Original cover artwork for Vampire Over London: Bela Lugosi In Britain by Haig Demarjian
Welcome to Vampire Over London:
The Bela Lugosi Blog
For eight months in 1951 Bela Lugosi toured the length and breadth of Britain in a stage revival of Dracula. With horror films out of fashion and his career in terminal decline, the 68 year-old actor had been lured across the Atlantic by the promise of a run in the West End, which he hoped would provide the comeback that he longed for. Unfortunately, the West End did not beckon. Physically exhausted by the grueling schedule, a bitterly disappointed Lugosi quit the tour. After resting and recuperating his strength, he made the film Mother Riley Meets The Vampire and returned to America.
As the years passed by, the facts were forgotten and a myth grew around Lugosi’s time in Britain. According to what became an oft-repeated story, he found himself in a threadbare production with a supporting cast of amateurs who couldn’t remember their lines. After a disastrous opening, the tour quickly folded, leaving an unpaid Lugosi and his wife stranded in Britain. To pay their passage back home, he accepted a hurriedly arranged role in a horror comedy .
For fifty years the myth was accepted as fact, but just a casual study of the trail of evidence left behind by Lugosi and the tour made it obvious that a very different story was waiting to be told. In 2000, after ten years of research, Frank J. Dello Stritto and I were finally able to set the record straight with the publication of Vampire Over London: Bela Lugosi In Britain, our critically acclaimed biography of Lugosi. In addition to the 1951 tour and Mother Riley Meets The Vampire, our exhaustive research unearthed new facts about Lugosi’s other British work – Mystery of the Mary Celeste (1935), Dark Eyes of London (1939) and the elusive Lock Up Your Daughters, the existence of which is still hotly debated.
The original goal of this blog was to:
make available the written and pictorial material amassed during our research.
bring together new material that has emerged since the publication of our book.
continue the research.
As the blog grew and developed, I decided to expanded the goal. My intention now is to try to make this blog the ultimate resource for those interested in the life and work of Bela Lugosi and Bram Stoker’s novel.
If you would like to contribute an article to the blog or if you have any information or memorabilia that you would like included on the blog, please contact Andi Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org All contributions will be credited.
I am indebted to Paul Seiler for generously sharing stills from his extensive collection for use on this blog
Bela Lugosi Filmography – Overview Bela Lugosi Filmography Part 1: 1917 – 1928 – The Silent Years. Bela Lugosi Filmography Part 2: 1929 – 1937 – The Rise and Fall of a Star. Bela Lugosi Filmography Part 3: 1939 – 1948 – The Rebirth Of A Star. Bela Lugosi Filmography Part 4: 1951 – 1959 – The Twilight Years. Bela Lugosi Interviews
The Library – Rare editions of Dracula and books on Bela Lugosi
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A 2nd edition of Vampire Over London: Bela Lugosi in Britain was published by Cult Movies Press in June, 2015. The 2nd edition is a new, improved and expanded version of the original edition, which is long sold out. The new volume contains more first person accounts from people who worked with Bela in 1951, more newly uncovered information and more images. 50% thicker than the first edition, the new 2nd edition is a handsome hardcover with original cover art by renowned artitst Haig Demarjian
Copies of the 2nd edition of Vampire Over London: Bela Lugosi in Britain can purchased from either Cult Movies Press (http://www.cultmoviespress.com) for $30.00 plus $3.99 shipping or directly from Frank J Dello Stritto for $30.00 with FREE shipping. To buy a copy from Frank, either make a PayPal payment of $30.00 to his email at email@example.com or mail him a check at Frank J. Dello Stritto, 644 East 7 ½ Street, Houston, TX 77007..
“Vampire Over London, which is beautifully produced and of a quality we seldom see today, is a model of documentation and informed and entertaining writing. I was so fascinated by it that I gave up virtually an entire weekend to read it. I cannot claim to be a big fan of Bela Lugosi, but the authors’ enthusiasm, clarity and intelligence were such that I was mesmerized as much as any of Dracula’s victims. A magnificent book.”
– Anthony Slide, Classic Images
“In this impressively researched book the authors’ combined sense of detail is remarkable…Dello Stritto and Brooks cover the six months of the touring company with three-dimensional clarity…you can almost smell the cigars Lugosi smoked while standing in the wings.”
– Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog
“Just when you thought everything that could possibly be written about the classic horror stars had already seen print, along comes the fascinating Vampire Over London. It’s an admirable book, written by that rare breed – film historians who actually know how to write…it’s essential.”
– Richard Valley, Scarlet Street
“This tremendous new volume manages to offer a wealth of new information! A must for Lugosi fanatics…the authors have done their research on this subject, and the result is the final word on this portion of Lugosi’s life…It’s a humorous, informative and often touching tribute to a little known slice of Bela’s life.”
– Shock Cinema
“Genre cinema historians Frank Dello Stritto and Andi Brooks perform an invaluable service for Bela Buffs. Their painstakingly researched tome is a book no self-respecting Lugosi lover can afford to be without.”
– The Phantom, Videoscope
“An indispensable tome…exhaustive…Physically, the book is as impressive as the research and writing…will quickly become a collectors item.”
– Tom Weaver, Fangoria
“…a remarkable book…a carefully researched work of scholarship with a concern for accuracy usually reserved for much weightier subjects.”
– Henry Nicolella, Castle of Frankenstein
“A superb piece of literature! I think Bela must be resting in peace at long last in his satin-lined coffin.”
– John C. Mather, Co-Producer of the 1951 British Dracula tour
“A really splendid piece of research, it has to be definitive.”
– Richard Eastham, Director of the 1951 British Dracula tour
“It is a wonderful epitaph for a very special person.”
– Richard Butler, 1951 British Dracula tour cast member
While preparing Vampire Over London: Bela Lugosi in Britain, Frank Dello Stritto and I have conducted extensive research into the life and work of Bela Lugosi and interviewed people who either knew him, worked with him, met him or witnessed him performing on the stage. Our research material has been gathered from archives and individuals in the United Kingdon, Europe, Australia, America, and Canada. We are indebted to the many people who have helped us in our work. I am particularly grateful to Eric Lindsay, who acted opposite Bela Lugosi as Renfield in the British revival of Dracula. His continuing help and encouragement is invaluable.
I am also grateful to the many people who have allowed me to reproduce rare Bela Lugosi photos and memorabilia from their collections. Dennis Phelps has been particularly kind and generous in this respect. His Movie Monster Museum site is highly recommended.
I have also used the Internet for images used on this blog. Unfortunately, it is often impossible to know the origin of much information on the Internet. If I have inadvertently included anything to which you hold the copywrite or which comes from your collection, please contact me, Andi Brooks, at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive credit or to have the item removed.
No researcher works in isolation. I am indebted to all the Lugosi historians who have gone before me and those who continue to research and document his life and work. During the course of my own research I have consulted the following:
The Complete Films of Bela Lugosi by Richard Bojarski (Citadel Press)
A Quaint & Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore (Cult Movies Press) and various magazine articles by Frank J. Dello Stritto
Nightmare of Ecstasy – The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood Jr. by Rudolph Gray (Feral House)
Bela: The Nomad Years, a blog by Bill Kaffenberger
Karloff and Lugosi – The Story of a Haunting Collaboration (McFarland& Co.) by Gregory William Mank
Lugosi (McFarland & Co.) and Dreams and Nightmares (Collectables) by Gary Don Rhodes
Hollywood Gothic (Andre Deutsch) and Dracula – The Ultimate, Illustrated Edition of the World-Famous Vampire Play (St. Martin’s Press) by David Skal
Dracula or The Undead – A Play in Prologue and Five Acts edited by Sylvia Starshine (Pumpkin Books)
Any opinions expressed in the editorial content of Vampire Over London: The Bela Lugosi Blog are solely those of Andi Brooks and should not be taken as reflecting those of either Frank J. Dello Stritto or Cult Movies Press. Andi Brooks is responsible for all errors and omissions.