February 5, 1906–November 27, 1988
John Carradine as Dracula in House of Dracula (1945)
Born Richmond Reed Carradine, American actor John Carradine was one of the most prolific character actors in the history of Hollywood. Making his acting debut in 1925, his career encompassed the stage, he had his own touring company at one time and appeared on Broadway, radio, TV, on which he made over 100 appearances, and movies. Carradine is known to have made 225 films, but the actor himself said he appeared in over 450. Although there is no supporting evidence, he claimed that, while still an unknown actor, he tested for the title roles in Universal’s adaptations of Dracula and Frankenstein. He did, however play Dracula in three films, Universal’s House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945), and Emabassy Pictures’ Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966). In 1956 he appeared as Dracula in the NBC Matinee Theater adaptation. The production was noteworhty for being both the first presentation of Dracula on television and the first adaptation in colour.
Before establishing himself as a film actor, Carradine had many uncredited roles including appearances in Universal’s Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), The Black Cat (1934) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935).
Carradine replaced Bela Lugosi in Revenge of the Zombies (1943) and co-starred with him in Voodoo Man (1944), Return of the Ape Man (1944) and The Black Sleep (1956). Among the many genre films he made were The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944), The Mummy’s Ghost (1944), Half Human: The Story of the Abominable Snowman (1957), The Unearthly (1957), The Cosmic Man (1959), The Invisible Invaders (1959), The Wizard of Mars (1965), Munsters Go Home (1966), The Astro Zombies (1969) and Blood of Dracula’s Castle (1969).
As in both House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula, Carradine based his stage appearance as Dracula on Bram Stoker’s description rather than the familiar Lugosi image.
Drury Lane Theatre, Chicago