesday, July 1 at 8:30PM
Billed as “The Cavalcade of the Show World”, the show featured performances from a host of stars, including Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert performing a scene from It Happened One Night. Bela and Rochelle Hudson performed a scene from Dracula.
Unknown newspaper June 16th/17th, 1936
Daniel Frohman, 83-year-old dean of the American stage, comes to Hollywood to supervise the production of the 55th annual Actors Fund Benefit, staged by the Actors Fund of America of which Frohman is president. It will be staged July 1 at the Pan-Pacific auditorium in Los Angeles. Photo shows, left to right, some of the famous movie folk who meet him on his arrival. Front row: Minna Gombel, Dolores Costello Barrymore, Daniel Frohman, Ralph Morgan, and Anita Louise, who arrived from New on the same train. Back row: Leo Carillo and Edward Arnold and Bela Lugosi. The dog is “Buck”, famous canine actor. (image © Bettmann/CORBIS)
Curran Theatre, San Francisco, March 22 – April 17
Biltmore Theater, Los Angeles, April 19 – May 15
The San Francisco Call-Bulletin, April 3, 1937
SO LONG, DRACULA – NICE TO HAVE MET YOU!
Dracula would reform quickly enough if only they’d let him.
I had it straight from his stage and screen counterpart, Bela Lugosi, after he had stolen into this department yesterday without his usual “Boo!” (If he had his way he’d never scare any more little children, either.
In the interest of less horror on the screen—England helped some with its movie ban of a year ago—Dracula is now occupying himself on the Curran stage as Russian Commissar Gorotochenko in Tovarich, his first straight role in years. If, meanwhile, they do decide to resume things horrific in Hollywood, they’ll have to wait—or “get another boy.”
“It’s about time the film producers were shown I can play roles like this in Tovarich, or those I did for 20 years before coming to Hollywood,” proclaimed the tall Hungarian, with a stroke of his stage Van Dyke.
Why Won’t They Let Me Be Human?
“I wouldn’t expect them to remember I played a Spanish lover in The Red Poppy in New York 15 years ago, or everything from Hamlet to Liliom in Budapest…comedy, tragedy, tragic-comedy—everything old Polonius named.
“But perhaps after Tovarich, they’ll call me for something half-way civilized—no Draculas, White Zombies, Chandus or Mysterious Mr.Wongs, I hope.”
Any future call for a human sort of role will find Mr. Lugosi ensconced in his Hollywood hill fortress of steel and concrete, as if fortified against one of his own scientific menaces. He is, in private life, unterrifying—a kindly husband, a kindly master of seven blooded canines, an art connoisseur.
“And please,” he pleaded, “don’t let people thing that because I’m playing a Russian Communist in Tovarich, I might still be a horror type. Gorotochenko is at least a hero to his own kind. But personally, I’m an individualist.”
The San Francisco News, April 5, 1937
THOSE GOROTCHENKO WHISKERS ON BELA LUGOSI ARE GENUINE
Actor Who Has Made Record as Dracula Now Seeks to Show Movies He is Dramatic Possibility Through Work in Jacques Deval-Robert Sherwood Comedy
by Claude A. LaBelle
In Tovarich, the smash comedy at the Curran, Bela Lugosi wears some very snappy whiskers. I took it that “zits” or “beavers” were the usual chinpiece tucked on with spirit gum before every performance, and ripped off, with cussing on the side, after the show. By calling on Bela Lugosi at the hotel, I found out that they were simon pure. You see, I had momentarily forgotten that Hollywood leaves its mark on one, and down there, when the role calls for whiskers, the actor “grows a bush.” The camera detects crepe beards and artificial beards to easily. “Yes, it is so much more authentic,” he told me. “I do not have to be a matinee idol, and so I can wear whiskers if I wish.”
Mr. Lugosi’s English is fluent and his vocabulary extensive. He was years learning the groundwork of his English, then for five years he avoided his countrymen as an oil magnate avoids a process server.
“Some of my confreres thought I had gone high hat, or something, but it was necessary that I hear no word of Hungarian spoken if I was to be able to talk English fluently.”
When he perfected his English, he was cast for various roles in American plays, finally achieving national frame as Dracula. This also took him into the movies.
“But now horror pictures are definitely out, and I must do something else, and since Hollywood has me typed as a horror actor, I am pleased beyond measure to have the rich part of Gorotchenko in this play. It is a dramatic part, and I did such parts before Dracula was heard of as a play.”
Personal appearances at the Regina-Wilshire Theatre thru August
Daily Variety, August 20, 1938
Courtesy of http://belathenomadyears.blogspot.com/
Screen Actors Guild Meeting
September 3, 1939
The American Legion Stadium, Los Angeles
The Leader-Republican, September 5, 1939
Ed Sullivan, Arthur Treacher, Marjorie Weaver, Betty Jaymes and Bela Lugosi
(image courtesy of www.belalugosifansite.com)
April 4 – 11
Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Pittsburgh Press, April 5, 1940
The Pittsburgh Press, April 6, 1940
Broadway-wise Ed Sullivan knows that audiences want real entertainment in their stage shows, whether the performers be Hollywood “names” or Major Bowes amateurs; hence, it is not surprising that the well-known columnist rounded up some film folks who could do something besides photograph well for his traveling troupe.
The Sullivan company is at the Stanley this week to bring back the in-person shows and every member of the group takes an active part in providing a good program. Ed presides as master-of-ceremonies in professional fashion and has lots of fun with a film showing “Famous Firsts.” This bunch of clips from the “good old days” of the movies is packed with laughs, though many of the scenes originally were intended to be highly dramatic.
“Peg-Leg” Bates, the gay colored dancer, steals the show. Bates isn’t new to vaudeville patrons but his grand dancing is always a treat. Bates proves that even the loss of a leg can’t block the path to success for a fellow who is made of the right stuff. Added to his fancy stepping is some funny chatter and you’ll forget all about his handicap in your desire to applaud his talent.
Douglas McPhail and Betty Jaynes, well-known young singing stars of the movie lots help out with some good songs. The handsome Doug and the attractive Betty are Mr. and Mrs. in real life. Betty kept the tradition of show business yesterday when she insisted on taking part in the show despite a sprained ankle which was taped tightly and pained her much.
Arthur Treacher, than whom there is no finer “gentleman’s gentleman” in the films, gets a major part of the comedy lines. The gags are good and Arthur knows how to handle them. Bela Lugosi keeps his famous horror characterizations in a comedy vein and wins his share of the laughs.
Majorie Weaver, another of the starlets, has a magnetic personality which projects out over the footlights and Shepherd Sullivan has supplied her with material which she handles capably. Miss Weaver should do all right as a comedienne on the screen. Helen Parrish, another lovely ingenue, takes part in the frolic while Vivian Fry looks after dancing duties in expert fashion.
With four gals as pretty as these who actually can do something, Doug McPhail to sing, Bela Lugosi to burlesque his hair-raising screen roles and Arthur Treacher to juggle gags in sure-fire fashion, Columnist Sullivan can’t miss. His show ranks “tops” among those presented by the various Hollywood scribbler-turned-vaudebillians who have stopped in town.
Arthur Treacher, Bela and Ed Sullivan
(My thanks to Gregg Pasterick for correctly identifying this photograph.)
Stanley Theater, Hartford, Connecticut
A photo of a younger Bela was used to publicize his participation in the Stardust Cavalcade
The State Theater, New York
Bela Lugosi and Marjorie Weaver plugging the Stardust Cavalcade at The Hurricane Club in New York
A letter Bela Lugosi sent to Jack Miller, arranging to meet at the State Theater on Sunday, April 21
April 26-May 2
Capitol Theater, Washington D.C.
One Night of Horror
Orpheum Theatre. Waterloo
The Daily Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, April 30, 1941
LUGOSI PRACTICES HORROR FACE
He might be a horror man to the movie public, but to his son he’s just “Daddy,” and to the neighborhood kids he’s the man who makes the funny faces.
He’s Bela Lugosi, Hollywood’s horror man who gained fame ’way back in 1927 on Broadway with his characterization of Dracula. In Waterloo, he is playing in the stage play, “One Night of Horror,” at the Orpheum theatre.
Bela likes babies, drinks milk, collects stamps and is good to his wife, only “putting on” his mysterious expressions for the public—and his pay check, which isn’t small.
“It’s no harder to play a horror part than a romantic lead,” Lugosi declares, “It’s just another mood created by the same effort.”
His son, Bela, Jr., 3. In Hollywood, doesn’t take him seriously. “Daddy’s just acting,” the little fellow says.
On stage, or in the movies, the horror man shuns makeup, creates his character by facial expression only, wearing no masks.
Lugosi was born in Lugos, Hungary, and came to the United States when he was 32 years old. Since 1912 he has been making pictures in Hollywood, but started his horror films in 1931.
Oriental Theatre, Chicago
Daily Times, Chicago, Illinois, May 2, 1941
Doris Arden Says:
BELA ’S PET SHOWS HOW TO BREAK UP PARTY
How to make friends and influence movie-critics, or how to break up a party:
The formula (which we learned just the other afternoon and are reporting here in case some of you have trouble persuading your guests to go home) is a novel one, and here’s how it’s worked: First, you get hold of Bela Lugosi, the big chills-and-shudder gentleman: then you catch a gorilla: one at a time, you introduce them to your guests—and by that time, everybody that isn’t paralyzed had fled! See how simple it all is?
Mr. Lugosi, who is appearing on both the stage and screen of the Oriental theater this week, was the guest of honor the other afternoon at an eventful little party. It was all very nice, really—with Mr. Lugosi being charming and friendly, instead of frightening (in fact, there wasn’t recognizable leer or grimace or scowl to be seen) and with all the other guests relaxing comfortably while he described himself as a hard-working actor and a home-loving gentlemen who avoided night clubs.
You can see how serene everything was at this point. In fact, we had no idea that at the next moment a gorilla was to come lunging through the door in one tremendous bound—a big handsome specimen of a gorilla that could obviously break iron bars in two, uproot trees or overturn locomotives! Well, that’s how parties are broken up!
The rest of the afternoon, we don’t mind saying, is something of a blur to us—but at least we’ve got Mr. Lugosi’s word for it that he was scared too. So, if you’ve always wondered what it took to make a big horror-man turn pale with fright, now you know.
Mr. Lugosi is starred on the Oriental screen this week in The Invisible Ghost, along with Polly Ann Young and John McGuire—and it’s a picture, he assured us, in which there are plenty of murders. On the stage, he is the star of a revue which titled One Night of Horror, in which it is his job to sneak around and terrify the rest of the cast.
The picture which he has just finished in Hollywood is The Black Cat, another thriller. About five years ago, Mr. Lugosi appeared in a picture with the same title—this one, however, is based on the Edgar Allan Poe tale, and the cast includes Basil Rathbone, Hugh Herbert, Broderick Crawford and Ann Gwynne.
Once we returned to sanity after our frights, we were introduced to Carmen Negri, the gentleman who was perspiring in a gorilla costume and who is Mr. Lugosi’s partner on the Oriental stage this week. Mr. Negri has made a career out of masquerading as a gorilla, first appeared on the screen in the screen in the famed film Ingagi. He proudly displayed his costume which, he said, is equipped with a zipper down the back, made out of bear skins, and rubber which has been molded into a peculiarly realistic and terrifying face.
A REMARKABLE CAREER
Hungarian Player Flies from His Native Land after Political Revolution
Once “a Price” was “on the Head” of Bela Lugosi
He made a hit in a colourful role on the stage—but most of the time he didn’t know what he was saying!
One of the most remarkable feats in the annals of theatricals was accomplished some years ago by Bela Lugosi, the famous Hungarian actor, shortly after he went to the United States, when his political activities had compelled him to flee from his native country with a price on his head.
Appearing as the star of a travelling company presenting plays in the Hungarian language, Lugosi had failed to learn English, but his performance in one of the plays in his repertoire led a New York theatrical manager to approach him with an offer to play a role in The Red Poppy.
Fortunately, the manager could talk German, and in that language Lugosi confessed his inability either to understand or speak a word of English.
“But give me a chance!” he suggested. “Give me a tutor, take his salary out of my future earnings, and by the time you are ready to start rehearsals I will know my part.”
Though he was at first doubtful, the stage director finally agreed to the proposition, and Lugosi at once began an intensive course of study. At such short notice he made no attempt to learn the English language, but under the coaching of his tutor he learned his entire role phonetically, as one might learn the music of a song. He simply memorized and imitated the sounds made by his teacher.
Three months later the company came together for the first rehearsal. The other members of the cat, typewritten parts in hand, either read their speeches or stumbled through them in a halting fashion. But Lugosi was letter-perfect, and gave such a convincing portrayal of his role that the other members of the company gathered around him and began to offer their congratulations.
The embarrassed Hungarian smiled shyly and shook his head. He did not know what they were saying. But when the play opened he played his part with such consummate artistry that Alan Dale, the frankly-vitriolic critic acclaimed him “the greatest actor ever to come to America.”
During the run of The Red Poppy in New York, Lugosi entered the Columbia University and took a course in English, and in 1927, when Dracula was first produced as a stage play, he was engaged to play the title role of Count Dracula.
“DRACULA PROVES VERY NICE PERSON
WHEN HE’S OFF-STAGE
Bela Lugosi Admits He Is Sick of Always Being Introduced as World’s Most Famous Vampire Bat ; to Star in Broadway Play
by Don Craig
Bela Lugosi is a much nicer man off-stage than he is on. He doesn’t growl. He doesn’t wave black capes in your face. He doesn’t ever try to suck blood out of your neck.
Not that you expect such things when you to catch a play. But then you don’t often pay a visit to the most famous theatre “vampire.”
No, the man behind “Dracula” is very likeable and very interesting. As a matter of fact, you’d hardly know he was the same person—except for that accent which he still hasn’t overcome. At least, that was the impression I had by the time I draped myself over the Fox last night. Mr. Lugosi sat down at his dressing table. “Well, what do you want to know,” he asked.
“I want to know whether you are still thrilled over playing ‘Dracula,’” I began.
“No!” Bela announced flatly. (He’s the only artist I ever saw who can talk while removing make-up with getting cold cream in his mouth.) “As a matter of fact, I’m sick of it.”
Having worked myself up into a splendid enthusiasm for the role in question, I looked a little taken back. Bela laughed.
“Suppose you were introduced as a vampire-bat every place you? “I admitted that would be rather disconcerting.” “Well, that’s the way it is with me. It’s gotten so almost nobody but my wife calls me by my right name.”
(Incidentally, Mrs. Lugosi travels with her famous husband on most of his tours. She’s a slight, attractive woman who scurries about the room gathering up Dracula’s robes and hanging them on the walls.)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 14, 1943
On his way East from Hollywood is Bela Lugosi to play once more the diabolical “Dracula” on the stage. He originated the role of the one-man Blood Bank on Broadway some 16 years ago. This time the production will be under the auspices of Harry H. Oshrin and J.J. Leventhal, for whom Mr. Lugosi will tour for a while before reviving the old melodrama in New York.
The Hartford Daily Courant, Hartford, Connecticut, April 25, 1943
LUGOSI OCCUPIES STRANGEST HOUSE
IN FILM CAPITAL
It is singularly appropriate that Bela Lugosi, the most mysterious man in Hollywood’s colony, lives in the cinema capital’s strangest house.
Lugosi heads the distinguished cast which comes to the stage of the Bushnell Memorial on Saturday, May 1 for two performances of the thrilling Bram Stoker drama, Dracula.
The residence owned by Lugosi is entirely hidden by a high fence on a secluded street in North Hollywood. A visitor can gain entrance to the grounds only by stepping into a tiny room which adjoins the auto-gate and telephoning to the house his identity and the details of his errand. Then, if his story is satisfactory, the electric catch on the inner lock clicks and he is free to enter the grounds. Wide driveways sweep up to the house, which is masked by towering trees.
The house itself is a building of many strange architectural angles with portions of the roof almost touching the ground. Part of the exterior is of stucco, while other sections are of natural wood with bark on. Barbeque, garage and other buildings are of similar construction. The roof of the main house rises sharply to a high peak, surmounted by enormous storks standing beside their nests.
Within the house might be the dwelling of “Dracula” himself. Heavy beams are everywhere, and all doors open in upper and lower sections, which are bound with wrought iron and studded with giant spikes. The windows are of stained glass and illumination is provided by old-fashioned lanterns, the furniture is made to match, even to the grand piano, all of heavy design.
“I really feel,” said Mr. Lugosi, “that I have a home to match and express my personality, the same as I feel when I play parts that call for very hard and arduous work.”
Klein Auditorium, Bridgeport, Connecticut
The Billboard, May 1, 1943
BRIDGEPORT, Conn., April 24. – Klein Memorial will have Bela Lugosi in Dracula April 30. Claudia, which played here several weeks ago, is rebooked for May 21-22
May 3 – 5
Plymouth Theatre, Boston
The Boston Herald, Boston, Massachusetts, May 2, 1943
BELA LUGOSI, STAR OF DRACULA, IN PERSON
by Bela Lugosi
Having run all the alarming Hollywood fight gamuts from Georgian monsters to baying werewolves, it is certainly rather relieving to find myself back in the role of the relatively innocuous blood-sucking vampire. I have sort of an affection for this role, and since to this day people refer to me as “Dracula” Lugosi, I fell a paternalism towards the character very much akin to that which Frankenstein must certainly have felt for the monster he created.
Ordinarily I am a very pleasant soft-spoken gentleman, I think, affably observing the world from my six foot two inches. I love gypsy music, dogs and Hungarian food, which is natural, I think you will agree. However, I am an avowed Roosevelt disciple and I think without doubt the President is the greatest outstanding personality of the day. I am a firm believer in his ideas and ideals and you can put that down in spades. I really believe this is a propitious time for a revival of Dracula. I think audiences need an emotional release and a certain stimulus which this kind of escapist entertainment provides. Now you take after a session of pure undiluted horror, like this, the public is better equipped to cope with the realities of the day.
It is also interesting to me to see that the treatment of this thriller is now being approached in a very different manner by a new cast of people, some who have never even seen the play. Unlike me, they have no preconceived notions of how the dramas should be projected, and they are all eager to contribute something of their own ideas, which is not bad and at times very interesting, I think.
The Billboard, May 29, 1943
J.J. Leventhal’s production of The Play’s the Thing, starring Lionel Atwill, supported by a good cast, opened at Plymouth Tuesday (18) to warm notices. (Seats, 1,398. Scale: Evenings and Saturday matinee, 55 cents – $1.65; Wednesday and Thursday Matinee, 55 cents – $1.10.) But the cards were stacked and the gross was tepid at $2,800. Final week of Dracula, with Bela Lugosi, ended May 15 with $7,400, a very good showing at the same house. (Scale: Evenings, 55 cents – $2.20; Saturday matinee, 55 cents – $1.10.)
Camp Farmingham, Massachusetts
May 19 – 29
Locust Theatre, Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Record, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 19, 1943
MENACE WITH COLD FEET—THAT’S BELA LUGOSI
by Elsie Finn
Almost simultaneous with news of Dracula’s arrival in town came word of a series of broken shop windows—all belonging to stamp collectors.
Stamps, of course, would have no interest for Dracula, long-established as a vampire whose only greed is for human blood. But what with Red Cross demands and war shortages the demon might well have discovered a substitute—perhaps the glue on stamps.
With neck carefully concealed (vampires always attack the neck) and our best Sherlock Holmes bonnet, we decided to investigate. Dracula is registered at a local hotel as Bela Lugosi.
Instead of the green-skinned, webbed fingered monster we expected, a large, smooth affiable fellow with squint eyes rose to greet us graciously, he reached a pudgy finger for a nicotine-less cigar and we were at once convinced that here was another posy-picking demon, no more ferocious than Boris Frankenstein Karloff.
Our ease was short-lived.
“My feet get very cold,” said Lugosi, stretching his No. 17’s and wriggling them energetically. “No blood,” he smiled, looking right through our neck scarf.
“I have to message them each night,” said Mr. Dracula, a tall handsome young woman also known as Mrs. Lugosi. We noticed a diamond-studded gold bat pinned at the neck of her dress.
Dogs and Buzzers
“We live very quietly and normally,” Lugosi continued, “behind a lovely high fence. No one can enter our grounds unless we buzz a buzzer—and tie up the dogs.”
“We’ve two of them,” added Mrs. L.
“Gentle as kittens,” said her husband, “except to strangers.”
“The storks are gentle, too,” added the wife. “They nest atop our house and only fly into the faces of those Bela dislikes.”
The Lugosis have been married 10 years and are truly happy according to his wife (she’s his fourth and only fellow Hungarian among them all). One of the reasons for their happiness, according to the husband, is the fact that he had never permitted his wife to dance with another man. Nor he dance with other women.
While the actor was relating the story of his life, his wife moved methodically about, putting things at either parallel or right angles as her husband watched approvingly. Suddenly, he jumped up, bowed, kissed our hand, mopped his brow and was gone.
About Those Stamps
“Those stamps!” Sighed Mrs. Lugosi. “Bela needs two more to complete his Hungarian collection. I hope he gets them – – or – -”
“Or what?” We demanded.
“Poor Manley Hall!” She continued (Hall is a Hollywood scenarist). “Manley’s collection is complete. And if Bela doesn’t get those two stamps before we return to Hollywood….”
Fort Mede, Maryland
May 31 – June 5
Erlanger Thatre, Buffalo
The Buffalo Evening News, Buffalo, New York, May 29, 1943
BELA LUGOSI HEADS CAST OF DRACULA
Terrifying audiences was not always Bela Lugosi’s chief means of earning a livelihood. Until creating the vampire role in Dracula on the American stage in 1927, the screen’s most versatile bogeyman had been regarded as a promising romantic lead who ultimately might do notable things with the classics. He leaned toward Shakespeare and Ibsen.
But after a year on the New York stage as the horrible Count Dracula, the public nor this producers would have Mr. Lugosi any other way. He was consigned to a life of stage and screen horror. Since then, he has played everything from Georgian monsters to baying werewolves.
And, except for a brief period around 1936, Mr. Lugosi always found the dispensing of horror a very profitable business. It has enabled him to pamper his love of wolfhounds, rare postage stamps, music, good books and Hungarian food.
In 1936, however, the British Government banned the horror film, and Hollywood soon stopped making them.
“I had been so long associated with horror parts by then,” Mr. Lugosi asserted, “That I rapidly started on the downward skid. I was facing a personal horror called bankruptcy. Ultimately, however, Hollywood relented and resumed making horror pictures. Now, I am solvent again.”
Mr. Lugosi, who enacts his original vampire role in the revived Dracula coming to the Erlanger Monday for a week’s run, considers the play’s monster “relatively innocuous after the gamut of horror men he has run in Hollywood.
“This is a propitious time for a revival of Dracula,” Mr. Lugosi asserted. “I think audiences need the emotional release and stimulus which this kind of escapist entertainment provides.”
June 7 – 13
Hanna Theatre, Cleveland
Programme from the performance on June 13th
The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio, June 2, 1943
DRACULA IS STAMP FIEND OFF THE STAGE
Having run an alarming Hollywood horror gamut from Georgian monsters to baying werewolves, Bela Lugosi is rather relieved to find himself back in the role of the relatively innocuous blood-sucking vampire.
The man whose name has been practically synonymous with all varieties of hair-raising melodramas has an understandable affection for Dracula, which brings him back to the Hanna’s stage tomorrow evening.
His frightening personation of Count Dracula turned Broadway’s footlights on him 18 years ago, inspiring a cycle of graveyard chillers that made him one of the screen’s foremost bogeyman. That is why Lugosi revived his favorite play for this stage tour, which is more or less of a vacation for him.
“I never know what kind of a monster Hollywood will ask me to create next,” said the character actor whose latest film shockers were Bowery at Midnight, Wolf Man, Corpse Vanishes, and Ghost of Frankenstein.
Waited Two Years for Call
Although frightening, fiendish roles brought him a fortune, keeping him busy in the movie mills for 25 years, he likes to recall the days when he portrayed more romantic parts on stages of his native Hungary.
“But I have had my share of bumps,” declared Bela. “For two years I waited for the telephone to ring, but didn’t get one call from the studios when there was a drought of thrillers. You remember when the British Embassy banned horror pictures, and Hollywood ceased producing them in order to retain the English trade.
I suddenly found myself in 1936 a type not in demand. It was a disheartening experience. In the middle of those anxious months our first baby, Bela, Jr., arrived.”
“Just when I was willing to take any sort of roles, a call came from Universal Studios, asking if I was available for a role in Son of Frankenstein. Available? Why I was willing to be at work in 10 minutes. That picture started films about monsters rolling again, and now the war is adding impetus to another cycle of back-chilling melodramas.”
Crazy About Stamps
Off stage, Lugosi is a bland, soft-spoken gentleman, affably observing the world of realism from his height of six feet two inches. His tastes, oddly enough, run to gypsy music, dogs, Hungarian food and stamps. He is an ardent collector of tiny, colored, rare bits of paper, with a Hungarian collection that is almost complete.
Mrs. Lugosi, his fourth wife and the only fellow-Hungarian among them all, travels with him, acting as a buffer and adviser.
As long as horror continues to sell at a premium, it seems safe to assume that Bela’s financial worries are over.
June 14 – 19
Nixon Theatre, Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 5, 1943
The Pittsburgh Press, June 6 , 1943
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Jun 7, 1943
The Pittsburgh Press, June 9, 1943
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Jun 10, 1943
Stage and Screen
“Dracula,” which comes to the Nixon mext week with Bela Lugosi in person, has long been a hardy moneymaker. Horace Liveright, much against the advice of American showmen then in London, decided to purchase the American rights to the play, and it opened at the Fulton Theater, New York City, October 5, 1927, where it ran for almost an entire season. While “Dracula” was a profitable show, it was not one of those $20,000 a week smashes, but did go blithely on its way grossing a good weekly average. It could easily have rounded out a solid year at the Fulton, but its run there was terminated in order to allow the culmembers of the cast to play “Dracula” for O.D. Woodward, to whom the West Coast rights had been leased, and barring the week in travel “Dracula” continued its run in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, the West Coast lessee for some reason or other decided he could improve on the way the play was shown in New York and he changed the story around. As a consequence “Dracula” was not a big success in Los Angeles. However, the coast man then decided he would revert to the original script. He did so and opened the play in San Francisco, where it did well.
“Dracula” opened its road tour in Atlantic City, September 17, 1928. Repeat engagements were tried in two cases (Werba’s Brooklyn Theater, and the Windsor Theater, Bronx, New York), and these repeat grosses came within $500 of the original engagement grosses. In Newark, during Washington’s Birthday week, “Dracula” captured the record of the Broad Street Theater for a non-musical play with $118,000 at $2 top. At the Boulevard Theater, Jackson Heights, Long Island, it did $20,000, which tops the record.
There may be several reasons for the success of “Dracula.” The original Bram Stoker novel has sold 50,000 copies yearly for the past 30 years and the adaptation by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderson, the latter then London correspondent for the old New York “World”, was done painstakingly and carefully.
The Daily Times, Beaver and Rochester, June 11, 1943
“Dracula,” the Vampire play ranked a s one of the most successful mystery plays in the annals of the stage, comes to the Nixon Theatre for one week beginning Monday evening, June 14, at popular prices, matinees Wednesdfay and Saturday.
Direct from Hollywood to play Count Dracula, the arch-fiend whose unearthly desire provide the thrills of the drama, will be the eminent star of stage and screen Bela Lugosi, who originated the part in New York.
Dramatized by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston the play is based on Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name, which has been read by two generations of booklovers. Though it is more than two decades since the book was published, the book has run through numerous editions and still ranks as a big seller.
In this drama of the uncanny and supernatural, Lucy Seward, daughter of the physician in charge of a sanitorium near London, is mysteriously anaemic. Dr. Van Helsing, specialist in obscure diseases suspects a vampire which according to legend is an ugly soul that grave-bound by day, roams the earth at night, and suspects it sustains its earthly life by sucking the blood of the approaching victims. It is with the search for the vampire and the subsequent spine-chilling developments that the play is principally concerned.
In the streamline version of “Dracula” Mr. Lugosi has a fine supporting cast among whom are Frank Jaquet, Charles Franes, Mary Heath, Guy Spaull, Eduard Franz and Len Mence. The play has been staged by IO.D. Woodward.
Bela Lugosi, the star of “Dracula” when World War 1 was over became an official in connection with the Hungarian Goverment’s administration of the Theatre, and when the White Army overthrew the Hungarian Republic created in the revolution that followed the war, he was forced to flee the country as a political refugee. He escaped to Vienna and then, reaching Berlin, worked in pictures in 1919 and 1920 for the Luna Company. From Berlin he went to Italy and worked his way to the United States as an assistant engineer on a freiht boat. Lugosi finally landed in New York, reported to the proper authorities and was allowed to remain in the country. He applied for citizenship papers, which he finally received in 1930.
Not knowing a word of English when he first came to the United States, he joined a Hungarian repertoire company that played towns with large Hungarian populations. They would start in New York with a new play and after touring it they would return for a new production and start all over again.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jun 12, 1943
The Pittsburgh Press, June 13, 1943
A DANGEROUS GENTLEMAN is Bela Lugosi in the title role of “Dracula” this week on the Nixon stage. He’s a “human vampire” who becomes the terror by night in the melodrama.
By KASPAR MONAHAN
For a soothing Sabbath day essay I’m choosing the subject of the vampire, quite pertinebt in view of the fact that the menacing looking gent atop this column is with us this week in a revival of “Dracula.” This essay is intended to be quite scientific – so if you’re of a frivolous turn of mind, then turn to the comic pages, or, perhaps, the Village Smithy – who nearly always is in jocose mood, come war, high water, or even rationed beer. (Well – maybe that’s an exageration as to the last item.)
No doubt – I’m getting into the scientific groove now – you’ve seen a number of the so-called horror movies, those shivery concoctions dealing with various manifestations of supernatural evil. Gents turning into wolves, folks very much dead but traipsing about with staring eyes and making young Hollywood lovlies howl in holy terror, or, as in “Dracula,” those blood-sucking human vampires.
Possibly, you’ve just dismissed these movies as mere fancies conceived in the feverish brain pans of slightly demented studio scribblers. If so, you’re paying these plagiaristic wights an undeserved compliment. Few have that much imagination.
All these yarns are simply variations on age-old superstitions, derived from legends handed down from generation to generation, and rooted in antiquity.
Take the were-wolf, for instance. Our ancestors believed there were such critters. In England and on the Continent in medieval times many poor, half-witted wretches were charged with the crime of turning into wolves on occasion and biting their mother-in-law or devouring their landlords of wintery nights when the moon was ful. If this is not so – then the Encyclopedia Britanica, without which I could never write a scientific treatise of this sort, is a catalogue of pipe dreams.
As to the Zombie, which today is a very expensive and, I might say, an exceedingly atrocious drink, that baby prowls the West Indies, according to the more naive denizens of those islands. You bury him, but he won’t stay put. Undertakers down there must have a trying time of it, and nobody knows how many of them have suffered nervous breakdowns, T’ch!
At this time, however, our breathless interest (no kidding, have you read this far?) is held by the human vampire, in my opinion the most subtle and most fascinating of our weird menagerie of fanciful demons. Whereas, the werewolf is rather uncouth and makes a very devil of a howling nuisance of himself, and the Zombie is an unmannerly roughneck with rudely staring eyes, our vampire wafts gracefully about in the shadows and moves to the attack with the utmost of stealth and with nary a sound. Unlike the Zombie who or which will stalk you down and bat your brains out or crack your neck (he or it has no ring style whatever), the vampire operates with rare delicay.
He doesn’t kill in precipitant and vulgar fashion. He merely slips some of the victim’s blood while said victim is sleeping at night. Then he’ll stroll back to his grave and slumber through the day, to repeat the dainty process the following night and the next night until one day Uncle Steve will remark, “My, how awful pale Yvette is looking lately – the gal ain’t got no more blood nor a Navy bean.”
Uncle Steve, of course is a fathead, not having read a scientific paper, like this. He should know that a vampire, one of the undead, is slowly slaying Yvette – and what’s more that Yvette will turn into a vampire herself if something isn’t done – and quick. And vitamins will help her hardly at all.
Well, the foregoing, if you’re still with me, may give you some idea of what you’ll be witnessing if you attend the Nixon this week. Mr. Bela Lugosi, who has given multitudes of movie fans the heebie-jeebies, is the vampire of the title role. He was a sensation about 15 years ago when I saw him in “Dracula” in Los Angeles – being the major competition in that daffy metropolis for Peter the Hermit, a barefooted tangle-haired old coot wandering the balmy streets, and Aimee Semple McPherson in her long white robe herding the faithful to heavenly bliss. Later he made a movie “Dracula.”
The human vampire has its origin in the folk-tales or bull sessions of peasants centuries ago in the region inhabited by Slavic tribes – the Ukraine, parts of Russia, Poland and Serbia. Some of the Czechs and Hungarians of Slavonic strain also were press agents for the vampires. And, possibly, the folks of Hungary – Mr. Lugosi’s birthplace incidentally (and significantly) – did more publicity for the vampire than any other people. Along about 1730 and for five years thereafter wild-eyed yarns about vampires poured out of Hungary and spread all over Europe – until everybody was suspicious of any neighbor with rosy cheeks or a slight red nose.
Things in time quieted down until the late twenties when “Dracula” came to the footlights. For 65 weeks he scared London and frightened the timid in New York for nearly a year. Berlin in 1929 – not having Hitler for a bogieman, then – was his host for eight months.
Now the old boy is back for another fling at it. All this week he’ll be done in every night and in plain sight of the cash customers. One of the characters will drive a stake through his heart – hooray! Class in demonology now over – so back to you V. Garden, you sluggard.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 14, 1943
Bela Lugosi and “Dracula”…the two are inseperable virtually synonomous, for never has an actor been more indelibly identified with a role, and never has a role so dominated an actor’s private fortunes.
For some 20 years Lugosi played all manner of character and romantic leads, from Shakespeare to Ibsen. Then, in 1929, he created that strange half-human, half-bloodsucking vampire bat character of Bram Stoker’s famous novel. Ever since then “Dracula” has pursued him as relentlessly as he pursued his women victims in the play.
At first the actor was grateful, it made him important and within two years it elevated him to stardom both on stage and screen.
All he did before this was forgotten. He was caught in the inexorable tentacles of an octopus, he became a horror specialist and fit for nothing else. He was “Dracula’s” puppet, the shadowy figure hung over an intolerable situation. As “Dracula,” typifying “horror” pictures, fared, so Lugosi fared, the character made him a screen star, gave him a fine home and the influence that goes with such a position.
England banned horror pictures a few years later; Hollywood followed suit, and off the screen for two years, Lugosi soon went broke.
A small exhibitor a few years later “dared” to try “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” on a twin bill revival and again the “horror thrillers” came back with a bang. Then followed “The Son of Frankenstein,” in which Boris Karloff was starred with Lugosi, to tremendous returns. Since then he has appeared in about 10 more of the same type and is back, to use his own words, “in the chips again.”
On leaave from Hollywood, Lugosi brings his new streamlined version of “Dracula” to the Nixon tonight for a week. He has “imported” some of his supporting cast, among whom are Frank Jaquet, Wallace Widdecombe, Mary Stevenson, Janet Tyler, Len Mence, Guy Spaull and others.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 15, 1943
By Harold V. Cohen
There are revivals, it seems, and revivals. Last week “The Bat” came back to the Nixon and there was the heavy smell of ancient limburger all over the place. This week it’s “Dracula” and the corn’s just as old but a lot greener. For age hasn’t laid such a withered hand on this ancient tale of the one-man Blood Bank and B pictures haven’t completely staled its honorable hokum.
Of course, there’s that unholy horror from Hollywood, Mr. Bela Lugosi, to put the eeee into creeeep, and there’s a young lady in Miss Mary Heath so seductive and lovely you don’t wonder that the King of the Vampires has been content to rest in his tomb for such a vision to come along. Miss Heath, by the way, looks like a debutante edition of Miss Madeleine Carroll, which means that she is very pretty indeed. Mr. Lugosi, on the other hand, doesn’t look anything like Miss Madeleine Carroll, debutante edition or otherwise, and he is not very pretty indeed. However, Mr. Lugosi’s duties in “Dracula” are strictly of the scarehelloutaya variety and in that, it seems needless to remind you, he plays second fiddle to no man, especially bogey.
It’s a right good cast Mr. Harry Oshrin has assembled, by the way, for this “Dracula” although what the doggone package of a graveyard and gruesome would be like without Mr. Lugosi is another thing. Somehow he injects just the right touch of boo, which isn’t surprising since he’s been creeping up and down spines for a considerable number of years and then Miss Heath gives some substance to his werewolf. As a matter of fact, this Miss Heath would not only bring out the werewolves in packs but also any and all other kinds of wolves, up to and including the 1943 version.
Anyway between Mr. Lugosi, who is awfully horrible, and Miss Heath, who is awfully eye-easy, and with the help of several other able actors who are neither as horrible as Mr. Lugosi nor as fetching as Miss Heath, the current “Dracula” isn’t bad at all. Fifteen or sixteen years ago, people used to faint dead away in the aisles when Count Dracula came floating into the room on a broomstick and a puff of smoke, but there should be no fainting dead away today, unless it’s from laughter, although it’s still not quite that funny.
No, there remains yet a few honest moments of the grim and the macabre in “Dracula,” and when Mr. Lugosi, bathed in a green light that makes him look like a long, slimy, crooked hand in the direction of a prospective candidate for his evil eterna, why Mr. Bram Stoker’s old bat-boy actually becomes a modest shudder all over again, or at least a reasonable fascimile thereof. And in this day of Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Invisible Man, the Gorilla Man, and the Dog-Faced What-Is-It, even a reasonable fascimile thereof isn’t to be snored or sneezed at.
The other people in the company fill the standard horror types altogether satisfactorily. Mr. Eduard Franz is excellent as the half-wit Draculean the Count starts off on flies and spiders before graduating him to the big leagues; Mr. Frank Jaquet turns in a first-rate performance as the learned professor who knows all the antodotes, and Miss Joy Nicholson, Mr. Guy Spaull, Mr. Chester Francis and Mr. Len Mence all play their well-ordered positions well and respectably although Mr. Francis might look just a little more worried.
With any kind of a daughter in such grave danger of becomming a bloody nuisance down through the ages, a father would be upset, but when that daughter happens to be Miss Heath, her old man ought to be positively epiletic.
The Pittsburgh Press, June 15, 1943
By KASPAR MONAHAN
They had the devil’s own time - almost literally – getting the best of the “king of the vampires” last evening at the Nixon, for “Dracula” in the pkay of that title is a tough customer. Wise, too, for he has been prowling the earth for some five centuries – and a gent who has lived that long is bound to learn a trick or two beyond the ken of ordinary mortals.
However, in the final scene of the concluding act, persistence and justice finally emerged victorious. In the gloom and humidity several of the brave characters found the crafty old blood-quaffer and pounded a stake through his heart as the ghastly green light illuminated his livid countenance.
That’s the only way you can you can dispose of a human vampire – and, obviously, the only way to bring down the curtain on a play concerned with vampires. You can’t shoot ‘em or poison ‘em or have the law on ‘em. They’re beyond the law, beyond comprehension and, speaking personally, beyond common sense.
Nexrt week the house goes dark, so the cleaning crew may swab up the gore and Sam Nixon may comb the bats out of his leonine mane and get things lined up for the new season.
Headed by Bela Lugosi, an experienced practitioner of the black arts these many years in the movies, it’s an uncommonly good crew of actors engaged in the outlandish clap-trap that is “Dracula.” There is, for instance, the very lovely Miss Mary Heath, who is the victim of the nocturnal marauder – the “undead” monster who drains her of her blood by night and snoozes all day in his secret tomb. There is her father, played by Charles Francis, in good fashion, and Frank Jaquet as the Dutch scientist who in the end is the Nemesis of the grisly fellow. And Eduard Franz is good, too, as a demented fellow, the “slave” of this Dracula.
To the accompaniment of backsatge noises – the howling of dogs, the maniacal laughter of our crazy man, whistling of bats (I suppose bats whistle) Dracula goes about his hellish business. He has come from his old stamping ground of “Transylvania” to England by airplane, bearing with him six caskets, each filled with the soil of his native heath.
Why? Because it is revealed a vampire must “sleep” by day in the earth in which he was originally buried. Well, you can see that finding all six coffins is quite a job. And you have to find them in the daytime for from sunset to sunrise there’s nothing you can do with a vampire – particularly one like Dracula, who has been feasting on human blood for 500 years.
In the meantime, our Dutch scientist staves off the fellow by dint of calling on heaven, brandishing holy objects, rubbing window sills and doors with “wolfbane,” until at last (praise be!), the preposterous hokus-pokus ends with its supreme strain on the credulity – driving of the stake through Dracula’s black heart.
All this to save the lovely Mary Heath from a fate immeasureably worse than death – and not only her, but future generations of Britishers; for if Dracula lives, God save the king and everybody else.
However, “Dracula” is better than the revival of “The Bat,” last week’s entry. “Dracula,” I think, is funnier – and when those back-stage wolves get going, louder.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 18, 1943
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 19, 1943
June 21 – 26
National Theater, Washington, D.C.
The Billboard, June 12, 1943
Duffy-Pitts ‘Bat’ Shelved in D.C., Nat’l on Fence
WASHINGTON, June 5. – Henry Duffy’s production of The Bat, featuring Zasu Pitts, which was scheduled to come into the National Theater here for the week of June 14 has been canceled out. Reason given was that show has been abandoned by Miss Pitts and producer.
This leaves house dark for the week, which is just as well, perhaps, since any engagement that week would be against the Ringling circus, always strong here. National’s summer schedule resumes following week with Bela Lugosi in Dracula. This old suspense thriller will play a week at scale of 50 cents to $1.50.
So far, National is still playing hide-and-seek with local drama desks over whether it will keep open thru warm months. Chances are now that it will shutter, especially if schedule becomes spotty and too many dark weeks arise.
The Washington Post, Washington, D. C., June 20, 1943
‘DRACULA’ LUGOSI GLAD TO BE BACK WHERE HE CAN ACTUALLY HEAR THE AUDIENCE SHRIEK
Bela Lugosi, whose name has been practically synonymous with horror since he created the role of Dracula on Broadway years ago, returns to the stage in his original role on Monday evening, when the revival of Dracula opens at the National Theater for a limited engagement.
Having run an alarming Hollywood horror gamut from Georgian monsters to baying werewolves, Mr. Lugosi is rather relieved to find himself back in the role of the relatively innocuous blood-sucking vampire.
Off-stage, Mr. Lugosi is pleasant and soft-spoken, affably observing the world from his height of 6 feet 2 inches. His tastes run to gypsy music, dogs and Hungarian food. He is, moreover, an avowed Roosevelt disciple.
“The president is the greatest personality of the day, in my opinion,” states Mr. Lugosi, “and I am a firm believer in his ideas and ideals.”
He believes that audience now need the emotional release and stimulus which escapist entertainment line Dracula provides.
Before Mr. Lugosi created the role of Dracula, which proved to be the sensational forerunner of years of projected horror on stage and on screen, he played only romantic leads. Since Dracula, however, the public would have none of Lugosi in anything but horror roles.
He is delighted at the idea of being back to the legitimate theater. “It will be a real thrill to hear an audience gasp in terror. The more horrified they are, the better I like it.”
The Hearne Democrat, Hearne, Texas, July 2, 1943
GOVERNMENT GIRL IN WASHINGTON
by Penny Chatmas
In an attempt to forget Congressional disturbances, I dashed down to the National Theater to get a little cheer from their last playoff this season. It turned out that they were doing that gay little play, Dracula with Bela Lugosi furnishing the major thrills. Actually, after being on the hill and seeing some of the stuff that goes on up there, Dracula wasn’t half as frightening as it might have been. Afterwards, desiring a closer look at the horror man, I went back stage where he complacently sat, with a cigar in his mouth, and a smile on his face. I looked at him and said, “You wouldn’t feel insulted, would you, if I told you that you were perfectly horrible to night.” He laughed, continued writing autographs, and relied, “No, not at all”—So the bad man has a good sense of humor.
Arsenic and Old Lace
Bela as Jonathan Brewster in the 1943 National Company production
Tivoli Theatre, San Francisco
The Billboard, July 31, 1943
“Arsenic” Reopens Tivoli
SAN FRANCISCO, July 24 – Blumenthal Theatres, operators of the Tivoli, are re-opening the house as a popular-priced legit spot, presenting a series of plays with New York casts. Opens July 29 with Arsenic and Old Lace, starring Bela Lugosi and Alison Skipworth.
Set to follow are C. Aubrey Smith in Old English, and Maxwell Anderson’s The Eve of St. Mark. House has been showing flickers, but is being made over for stage productions
Berkeley Daily Gazette, July 31, 1943
Berkeley Daily Gazette, August 4, 1943
Berkely Daily Gazette, August 5, 1943
Berkely Daily Gazette, August 5, 1943
The Billboard, August 7, 1943
…MOE COSTELLO closed his theater and hotel business in Norfolk, Va., having sold his Cleveland Hotel interests there to Eddie Madden, and left for the Coast July 26. Has leased the Music Box, Hollywood, and Tivoli, San Francisco. Both house to play legit as part of the newly formed Pacific Coast Circuit, Inc., of which he and Raymond Payton, cousin of the late Corse Payton, are execs. Music Box to open August 5 with Arsenic and Old Lace, featuring Bela Lugosi, with Old English to follow.
The San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Supplement “This World,” August 8, 1943
THE WORLD OF DRAMA — BELA LUGOSI
by Dwight Whitney
I am here to report something which may prove starling at first. Don’t be too disillusioned, but Bela Lugosi had parsley omelette for lunch last Wednesday. Contrary to any fly-by-night reports that may be circulating around, Mr. Lugosi does not exist solely off herbs and potions, nor does he have a mobile laboratory in which he practices alchemy before breakfast, as, I believe, was once a story given some credence by an overzealous press agent.
As a matter of fact, the occult, the pseudo-occult, and all the horrific Hollywood ramifications thereof, bore Mr. Lugosi considerably. That is, they bore him only insomuch as he has been forced, by a theatrical happenstance to overindulge himself in what Hollywood euphemistically calls horror. He is the actor who very name will strike terror into the heart of all but the most unsusceptible, and there is hardly a month goes by when he does not transplant the brain of at least one anthropoid into the body of a man, or hold a nocturnal tryst with a zombie.
Not that Mr. Lugosi doesn’t look the part. He as the long thin fingers of an artist, the gaunt face with small searching eyes and black eyebrows which curl sinisterly around his eye-sockets until they almost touch the cheekbones, and the loose rambling frame which lends him an air of the unworldly such as one might find in Edgar Allan Poe. In truth it is not difficult to imagine him among his beakers and test tubes carrying on nefarious experiments in a subterranean crypt.
But Lugosi is not a professional ghoul, he is an actor. In Hungary where he was born on October 20, 1882, he trained at Budapest’s Academy of Theatrical Arts, and by 1913 was the leading actor in that city’s famous Royal National Theater where he played everything from Hamlet to Cyrano to Lilliom. His professional marriage to the horrors was consummated in 1927 when Horace Liveright, then a producer, was looking around for somebody to play Count Dracula in the American production of the fabulously successful English adaptation of Bram Stoker’s minor classic.
From that day to this he has been playing Dracula in all the imitations and bastardizations of which the scriptwriters are capable. Dracula, says Lugosi, the only horror play ever written. He originally played it because it “added a new color to the rainbow of my character parts.” Then the rainbow became permanent.
Lugosi’s interest ended there. From then on it was a marriage of convenience. He has never read any more of the world’s occult literature then might be expected of the normally alert reader. Her had read and admired A. Conan Doyle, but has never particularly appreciated the mystic in Doyle’s make-up which make the Sherlock Holmes series among the finest detective stories ever written.
Instead, he pours all his energy into what he calls “dry-reading.” The library of his Hollywood retreat is packed with weighty tomes on economy, history, politics, and social evolution. He is an active anti-fascist, a self styled “extreme liberal democrat.” He reads two newspapers a day. “You must learn to read a newspaper the way you learn a profession. An amateur cannot read a modern newspaper and get anything out of it.”
His favorite newspaper on the Coast (with which he is acquainted) is Los Angeles’ liberal Daily News. He had definite ideas about newspaper publishers and editorial policy. He subscribes to The Reader’s Digest, Time (which he took for 10 years and just recently gave up), The Nation, The New Republic, The New Masses, In Fact, and Forum, as well as a dozen Hungarian magazines.
He has recently been active in forming a Hungarian anti-fascist committee among Hungarians in America, and was later elected president. Into this project he packs all the power of his political convictions. He knows his own people well enough to realize that “they cannot deal with the Nazi feudalism.” This man who goes around frightening little children at night is one of the most conscientious workers for what he calls 100% ideal democracy” during the daytime.
In Hollywood, he has a wife and a 5½ year old son whom he installed in a house of his own design in North Hollywood. He makes on the average of 5 or 6 pictures a year, all of them bad. The average Hollywood horror costs upwards of $75,000 which is cheap by Hollywood standards. If a producer would spend money and employ topnotch writers, Lugosi thinks the movies could do something to equal the stature of Dracula. There is a place for a good horror picture; it suppliers a need which is best explained in the Greek theory of tragedy, a catharsis.
The trouble with movies, Lugosi agrees, is that there are very few people who understand that what you can see, no matter how horrible, is not half as frightening as what you can’t see. It is the imminence and not the actuality. Only the great macabre writers like Poe understand that.
As it is, Hollywood has a peculiar tendency, Lugosi says, to turn a shocker into three degree entertainment, with a bludgeon instead of a rapier.
Strangely enough, Lugosi’s house would seem to bear out in certain respects the popular notion of what the private life of the demonologist should consist. His estate is surrounded by a wall of four feet thick, with a large iron gate covered with elaborate grillwork and on which sets a sign reading, “Beware of the Dog.” To enter one must knock first (I think 3 times is the correct number) on a heavy oak door, whereupon, if his papers are correct, he is admitted through a tiny door to one side. Once inside he will find a spacious lawn with Lugosi’s Swiss chateau sitting in the middle of it. Inside the house, he will find high paneled ceilings, heavy leather furniture, windows set in lead, a large fireplace and a spittoon.
There is no reliable information as to whether or not the Lugosis have a pet vulture sitting over the mantelpiece. I once met a man who claimed he saw it, but this no doubt was an hallucination.
Besides the humanities, Lugosi’s interests lie in sculpting and hunting. He also has a mania for stamp collecting, a relatively pedestrian pastime in which he finds a curious fascination.
Since 1927, he has only appeared on the stage twice, Murder at the Vanities for Earl Carroll in 1933, and a recent revival of Dracula (which he says was in every way up to the original company) in which he toured the East. He is here to do a play of which he is particularly fond—for two reasons. First, it is a magnificent comedy to him, and most important, it partially emancipates him temporarily, for the limitations of the type of role he has always had to play.
He has never seen Boris Karloff play Jonathan Brewster in Arsenic & Old Lace. This he deems fortunate because an actor will automatically pick up certain mannerisms for watching another actor play the part, no matter how hard he may try to keep his interpretation absolutely original. Lugosi will play a role as he sees it; as far as he is concerned he’s working in virgin territory.
There is no positive clue to indicate how deep is his sorrow at having graduated from the Royal National Theatre where the actor makes the director, to Hollywood, where he director makes the actor. He remembers the day in Budapest when the public would not allow even the greatest hit to play more than three performances, and the actors were elected to repertory group for life and supported by the state. He remembers, too, when he played the Latin apache, hot-lover type.
Meantime, he is making plans to get back to a ruined castle on the studio lot, where Universal will be charmed to have him play three zany scientists and a gorilla man within the course of the next six months.
The Billboard, August 28 1943
S.F. “Arsenic” Neat $17,000
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 21. – With a $1.50 top, Arsenic and Old Lace, featuring Bela Lugosi, grossed a neat $17,000 at the Tivoli two weeks ended 18th. Springtime for Henry, with Everett Horton is set to follow, opening the 26th.
August 20 – October 24
Music Box Theatre, Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California, September 6, 1943
TRAGEDY-COMEDY TRADITION SAFE
WITH BELA LUGOSI
Does a tragedian yearn to play comedy, same as a comedian wants to be a tragedian?
Yes, take it from Bela Lugosi, now appearing in Arsenic & Old Lace at the Music Box Theater.
“If producers had known how eager I was to play comedy, they could have got me without salary,” he grinned. “It’s my first break since the “Dracula” curse hit me. And it’s fun, too, cutting loose at rehearsals of horror films and burlesquing they’re too far-fetched. It’s humorous to hear a monster talking baby talk or monster slang. But that’s only at rehearsals. For to make these roles convincing, I have to hypnotize myself into believing them.”
Lugosi was supping on salad, not crunching bones as might have been expected. For he has no time for dinner between working on the film Return of the Vampire during the day, and Arsenic at night, so eats after the night show. Then he dashes to his Valley home—a slightly forbidding looking place—maybe to scare off autograph hunters, somebody suggested.
Will Arsenic & Old Lace kill horror pictures and plays, as ridicule is supposed to kill anything it touches? No, says Lugosi, but will make producers put more comedy into their spine-congealers. For there are always the kids who like them.
Why do children enjoy horror plays and pictures? Because, says Lugosi, of a subconscious atavistic feeling in born in hem through catastrophes which befell their forbearers centuries ago. Children like to see fearsome happenings from a safe position.
What about that Lugosi accent in Arsenic? Well, he’s supposed to have traveled the world and might have got himself one. Speaking of that accent, Hollywood tells a good one about how Gregory Ratoff, No. 1 accent spiller, when Lugosi was playing Tovarich at the Biltmore, got sown in the orchestra pit at rehearsals, and prompted Bela how to recite his line without accent!
Arsenic and Old Lace
Shrine Auditorium, Oaklahoma City, January 29
The Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, January 29, 1944
SISSIES SHOULD BOLT THEIR DOORS;
MOVIES’ DRACULA IS IN TOWN
by Ray Parr
Your old horror fan dusted off his best scream and shiver, filed a new edge on the teeth, and went up to see Dracula Friday.
He thought it would be nice to pick up a little lesson in biting.
I never wanted to sing like Frank Sinatra, or make love like Clark Gable, but man, oh man, if I could only bite like that boy, Dracula, my wall flower days would be over.
I never could do parlor tricks or answer riddles at social gatherings, but no longer would I blush with shame when folks tittered at my shortcomings. I would simply saunter over and bite the hostess on the neck in a Dracula manner.
If you don’t think I would immediately become the life of the party—certainly a card, as the saying goes—then you never saw Dracula. Or, on the other hand, you never saw me bite a hostess.
Not only that, but what with the sirloin shortage what it is, anything new along this line that don’t take ration points might come in right handy before the winter is over.
As I tiptoed into the Biltmore, I expected to find beautiful blondes scattered all over the corridor. Well, you can just imagine how I felt when I burst in his room and found that strange, half-human, half-bloodsucking vampire lying there on the bed with his evil eye fixed on a lovely delicate little—postage stamp.
Yes sir, the terrible Dracula turned out to be a stamp collector. Also, he was wearing red suspenders, his eyes were a mild, kindly blue, and his long smooth-brushed hair was streaked with a middle-aged gray. He could have been somebody’s father.
Dracula, who also is known as Bela Lugosi, collects stamps everywhere he goes. When he isn’t doing that, he is reading and hiking. Strange relaxations for him, it would seem, until one realizes that a man who makes his living working as Dracula year after year wouldn’t get a whale of a kick out of playing post office on his nights off.
When he’s home, his big fun comes from playing with his 6-year-old son.
“You wouldn’t believe it, but he is already imitating me,” Lugosi beamed, acting just like a father.
No Nicotine in Cigars
Lugosi also smokes cigars that have had the nicotine taken out of them. He likes, he says, green salads, raw fruit, no sweets, orange juice and milk.
It’s pretty nice being a horror specialist, in lots of ways.
“I’ve been getting along with everybody just fine since I became a horror man,” he said. “Everybody expects something so terrible they are surprised to find me a human.”
“Now when I was playing romantic leads, folks expected me to be a nice charming person at any hour of the day, and I had an awful time.”
Lugosi, veteran Hungarian actor, played romantic leads and character roles for 20 years in Europe and in America until 1927 he created Dracula. It brought him international fame.
Now folks no longer want to see him as a great lover. They want to scream.
But There’s Cash In It
It would all be pretty sad and his and his professional heart would be heavy, except there is pretty good dough in making folks scream.
From a discussion of art and culture, things moved on to the subject of dinner.
“I sure would like a good rare steak,” he said, forgetting all about the green salad and raw fruit, the Dracula apparently coming out in him.
“And would you like to come by my room first?” he continued, forgetting about all the milk and orange juice.
(P.S. Lugosi is the star of Arsenic & Old Lace at the Shrine Saturday afternoon and night. There are plenty of tickets left for the afternoon performance, according to Jim Boyle. We promised Jim we would try to work in something about his show if he would dig up Dracula for us.)
Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans, February 7-8
Bela’s reaction to seeing Boris Karloff’s face on this poster must have been interesting
City Auditorium, Augusta, February 16-21
The Billboard, February, 19, 1944
Augusta Bizmen Want Shows
AUGUSTA, Ga., Feb. 12. – Local businessmen have formed a new enterprise. Auditorium Attractions, to present roadshows, name bands and concert artists at City Auditorium. Arsenic and Old Lace, with Bela Lugosi, comes in February 16, to be followed by Junior Miss, Tobacco Road and Abie’s Irish Rose. Arsenic will be the first roadshow to stop here in three years. Eddie T. Lewis, well-known showman, is head of the new company.
Ford’s Theatre, Baltimore, Maryland, February 27 – March 3
The Baltimore News-Post, February 29, 1944
The Billboard, March 11, 1944
BALTIMORE, March 4. – Return engagement of Arsenic and Old Lace at Ford’s Theater, second of season, grossed a fine $14,000, which compares with the $17,000 grossed the season’s opening in September.
Bela Lugosi headed the cast. Last September Boris Karloff held the stellar role.
The Playhouse, Willington, Delaware, March 9-11
The publicity department still haven’t got the poster right
Bela’s face finally replaces Boris Karloff’s on the poster
The Colonial Theatre, Boston, March 19 – April 1
The Locust Theatre, Philadelphia, April 9 – 22
Mosque Theatre, Newark, April 24-29
The Westfield Leader, April 13, 1944
“Arsenic and Old Lace” Coming to Mosque Theatre
Starring the famous Bela Lugosi in person, “Arsenic and Old Lace,” the hair raising comedy hailed by New York’s critics as a play no one would ever forget, is due at the Mosque Theatre, Newark, April 24, for one week’s engagement, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday.
Written by Joseph Kesselring, “Arsenic and Old Lace” is the first production by the Messrs. Howard Lindsley and Russel Crouse, two gentlemen not altogether unknown to the theatre, for it was this team who wrote “Life With Father,” and numerous others.
Bela Lugosi will bring the cast that has shared honors in the play’s success for the past three seasons. Jean Adair, Jack Whiting, Ruth McDevitt, Donald Macdonald and Malcolm Beggs are featured.
N o Traveler Returns
Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara
February 26 – March 9
Curran Theater, San Francisco
March 13 – 19
Metropolitan Theater, Seattle
Bela Lugosi and Ian Keith
Long Island Star-Journal, April 4, 1945
THAT’S SHOW BIZNESS
Ian Keith was tested by Director John Ford for the role of General MacArthur in the forthcoming film, “They Were Expendable.” He was okayed at $1,000 a week with a 15 week guarantee. But the actor nixed the bid. Keith decided to do a play with Bela Lugosi, for 10 per cent of the gross. The legit was out two weeks and folded in Seattle!
Bela Lugosi Company
The Billboard, April 28, 1945
Lugosi, Bela, Co. (Garrick) Fargo, N.D., 23 – 26; (Garrick) Duluth, Minn., 28 – May 4.
The Billboard, May 5, 1945
Lugosi, Bela, Co. (Garrick) Duluth, Minn., 1 – 4; (Globe) Minneapolis 6 – 19.
The Billboard, May 12, 1945
Lugosi, Bela, Co. (Globe) Minneapolis 6 – 19.
* * *
The Billboard, August 4, 1945
Bela Lugosi To Make P.A.’s
NEW YORK, July 30. – Bela Lugosi, who makes with the eyes in the blood-chilling B flickers, is being submitted for theater dates. He’s currently working on a new routine with Don Marlowe who will appear with him. Understood he’s penciled in at Loew’s State.
Capsule version of Dracula
Loew’s Melba Theatre, Brooklyn
Three Indelicate Ladies
Elaine Stritch and Bela
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 24, 1946
Hunt Stromberg, Jr., co-producer of two current hits, “The Red Mill” and “The Front Page,” has just bought a new script, “Three Indelicate Ladies,” by Hugh Evans.
The Billboard, April 12, 1947
…Joey Faye, comic, has shelved his nitery unit and is rehearsing with Bela Lugosi and the Three Indelicate Ladies…
Schubert Theater, New Haven, April 10 – 12
Yale Daily News no. 139, April 11, 1947
The Billboard, April 19, 1947
THREE INDELICATE LADIES
SHUBERT THEATER, NEW HAVEN, CONN.
A mystery-comedy by Hugh Evens. Directed by Jessie Royce Landis. Setting and lighting, Stewart Chaney. Gowns, Robert Lanza. Production associate, Thomas Elwell, Company Manager, Ralph Kravette. Press Representative, Dick Weaver. General Stage Manager, Phil Johnson. Presented by Hunt Stromberg Jr. and Thomas Spengler (in association with Irving Cooper).
Mr. Max…………………………….Joey Paye
Alfred Brook……………..Alexander Clark
Sam Phelps……………………Ray Walston
Joe The Heart…………………Jack Arnold
Francis X. O’Rourke…………Bela Lugosi
Mrs. Henrietta Brook….Francis Brandt
Bernice Desos…………..Katherine Squire
Police Sergeant…………..Robert Schuler
Paul Austin……………….Stratton Walling
There is no doubt that Hugh Evans has written a very funny play in Three Indelicate Ladies, but the show that unveiled in New Haven needs a lot of sprucing before it is ready for a Stem audience. Its plot is good and there are many hilarious scenes, but the pacing is so far off that the first-nighters found themselves stifling yawns between the guffaws. While Ladies employs several of the tricks used in Arsenic and Old Lace, the two shows are by no means comparable. After a lot of hard work by both the author and the director, this new one may yet blossom into a first-rater.
Bela Lugosi, who is starred, is almost criminally miscast. Playing a rough, tough gangster named Francis X. O’Rouke, Lugosi is unable to bring any semblance of credibility to the part. It is extremely hard for the audience to accept an Hungarian accent and the O’Rouke tag (although the author tries to explain it off by having Lugosi born in Finland – making him “Mick-y Finn”). The cigar chewing, rough-and-tumble guy is not up Bela’s alley, so the audience never once was able to give the character the response that a William Bendix would have received.
Gal Steals Show
Ann Thomas, playing one of her typical Dumb Doras, walked off with the show without too much trouble. While most of the other principals tended to play the roles too broadly and fall out of character, she maintained a steady pace and was able to get every laugh out of her lines. Jayne Fortner and Elaine Stitch, cast as the other two indelicate ladies, showed their ability to play farce, but were betrayed by a decided tendency to overplay in the big scenes.
Frances Brandt, in a short bit as one of the victims, did an exceptionally good job as an eccentric old lady, while Katherine Squire, as her niece, played the rather difficult role right to the hilt. Joey Faye, as a highly impressionable furniture dealer, was grand with his short bit, and by use of the mugging technique he has developed got a lot more out of the lines than the author wrote in. Alexander Clark, Ray Walston, Jack Arnold, Charles Mendick, Robert Schuler and Stratton Walling all handled their bit parts to perfection.
Jessie Royce Landis has not done a particularly distinguished job of directing. The pacing was noticeably bad and too many characters spoke lines either too far upstage or away for the audience, so that whole sequences were lost. Miss Landis, a top-drawer thesp herself, has a lot more to learn in her new endeavor. Stewart Chaney’s single setting and his lighting of the show were in his usual Grade A manner.
In sum, Three Indelicate Ladies can be developed into a first-rate farce with a rewrite of Act 1, a general revamping of the show’s pacing, a tightening of the entire production and a much different third act curtain, along with some necessary recasting.
Wilbur Theater, Boston, April 14 – 19
The Billboard, May 3, 1947
JOEY FAYE, assisted by Bela Lugosi and others of the cast of Three Indelicate Ladies in Boston last week, invaded the stage of the Casino during the Friday midnighter and gave an impromptu interpretation of Fluegel Street bit. It was a burly debut for all except Faye….
July 14 – 19
John Drew Theatre, East Hampton, New York
July 21 – 26
Summer Theatre, Boston
July 28 – August 2
Summer Theatre, Cambridge, Massachusetts
September 2 – 7
Norwich Summer Theatre, Norwich, Connecticut
Arsenic and Old Lace
June 30 – July 5
Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope, Pennsylvania
August 5 – 10
Spa Summer Theater, Saratoga Springs, New York
Presented by John Huntington
Staged by Ford Rainey
Bela Lugosi…………..Johnathan Brewster
Lucia Seger…………..Abby Brewster
Clyde Waddell………Rev. Dr. Harper and Lieutenant Rooney
Ted Allegretti………Teddy Brewster
John Lupton………..Officer Klein
Judith Elder…………Martha Brewster
Ruth Homond……….Elaine Harper
Ford Rainey……………Mortimer Brewster
John W. Brothers……Mr. Gibbs and Mr. Witherspoon
Bruce Adams…………..Dr. Einstein
Richard Boone…………Officer O’Hara
Schenectady Gazette, July 28, 1947
Because of strong preference for comedies, indicated by patrons of the Spa Summer theater, Producer John Huntington has requested Bela Lugosi to appear in “Arsenic and Old Lace” instead of in “Dracula” at the Spa theater during the week of Aug. 5 through 10.
Schenectady Gazette, August 5, 1947
Schenectady Gazette, August 6, 1947
Spa Theater Comedy Ably Presented
Bela Lugosi Supported By Competent Cast In Current Offering of ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’
By SHIRLEY ARMSTRONG
“Arsenic and Old Lace,” Joseph Kesselring’s celebrated comedy, opened at the Spa theater last night with Bela Lugosi, that bogey man of stage and screen, in the major role.
Because theater audiences have evidenced a preference for comedy, the vehicle was submitted by producer John Huntington for the previously scheduled “Dracula.” Lugosi, who formerly played the role of the sadistic Johnathan Brewster on Broadway after Boris Karloff left the cast, combines his gift for the sinister with a sufficient knack for humor.
However, the play could not have achieved its smooth precision performance were it not for the combined efforts of a thoroughly competent cast in support of the star.
Bruce Adams, outstanding in this year’s resident company at the Spa, is excellent in the character portrayal of Dr. Einstein – he practically out-Lorried Peter Lorre.
Judith Elder turns in a fine depiction of Martha Brewster, while Ruth Homond, another resident dependable, is excellent as Elaine Harper.
Ted Allegretti brings down the house with his riotous interpretation of Teddy Brewster. The cast includes Lucia Seger as Abby Brewster, Ford Rainey in the challenging part of Mortimer Brewster, and Clyde Waddell as Rev. Dr. Harper.
Most of you are probably acquainted with the wholly delightful plot of “Arsenic and Old Lace,” which, for the first time, takes murder as a theme and builds about it three acts of sheer comedy.
The play will run through Sunday with performances at 8:45 p.m. There will be matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:15 p.m.
Note: On Wednesday August 6, Bela appeared on Backstage at the Spa to promote the play. See Bela Lugosi On TV for more details.
Kenley Deer Lake Theatre, Pennsylvania
Reading Eagle, August 17, 1947
* * *
The Billboard, November 15, 1947
Foy-Cohan Package Set by Tom Elwell
NEW YORK, Nov. 8. – A new package featuring Eddie Foy Jr., and George M. Cohan Jr., has been set by Tom Elwell, former general manager for Hunt Stromberg Jr., who now is operating his own package agency. Show also features a 15-piece orchestra, female vocalist and chorus, with scripts penned by Marc Lawrence.
Another new Elwell package stars Bela Lugosi, film horror expert and Comedienne Ann Thomas, in a comedy mystery show. Nelson Sykes is the writer.
The Tell-Tale Heart
Vista Theatre, Negaunee, MI
July 8 – 13
Phipps Auditorium, Denver
July 19 – 24
Green Hills Theatre, Reading, Pennsylvania
August 2 – 7
Norwich Summer Theatre, Norwich, Connecticut
The New London Day, July 30, 1948
The New London Day, July 31, 1948
The New London Day, August 2, 1948
The New London Day, August 3, 1948
The New London Day, August 4, 1948
The New London DayDay, August 6, 1948
The New London Day, August 7, 1948
The Bela Lugosi Company
September 1 – 5/6
The Miami Daily News, September 1, 1948
The Miami Daily News, September 2, 1948
The Miami News, September 2, 1948
The Miami News, September 7, 1948
Night of Stars benefit for the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York
Madison Square Garden, November 15
Brooklyn Eagle, October 29, 1948
Buffet supper party
Southside American Legion Club, November 4
Binghamton Press, November 6, 1948
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein promotional tour
A Nightmare of Horror, Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles
Arsenic and Old Lace
Famous Artists Country Playhouse At Fayetteville, New York
Bela and his son pose outside the County Playhouse
The Post-Standard, July 10, 1949
Lugosi Heads Fayetteville Cast For ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’
With the closing of “Accent on, Youth” the Famous Artists Country Playhouse opens tomorrow with Bela Lugosi in “Arsenic and Old Lace”
Lugosi arrived at the Fayetteville high school last Monday and since then has been preparing for this week’s performance. He was born in Hungary, not far from Transylvania, the eerie setting of “Dracula,” the play and film that made him famous. One of his most recent pictures was “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man,” where he portrayed the monster. This is not the first time Lugosi has appeared .in the role of Jonathan Brewster. In 1943 he won critics acclaim for his portrayal of that role in the San Francisco production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
Supporting Lugosi in “Arsenic and Old Lace” will be such well known names as Florenz Ames, Catherine Cosgriff, Florence Beresford, Helen Marcy and many others. The two slightly insane aunts will be portrayed by Catherine Cosgriff, member of the cast of “Kiss and Tell” for five years, and Florence Beresford, leady lady of “The Chocolate Soldier” as Aunt Martha.
Florenz Ames has the role of Dr. Einstein and Helen Marcy, who caught audience attention in the Playhouse’s opening play, will appear as Elaine Harper.
John Larson, managing director of the company, will play Mortimer Brewster, while Tom Reynolds, a member of the road company cast of “State of the Union”, will enact the role of Teddy Brewster, third slightly insane member of the Brewster family.
Lakeside Theatre, Landing, New Jersey, July 26-31
The Bela Lugosi Company vaudeville tour
Fox Theater, St. Louis
The Billboard, December 17, 1949
Fox Theater St. Louis (Thursday, December 1)
Capacity, 5050. Prices, 60-75 cents. Number of shows, two weekdays, four on week ends. House booker, Doc Howe. Frank Panus’s house band backs show.
The current bill at this 5,000-seater moves at a neat clip. The curtain-raiser, the Four Strongs, rope spinners, showed plenty of dexterity and manipulation.
On in the No.2 spot was Hal Menkin and Madlyn. Menkin is a smooth tap hoofer who picks’em down cleverly. He did some tricky stair routines. Madlyn, a shapely blonde, around chiefly for decorative purposes, was okay for sight stuff.
Minda Lang offered a whistling routine and got a nice hand from the payers. The girl is attractive and sells to good results.
Edward Brothers (3) did some plain and fancy acro work and presented some amazing feats of tumbling and hand balancing. One of the boys had polio when a child and the theater brought in groups of polio victims as guests of Edwards. The promotion was intelligently handled.
Fastest act on the bill weas the Three Appletons, adagio act, consisting of Charles Appleton, his wife, Mitzie, and blond Virginia Tribbet. The hecticly paced act had the crowd on edge of seats and closed to a terrific mitt.
The hefty gal, Aunt Jemima, did songs in Sophie Tucker style, and garnered plenty chuckles with her dancing bits.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest laugh-getters on the show was Steve Evans. His take-off on a Polish drunk was excellent.
Closer was Bela Lugosi. He did a scene from Dracula with his wife playing the part of maid. It got a nice hand from the horror fans.
Pic, Brimstone. Abie L. Morris.
February 12 – 18
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 10, 1950
If anybody has a few stuffed vultures lying around the house, Lenny Litman would like to borrow them to lend atmosphere to his Copa Club for the engagement there of Bela Lugosi, the vampire man of the movies.
…Mr. Litman is also in need of a “machine that makes spiderwebs” for the occasion….
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 10, 1950
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 13, 1950
Post-Gazette Staff Writer
Dracula flapped into town yesterday and skittered up and down Pittsburgh streets – but he didn’t scare anyone at all.
Bela Lugosi, the Batman, here for a week’s horror-klatsch at the Copa, couldn’t even scare meltin’ Mindy Carson, syrup-voiced sweetie who’ll be offering “Candy and Cake” to the customers right across Liberty Avenue at the Carousel.
Well-protected by an entourage of six men, Miss Carson allowed Mr. Lugosi to call on her in her suite at Hotel William Penn.
He clawed up his hand, lowered his eyebrows and glowered. Miss Carson laughed, then burst briefly into somng as proof that Mr. Lugosi can’t do away so easily with the competition from across the street.
Good Try, Anyway
Anyway it eas a good try by the veteran vampire, and he was just as pleased as anyone that Miss Carson, first magnitude young singing star, escaped undimmed.
He tried again, making a claw at the elevator girl in the William Penn, but she only said, “You don’t scare me, I’ve seen too many of your pictures.”
He got some attention in the lobby and walking the streets, but not because he scared anyone. People just noticed the familiar face of the handsome man. He’s over six feet tall and straight, and yesterday he wore a tan belted polo coat and cap to match.
She’ll Have No Zombies
Miss Carson said it wouldn’t make any difference at all in her singing to have Mr. Lugosi set up shop across the street from her.
All she knows id the two places are going to be decked out differently this week. There’ll be no cobwebs or coffins on stage at the Carousel, the way Lennie Litman has those props, peopled with assorted zombies set up in the Copa.
Mr. Lugosi has been making a good thing out of scaring people for some 23 years – a year longer than Miss Carson has been kicking around this planet.
He has been in this country, having originated from Hungary, for 30 years, but at first was a hot romantic lead in various plays.
He’s All-Time Dracula
When “Dracula” hit Broadway, Mr. Lugosi was it, and he has been it ever since, doing the same role again and again in the movies, sometimes playing hide and seek with Frankenstein’s monster, and a couple of other monsters named Abbott and Costello.
This will be his first night-club hitch and he intends to do more of it, blending humor and horror.
“I get a kick out of it,” he says, “because people are not really scared.”
His eyes are a mild, pale blue, and wouldn’t scare anyone, not even a child. As a matter of fact, says Mr. Lugosi, “you can’t fool children – children and dogs.”
He doesn’t drink and smokes only cigars. Miss Carson, not knowing which end of a cigar is edible, can offer him “Candy and Cake,” if he wants to go from the Copa to the Carousel to get it.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 14, 1950
The Billboard, March 11, 1950
Pittsburgh: Bela Lugosi broke in his new night club act at the Copa. He used comedienne Tiny Sinclair in his act and after his Dracula the two worked to good results in a nine-minute comedy stint.
March 20 – 25
The Theatre, St. Petersburg, Florida
The Evening Independent, March 16, 1950
Horror Man Here For Play
Lugosi Assails Crime Comics, Radio Dramas
By C. WINN UPCHURCH
Independent Staff Writer
Bela Lugosi makes his living as the horror man of the movies but as a father he is against crime comics, crime radio dramas and movies that deal with blood – red knives and smoking guns.
The Hollywood actor arrived in St. Petersburg Wednesday after driving here from New York with his wife – manager. The two are stopping at the Tides hotel and next week Lugosi will star in the title role of “Dracula” to be presented by the St. Petersburg Players at the South Side junior high school auditorium.
Lugosi has portrayed the role of “Dracula” some 1,000 times but there was a time when he played romantic leads. That was in his native Hungary. He came to the United States in 1920 as a “political refugee fleeing from the Reds”.
Off stage and in his natural dress Lugosi does not appear to be the horror man that he is on screen or stage, a modestly dressed man, wearing white sport shoes and sporting a bow tie, he is more the typr of a retired businessman.
He has a 12-year-old son attending military school in California and Lugosi made it emphatic that his son is not allowed to read crime comics, listen to crime radio programs or see “horror” movies. “It is no good for youngsters,” the man who has become famous as the scare-the-daylights-out-of-you actor explains.
Lugosi uses non make-up for his Dracula role.
“I just mug the part,” he laughs.
Mr. and Mrs. Lugosi reside in Greenwich Village, New York.
He is not under contract to any of the movie studios but prefers to free lance.
“That way I can select my own roles,” he says in his slight European drawl.
He is currently making a personal appearance tour and from here will return to New York where he appears on radio and television shows, one of his recent shows being the popular “Suspense” program and another a televbision appearance with Milton Berle.
Lugosi doesn’t think of his screen portrayals as horror types.
“I just make funny faces,” he puts it.
The Evening Independent, March 18, 1950
St. Petersburg Times, March 18, 1950
St. Petersburg Times, March 19, 1950
Bela Lugosi and Dracula, both of whom will be seen with the St. Petersburg Players for a week beginning tomorrow night at 8:30 o’clock, are inseperable and virtually synonymous.
Never has an actor been more identified with a role and never has a role so influenced and dominated an actor’s private fortunes.
How the man and role are melded into each other will be more than apparent at The Theatre, Tenth Street South and Seventeenth Avenue, where the thrilling vampire play, “Dracula,” is to be shown nightly this week with matinee on Saturday at 2:30 o’clock.
For some 20 years Lugosi played all manner of character and romantic leads, including Shakespeare and Ibsen. Then in 1929, he created that strange half-human, half-bloodsucking vampire bat character of Bram Stoker’s famous novel. Ever since then “Dracula” has pursued him as relentlessly as he pursued his women victims in the play.
At first the actor was grateful to “Dracula”. The character lifted him from relative obscurity and made him a figure of importance on the New York stage. Within two years it elevated him to stardom in the screen.
But all that Lugosi had done before that date was forgotten. As though caught in the inexorable tentacles of an octopus, he became typed as a “horror” specialist, a master in that medium, but fit for nothing else.
Where once he had been the master of his own professional destinies, he became “Dracula’s” puppet. The shadowy figure of “Dracula”, more than any casting office, dictated the kind of parts he could play. To an actor accustomed to a wide variety of roles, it was an unsatisfactory situation.
As “Dracula,” typifing “horror” pictures, fared, so Lugosi fared. The character made him a screen star, gave him a fine home and wealth. A few years of that and such films were banned by England. Hollywood quit making them. Lugosi, off the screen for two years, went broke, lost practically everything.
Then a small, independent exhibitor, experimenting to revive dwindling box office receipts, booked “Dracula” and “Frankenstein.” Crowds stood in line until 2a.m. to see them.
Taking its cue from this, Universal put on a revival of the pictures throughout the country. When the response was equally startling, the studio cast Lugosi and Boris Karloff in “The Son of Frankenstein”. Lugosi was back in pictures; “Dracula” had made him a star again.
“Dracula,” which will thrill theatregoers for a week, beginning tomorrow, is the St. Petersburg Players’ last attraction of the season.
St. Petersburg Times, March 20, 1950
‘Dracula’ Stars Lugosi Tonight
The St. Petersburg Players will wind up their season this week with a spine-chilling roar. “Dracula,” starring the internationally famous Bela Lugosi , starts tonight for a week’s run at The Theatre, Tenth Street South and Seventeenth Avenue. It is the season’s last play.
The story of the creature, half-human, half-vampire who stalks women victims, has thrilled and chilled theatregoers simce it was first produced in 1929. Since its beginning, Lugosi has been as inseparably identified with “Dracula” as Crosby is with crooning. Curtain at 8:30.
St. Petersburg Times, March 21, 1950
The Evening Independent, March 21, 1950
That old but ever new stage play and movie,”Dracula” was given by the man who created the role, Bela Lugosi, at the South Side Junior High School, last night. He had good support from the St. Petersburg players and this was necessary to make the play the success that it was at the first performance here. “Dracula” will be given each evening this week, through Saturday with matinees Wednesday and Saturday.
Lugosi faced an almost full house, last night. Half the audience were youngsters 10 to 16 years of age and they received the thriller with wild enthusiasm and did not overlook a line. They were silent when the curtain was up, thoroughly absorbed in the drama that was presented and the star of stage and screen could not have asked for a better or more attentive audience.
Lugosi is a finished and polished actor. He plays the “vampire” role with suavity and smoothness and has a lot of personal magnatism that gets over the footlights. He has played the role 1,000 times, on the stage, and the film has been shown at least once a year in almost every city in this country ever since it was first made in 1931. It always draws, no matter how often it has been shown.
“Dracula” was made from a book written some 60 years ago. Years later it was converted into a stage play and was given first in London where it ran for three years to capacity houses. Then it was presented in New York and Lugosi, who had been trained as an actor in Hungary, was given the role of “Count Dracula.” The play deals with a human vampire who sucks the blood of his victims. It is a real melodrama that has interest for adults as well as children when it is played well, as it was last night.
Lugosi is, of course, the star and is the central figure of the play. But he needs good support and got it from a good cast. The mysterious background was well built up in ther first act before Lugosi appears and the scene was well set for his appearance. The best tribute that could be paid the performance was the tense silence that prevailed through the whole play.
Bruce Blaine gave, last night, the best performance he has given this season. He played the role of the insane man who was under the domination of “Dracula.” It was a difficult part to play and Blaine did it very well. Elizabeth Hargen, as “Lucy”, gave a fine and sensitive performance, being especially effective in the scene where she attempts to drink the blood of her sweetheart. David Hooks, Leigh Gutteridge and Fred Scollay made the first act tensely interesting as they unfolded the plot against “Lucy.” Frank Edgar as the attendant did well. Constance Kelly handled a small role convincingly.
“Dracula” is well worth seeing. A.R.D.
St. Petersburg Times, March 22, 1950
By NORMAN BUNIN
For ten weeks now, two acting groups have been providing St. Petersburg with stage productions in the tradition of the old stock companies. But not until Monday night has the city had an audience in that same tradition.
Several hundred children who comprised most of the audience for the St. Petersburg Players’ initial presentation of “Dracula” with Bela Lugosi, gasped, screamed and applauded in a heartfelt manner their inhibited elders have long abandoned.
THE EERIE TALE of Count Dracula, the blood-sucking vampire, transported these eager young theatre-goers above and beyond the humdrum world of carping teachers and unfinished homework as few movie thrillers or other items of their weekly adventure fare could.
The adults on hand may have pretendded that it was sophistication rather than meek restraint which prevented them from joining so fully in the spirit of the evening, but the kids weren’t bothered by labels. It is true that, conditioned by too many radio comics, they laughed in places the playwrite never intended them to, but the modern cynicism vanished when Lugosi unleashed his store of scare tactics.
What has been said was not intended to keep adults away from “Dracula.” If they can throw one, they’ll enjoy it. Certainly there is purgative value in an evening of concentrated, fast-moving horror for one who suffers from the more insidious, creeping fears of an atomic age. The play is hokum, but hokum on a grand scale.
AND LUGOSI is no mere bogey-man. He is, indeed, a fine and accomplished actor, whose playing is well worth seeing, for it is one of the few remaining examples in this country of the old European tradition – over-emphasized, drawn in sweeping melodramatic strokes, but always moving.
The visiting star has also staged the play – with lots of action, hidden doors, weird lights – all the ingredients to chill his spectators.
The local company gives him ample support.
This week’s run of “Dracula” (through Saturday) is the last effort of the season by the St. Petersburg Players at South Side Junior High School. Let’s hope we see them again next year.
July 4 – 8
Saint Michael’s Playhouse, Winooski Park, Vermont.
April 13 – 15
Rialto Theatre, New York
Evening Recorder, Amsterdam, N.Y., Wednesday, April 12, 1950
The Mystery Writers of America Annual Dinner
Spokane Daily Chronicle, April 21, 1950
No Bela Laugh as Writers Spotlight Fearsome Lugosi
By ED CREAGH
NEW YORK, April 21. (AP) – The Mystery Writers of America held their annual clambake last night in an atmosphere of fluttering bats’ wings, corpses in the broom closet and a dagger in every chest.
Fun? There hasn’t been so much mock mayhem since the late Mr. Bluebeard started using his wives’ necks for meat cleaver practice. Bluebeard, of course, wasn’t kidding. These whodunit authors were – or so they said, anyway.
Take the menu for instance. It led off with chilled hemlock cup (hemlock being a deadly poison), got down to business with a soup called “witches’ broth,” came through with bared breast of duck euthanasia for the main course.
After the dessert (creme de la crime) the annual awards were presented. “Edgars,” they’re called – in honor of Edgar Allan Poe, a fair hand at the horror business himself. Then came the stage show, in which the crime writers kidded the goose-pimples off their industry and each other.
Why did Poe take to drink? One of the skits explained it: He had a premonition of the radio horror programs that send 20th century children into nightmares.
What does a bride do when she finds her husband is trying to poison her? A skit disposed of that problem in no time. The bride killed several birds with one flask and fed the poison to her mother-in-law.
These mystery writers – who supply gore and suspense to the magazines, book publishers, movies, radio and television – really are gentle souls at heart. Or so they said, anyway.
Their clubhouse is in the heart of the slaughterhouse district. To get in, you elbow your way through a forest of carcasses. Beef carcasses. Don’t wear your best clothes. Bloodstains are hard to remove.
Bela Lugosi, the screen spine-chiller, was on hand as guest of honor – only the program called him “ghost of honor.”
Somebody suggested that he should make a speech. Lugosi, who makes like vampires and assorted creeps before the cameras, paled.
“A sweet family man…a henpecked husband like me…stand up in front of theses writers?” he quavered.
The blood-and-thunder brigade got no speech from Bela Lugosi.
The Devil Also Dreams
The Billboard, June 3, 1950
Blaney, Jaeger Skeds “Devil Dreams” First for Silos
The recently formed producing team of H. Clay Blaney and C. Peter Jaegar sked rehearsals for Fritz Rotter’s mystery comedy, “The Devil Also Dreams,” to start July 1. Reginald Denham will direct an all-star cast, which will include Francis L.Sullivan. In lieu of the usual road break-in, a few stops at top silo theaters are being booked to get under way in late July. Lester Al Smith has been signed by the firm as general manager.
The Billboard, July 15, 1950
BRIEF AND IMPORTANT
“Devil Also Dreams” Starts Rehearsals With Claire Luce
“The Devil Also Dreams,” a comedy melo sponsored by H. Clay Blaney and Peter Jaeger, gets into rehearsal Monday (10). A seven-week break-in tour of top silo stands is scheduled with a Stem opening in late September. Cast includes Claire Luce, Francis L. Sullivan, Bela Lugosi, Richard Waring and Oswald Marshall.
Somerset Summer Theater, Somerset, Massachusetts
Handbill front and rear
,July 31 – August 5
Famous Artists Country Playhouse, East Rochester
The County Playhouse, Fayette, New York
The Royal Alexandria Theatre, Toronto, Canada
His Majesty’s Theatre, Montreal, Canada
The Montreal Gazette, August 5, 1950
BEWARE, MISS LUCE: Bela Lugosi, the old Dracula man, casts a glittering eye on attractive Claire Luce. Both are starred with Francis L. Sullivan, the celebrated British actor, in The Devil Also Dreams, the comedy-melodrama coming to the stage at His Majesty’s Theatre on Tuesday, Aug 22, as the first visiting play of the 1950-1951 season.
‘Devil Also Dreams’ Here Prior to New York Run
Playing a pre-Broadway engagement of five days, starting Tuesday, Aug. 22, The Devil Also Dreams, will serve to inaugurate the legitimate theatre’s 1950-51 season in Montreal.
Presented by H. Clay Blaney and C. Peter Jaeger, this new comedy-melodrama offers a four-star group of some of the stage and screen’s most outstanding personalities. Heading the cast is Claire Luce. Miss Luce was a sensation in London and New York in such successes as The Gay divorcee and Of Mice and Men.
Co-starring with Miss Luce is Francis L. Sullivan, celebrated British star of stage and screen, Bela Lugosi, the Dracula horror man, and handsome Richard Waring, Ethel Barrymore’s co-star in The Corn is Green.
The Devil Also Dreams is directed by Reginald Denham, perhaps the best mystery play director in the theatre today. He has to his credit, either as author or director, Ladies in Retirement, Wall Flower, Portrait in Black, The Two Mrs. Carrolls and nearly a score of others.
The Devil Also Dreams was written by Elissa Rohn and Fritz Rotter. Mr. Rotter’s best previous play, Letters to Lucerne was voted one of the ten best plays in 1941.
The Devil Also Dreams is a mystery comedy which takes place in the mauve London of the 1890′s. The plot revolves around an aging playwrite (Francis Sullivan) who has finally come to realize that his fast failing writing can no longer hold the dubious affection of the girl (Miss Luce) whom he has brought up from obscurity to London’s most toasted leading lady.
In a desperate effort to prevent the beautiful but designing lady from leaving him he resorts to attempted plagiarism of the literary talents of a brilliant but unknown young playwrite (Mr. Waring). Eventually murder becomes necessary for concealment.
Aided and abetted by a half-maniac butler (Mr. Lugosi), the homicide attempts and their results provide the thrills and laughs of the play.
Before appearing here, The Devil Also Dreams has had three weeks of rehearsal in New York and three weeks of tune-up performance in Providence, Syacuse and Rochester. After playing Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, the new comedy melodrama goes directly to the Booth Theatre in New York City.
The Montreal Gazette, August 5, 1950
‘The Devil Also Dreams’ Opening Locally August 22
The four-star comedy melodrama, The Devil Also Dreams, which is booked to be the first attraction of His Majesty’s Theatre for the season 1950-1951, will play a five-day engagement at the theatre beginning Tuesday evening, August 22, with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday.
The Devil Also Dreams tells a tale of theatrical life in London of the 1890s, and will be played by four well known stars of stage and screen. Claire Luce, who plays the only feminine role, has had a colorful career on two continents. She danced with Fred Astaire in The Gay Divorce, gave a memorable portrayal of Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair, and was the first American leading woman to star at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-on-Avon.
Co-starring with Miss Luce is Francis L. Sullivan, celebrated British character actor. He is best remembered by American and Canadian audiences for his Mr. Jaggers in the screen version of Dickens’ Great Expectations and has leading roles in two current films, Night And The City and Winslow Boy.
Bela Lugosi, before becoming the Dracula bogeyman of American pictures, achieved European success in Ibsen and Shakespearean roles, and will be remembered for his portrayal of Johnathan Drew in Arsenic and Old Lace.
Richard Waring has appeared in many plays, co-starring with Ethel Barrymore for three years in The Corn is Green and recently appearing opposite Eva Le Galliene in a revival of the same play on Broadway.
Oswald Marshall is a veteran British actor who has been seen in this country in Victoria Regina, The Barrets of Wimpole Street and I Remember Mama.
The action of The Devil Also Dreams revolves about the efforts of a famous aging playwright (Sullivan) to hold the affections of his mercenary young actress mistress (Luce) when a young writer brings a promising manuscript to him for criticism. The playwright plans to steal the play, and – with the aid of his half mad butler (Lugosi) – murder the young author.
The Montreal Gazette, August 19, 1950
Stage and Screen Stars Due Here in Melodrama
A new play The Devil Also Dreams will herald the opening of the legitimate theatre’s 1950-51 season in Montreal. This comedy melodrama, written by Fritz Rotters and Elissa Rohn and directed by Reginald Denham, starts a five-day engagement Tuesday with usual Wednesday and Saturday matinees.
Playing a short pre-Broadway tour The Devil Also Dreams boasts stage and screen stars such as the lovely Claire Luce, rotund British star, Francis L. Sullivan, the Dracula horror man, Bela Lugosi, and the handsome ex-Ethel Barrymore leading man, Richard Waring.
This comedy melodrama, located in London, has as its central character an aging playwright named Quill. Many stage successes have given him an opulence that extends from his purse to his girth, also a young mistress of unusual beauty and talent. Quill has molded her into London’s favorite leading woman for his many brilliantly written stage successes. However, with age and avoirdupois comes senility and the once great brain can no longer fashion the words and scenes on which her talent and beauty depend for development. The girl realizing all this, is leaving Quill.
To hold his lady the playwrite resorts to plagiarizing the fine but undeveloped writing talents of a young author who has, with awe and reverence, submitted his first play to the master for criticism. Successful larceny in this instance involves the complete elimination of the up and coming young man. To aid and abet this homicide, Quill utilizes the services of his half mad butler, an old Shakespearean actor.
The evening selected for the demise of the young writer arrives, as does an unexpected visit by the old family doctor. This unforeseen development unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on the side receiving your cheers, upsets the vehicle bearing the fruit that causes Adam’s downfall. Things begin to happen in a fast, furious and funny manner. The situation becomes one that only a devil could dream.
Theatregoers will be privileged to view all these carrying ons prior to Broadway where the play will be introduced in mid-September by its sponsors H. Clay Blaney and C. Peter Jaeger.
The Montreal Gazette, August 22, 1950
His Majesty’s Theatre Presents New Comedy Melodrama Tonight
The 1950-51 theatrical season will open tonight at His Majesty’s when the management will present as its first road attraction, the four-star comedy melodrama, The Devil Also Dreams, written by Fritz Rotters and Elissa John, and produced by H. Clay Blaney and C. Peter Jaeger. The engagement will be for five evenings and two matinees Wednesday and Sunday.
The Devil Also Dreams, a tale of theatrical life in London of the 1890s, will be played by four well known stars of stage and screen. Claire Luce, who plays the feminine role, Francis L. Sullivan, who was last seen in the motion picture, Night And The City , star in the play.
Bela Lugosi, known the world over for his performances as Dracula and Frankenstein, will be seen in an important co-starring role. He will also be remembered for his portrayal of Jonathan in Arsenic and Old Lace.
Richard Waring, who was co-starring with Ethel Barrymore in The Corn is Green, will also be seen in an important co-starring role.
The action of The Devil Also Dreams revolves about the efforts of a famous aging playwright (Sullivan) to hold the affections of his mercenary young actress mistress (Luce). When a young writer (Waring) brings a promising manuscript to him for criticism, the playwright plans to steal the play, and – with the aid of his half-mad butler (Lugosi) – murder the young author.
Bela with a group of admirers at the The Manor House hotel in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec.
The Montreal Gazette, August 23, 1950
Sullivan Stars At His Majesty’s
British star here in ‘Devil Also Dreams’
By THOMAS ARCHER
Let us say immediately about The Devil Also Dreams, the first stage production at His Majesty’s opening the season last night that it is here before trying its luck in New York, and that it will take with it there a very exceptional cast. Fritz Rosser and Elissa Bohn, who wrote the play, will have never been better served than they are by the five actors who interpret the authors’ situations and lines.
The play itself has a novel twist and some excellent lines and situations. It is not one that is likely to make its mark in dramatic literature or even to make the top dramatic grade on this continent.
What we have is the story of an eminent dramatist, and the beautiful star for whom he has written continuous hits, faced with a young playwright with new ideas.
The older man sees the opportunity to use the youngster. The star is torn between the two men. Who can supply her with the best medium to exploit her glittering, glamorous personality. Out of this Mr. Rotter and Miss Bohn have attempted to build a convincing three act play.
There was a certain feeling all the way through that dialogue and situation were improvised. Often the situations were brilliantly taken. Sometimes we felt a labored effort to make it all go. The dramatic logic was not invariably convincing.
But last night that mattered less than might have been expected. It is very well to dogmatize that the play’s the thing but when you have a rare cast which transcends the play itself and builds it up by sheer virtuosity into a first-class theatre experience, then play analysis is slightly out of place. We have little enough acting of this kind out of the films in Montreal in these days. Let us not complain but enjoy what is given us.
There is Francis L. Sullivan as the elderly playwrite in peril of losing both his working star and his reputation to a junior genius. The role is written for Mr. Sullivan and he reveals himself as an extraordinarily gifted man of the theatre. We have seen Mr. Sullivan in films and have admired him immensely. But to appreciate his colorful personality, his superb command of English, his sense of the theatre and what it entails in voice, gesture and rhythm, he must be seen in person. That is why every lover of the theatre should take in The Devil Also Dreams.
He is ably supported. Clare Luce is a perfect team-mate as the temperamental actress who is the key to the dramatic situation. Miss Luce, like Mr. Sullivan, has a technique which it is both a lesson and a joy to watch. She also has what might be called authority, as added attraction, a rare thing in the theatre.
Richard Waring is most winning as the romantic young playwrite: and also an accomplished actor. Bela Lugosi, who is known to most people as a horror man of films, is quite delightfully out of his conventional character. Mr. Lugosi is Mr. Sullivan’s ex-actor butler, who formerly played Hamlet and, while a model in his present vocation, can never forget that he once intoned “To Be Or Not To Be” before an audience. This in itself will make the play worth seeing for many.
And then we have the veteran Oswald Marshall who comes in during the final poison party as the attentive, old fashioned English doctor. This adds to the old theatre stuff that never fails.
The costumes and setting are well designed but hardly make us think about England in the late Nineties where and when the action is supposed to take place. But this is a minor matter.
Members of the cast of The Devil Also Dreams have fun after a performance.
Bela Lugosi’s Big Horror and Magic Stage Show
RKO Capitol Theatre, Trenton, New Jersey
The Billboard, December 23, 1950
Film Cirk Gets 1-Night Live Unit
NEW YORK, Dec. 16. – A package headed by Bela Lugosi will start a series of one and two nighters, in and around New York, beginning December 26 and running to December 31.
The unit, produced and booked by Dave Dietz, will include a magician, six girls, four boys and a gorilla. Included will be a Lugosi flicker to run about 60 minutes. The stage show will run less than an hour. There’ll be no music; recordings will be used.
Package is being sold at a base rate of 50-50, tho every house will be dickered with differently. Dates so far set include RKO, Paramount and Skouras houses, starting at the RKO Capitol, Trenton, N.J. All shows will be scaled at $1 flat.
After the one and two nighters are finished, unit will probably do a week at the Baltimore Hippodrome.
The Billboard, January 6, 1951
Lugosi Spook Show Opens to Standees
TRENTON, N.J., Dec. 30. – The Bela Lugosi package preemed at the RKO Capitol here Tuesday night (26) and drew over 2,000 for a midnight showing despite a heavy snow fall. Capacity of the house is 1,875.
RKO Dyker, Brooklyn, NY
RKO Proctor’s Palace, Yonkers, New York
RKO Proctor’s Theater, New Rochelle, New York
Courtesy of www.templeofschlock.blogspot.jp
Bela Lugosi’s Big Horror and Magic Stage Show
RKO Alden, Jamaica, NY
The Billboard, February 17, 1951
Hocus-Pocus of Magic and Magi
By BILL SACHS
…Bela Lugosi Horror Show has been playing the New York area…
Regent Theter, Paterson, New Jersey
Warner’s State Theater, Hartford, Conneticut
The Billboard, March 17, 1951
Hocus-Pocus of Magic and Magi
By BILL SACHS
Prof. J. Stonehurst (Jean L. Casey) writes from his Milldale, Conn., headquarters: “Caught Bela Lugosi’s horror show at the State Theater, Hartford, Conn., and found it an excellent presentation by a master showman.
RKO Proctor’s Theater, Newark, New Jersey
RKO Kenmore, Brooklyn, New York
Stanley Theater, Camden, New Jersey
RKO Stanley, Camden, New Jersey
British Revival Tour
For exhaustive details of the British tour, please visit our 1951 British Dracula Tour – Newspaper Articles And Memorabilia page.
Theatre Royal, Brighton - April 30-May 5
Lewisham Hippodrome – May 7-12
Golders Green Hippodrome – May 14-19
Streatham Hill Theatre – May 21-26
Dudley Hippodrome – May 28-June 2
Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne – June 4-9
Empire Theatre, Shepherd’s Bush – June 11-16
Bela attends the Sunday Pictorial Film Garden Party at Morden Hall Park, Surrey – June 16
King’s Theatre, Glasgow - June 18-23
Empire Theatre, Middlesbrough – June 25-30
Bela appears at the Stockton Festival of Britain Week in Ropner Park - June 30
The Grand Opera House, Belfast – July 2-7
Wood Green Empire – July 9-14
The Manchester Hippodrome - July 16-21
Theatre Royal, Norwich – July 23-28
Bela attends a British Legion fete in Drayton, Norwich - July 28 (?)
Palace Theatre, Leicester - July 30-August 4
Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield – August 6-11
Bela opened a new wet pea cannery at the Bachelors factory in Sheffield - August ?
The Empire, Chatham – August 13-18
Bela attends a Festival Park Fete in Gillingham – August 16
Alma Theatre, Luton – August 20-25
Theatre Royal, Nottingham – August 27-September 1
The Chiswick Empire – September 3-8
The New Theatre, Cambridge – September 10-15
The Derby Hippodrome – September 17-22
Theatre Royal, Portsmouth - October 8-13
Spook show tour with Kim Yen Soo
West Coast Theatre, San Bernardino
Bela Lugosi, Delores and Ed Wood at the West Coast Theatre in San Bernardino on New Year’s Eve, 1953.
The Bela Lugosi Revue
February 19 – March 27
The Silver Slipper Saloon
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