1953: World Weary

LA Mirror, October 30, 1953

For A Halloween Story, He Went To An Expert

By Bob Thomas

Tonight being the night before Halloween and all that, I decided to pay a call on that famed menace, Bela Lugosi.

As I approached his residence, I thought I recognized the place. It was a dark, old house of the kind you see in Charles Addams cartoons. But I was doomed to disappointment. Lugosi lived next door in a modern apartment.

I rang the bell and Lugosi answered. Another disappointment. No cloak, no devilish appearance. In fact, he was amazingly handsome for his 65 years. He was attired in a dressing robe and puffed a cigar.

“Hey, what are you going to do Halloween?” I asked eagerly.

“I have no plans,” he replied wearily. “I told my agent to find me a TV job, but I haven’t heard from him. I’m open to suggestions—if there is money involved.”

“How about the house next door? It looks nice for haunting.”

“Oh, yes, that.”

“What about holding a wake with Boris Karloff? Are you two on spooking terms?”

“I haven’t seen Boris for two or three years. Yes, we are friends. I started him out on his career as a bogeyman. After I did Dracula at Universal, they wanted me to do the monster in Frankenstein.

“But when I tested the makeup, it was heavy and painful. Then I read the script. I didn’t have a word of dialogue. I got out of the role by having my doctor say it would be bad for me. I suggested Karloff for the role. You might say I created my own Frankenstein Monster—competition for horror roles.”

“But you’ve been able to scare up a good living, haven’t you?”

“I have managed to get by. But it is tough being typed only as a bogeyman. Ever since I did Dracula on the New York stage in 1927. I have been able to do nothing else but menace. Yet I played romantic leads before that. I was the John Barrymore of Hungary.

“Alas, producers cannot see me in anything but horror roles. They say they know I can do other things, but they fear the public will not accept me as anything different.”

Lugosi said the horror circuit is on the upbeat. His future films include The Atomic Monster, The Vampire’s Tomb, and The Ghoul Goes West—I like that last one.

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