Bela Lugosi Unrealised Projects

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During the course of a career, every actor will either see their name linked to proposed projects that fail to materialize or be involved in projects which collapse. Bela Lugosi was no exception. From roles in films, plays and on TV to novels and records, this page offers a tantalising glimpse of what might have been.

The following is an incomplete list. It will be added to as more details are uncovered.

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The Red Poppy at the Nora Bayes Theater

The Red Poppy opened at the Greenwich Village Theater on December 20, 1922. The ill-fated production lasted for only thirteen performances over a ten-day period. Financial problems are said to have caused the production to fold when the cast were not paid. The press announced that the play would re-open at the Nora Bayes Theater on January 8, 1923. No evidence 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.

The New York call, January 7, 1923

“The Red Poppy,” with Estelle Winwood, recently at the Greenwich Village Theatre, will reopen at the Bayes tomorrow night.

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New York newspaper, January 7, 1923

“The Red Poppy” to Move to Nora Bayes Theatre

Henry Barron will move his comedy drama, “The Red Poppy,” by Picard, to the Nora Bayes Theatre tomorrow night, retaining the original cast, which is headed by Miss Estelle Winwood.

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1931

Frankenstein

From “The Big Book,” Universal Picture’s Campaign Book, 1931-1932 season

Much speculation has been made as to why Bela Lugosi was replace by Boris Karloff as the creature in Frankenstein. His own explanations are unreliable. Perhaps closest  to the truth is that James Whale simply felt that Lugosi, already indelibly linked to the character of Dracula in the minds of many, was not the right actor for his conception of the creature. As recounted in James Curtis’ A New World of Gods and Monsters (University Of Minnesota Press, 2003), interviewer Gavin Lambert recalled Whale’s thoughts on Lugosi in relation to the creature, “He talked about the fact that Lugosi was basically scary and scared audiences, and he said the Monster, in his view – although he could scare people – was also scared.”

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Variety, April 1, 1931

Lugosi Sits High

Hollywood, March 31. On returning from Honolulu, where he went in place of Warner Oland on Fox’s “Black Camel,” Bela Lugosi will probably sign with Universal on a term contract.

Lugosi’s success in “Dracula” is the principal reason for U’s wanting him. The studio has other parts in mind, one of them being in “Frankenstein,” medical melodrama.

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The Film Daily, April 2, 1931

Lugosi in “Frankenstein”

Bela Lugosi, who played the title role in “Dracula,” has been assigned by Universal to play the lead in “Frankenstein,” the thriller which Hamilton Deane is now playing in England and which may possibly be seen in this country on the stage before it appears in pictures. Carl Laemmle, Jr., has placed Lugosi under a long term contract and it is likely that the actor will also play in “The Murders of the Rue Morgue.”

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New York Times, April 5, 1931

FLASHES FROM STUDIOS

THE air at Universal City is thick with rumors about the contemplated productions of “Frankenstein” and Poe’s “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” The real news, though, is limited to the announcement that Bela Lugosi, who played the title role in “Dracula,” will have the lead in Mary Shelley’s macabre story and probably also in the Poe story.

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Courier-Express, April 5, 1931

Bela Lugosi, the star of the screen version of Dracula, will play the principal role in Frankenstein, another thriller, and perhaps in The Murders in the Rue Morgue.

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The Boston Massachusetts Traveler, April 7, 1931

HORROR STUFF

Having made a success of “Dracula,” Universal is going in strongly for macabre subjects. They recently purchased the rights to “Frankenstein,” a blood-curdler now being played on the London stage, and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” Edgar Allan Poe’s horror melodrama. Bela Lugosi, who did so well with the role of Count Dracula, has been assigned the leading role in “Frankenstein.” At present Lugosi is en route to Honolulu where he will join the “Black Camel” company in an important role.

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Variety, April 15, 1931

LUGOSI STAMPED

Hollywood, April 14

Bela Lugosi will be kept in nightmare parts similar to that in “Dracula.” Universal has readers looking for more parts of that type for Lugosi, the readers rummaging through old stories.

Studio already has “Frankenstein” for the actor.

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The Pittsburgh Press, April 19, 1931

Lugosi Signed

The continuous triumphs which have been scored by Bela Lugosi in the title role of “Dracula” have resulted in him signing a long term contract with Universal. This will insure his appearance in “Frankenstein,” the successor to “Dracula” in next year’s Universal lineup. 

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Hollywood Reporter, April 20, 1931

Lugosi Signs With “U” On Long-Term Contract

Bela Lugosi has been put under a long-term contract by Universal. He will put on the make-up for Universal’s “Frankenstein,” after which he will do the leading role in Murders in the Rue Morgue,” adapted from Edgar Allen Poe’s short story of the same title.

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Los Angeles Record, April 22, 1931

Bela Lugosi came back to a surprise after three weeks spent in Honolulu with “The Black Camel” company. His manager signed him on an advantageous long term contract with Universal while he was away. He starts immediately on “Frankenstein,” which will be followed by “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” By the time these two are finished the reading department expects to have some more horror tales run down for the man who made “Dracula” a household word.

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Hollywood Filmograph April 25, 1931

…George Melford will direct “Frankenstein”; Bela Lugosi is the star…

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Los Angeles Times, May 17, 1931

LUGOSI COMPLETES ROLE

Bela Lugosi has completed work in “The Black Camel,” and will begin shortly in “Frankenstein.” Lugosi seems to be the logical actor for such mystery roles, after his success in “Dracula.”

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Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 31, 1931

BELA LUGOSI HAPPY WHEN HE IS WORKING

Bela Lugosi knows what hard work is. He is finishing The Black Camel, and Universal is waiting for him to start shooting on Frankenstein.

“I like to be busy,” he says. “Nothing creates such a joy of living as being active. I recall the dull times when I first came to Hollywood, and producers did not know me, and I rejoice each morning that I hear the early alarm.

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L.A. Record, June 7, 1931

SOMETHING has got to be done for Bela Lugosi. Lugosi has been trying for a week to make a screen test for “Frankenstein.” He has to wear a weird makeup, with two or three different colors, stripes, streaks and striations.

But after a few blasts of hot air, the makeup all fuses together, making him a clown instead of a menace.

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Los Angeles Herald, June 11, 1931

By HARRISON CARROLL

…Due to freak camera work, Bela Lugosi will appear eight feet tall in his forthcoming characterization of “Frankenstein.”

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The New York Times, June 14, 1931

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L.A. Record, June 20, 1931

Bela Lugosi begins work soon on “Frankenstein,” playing the name role at Universal. He is now studying makeup for the part.

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San Diego Union, June 26, 1931

LUGOSI GETTING PADDED UP AS MAD MONSTER

Will Portray Ruthless Giant In Picture Version of Fantastic Tale ‘Frankenstein’

By HUBBARD KEAVY

HOLLYWOOD, June 27 (A.P.) – What probably will be one of the trickiest jobs of makeup since “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” will be seen when the picture “Frankenstein” is released.

Bela Lugosi, in the starring role, will be built up with makeup and padding, to resemble the eight foot superman Mary Goodwin Shelley, wife of poet Percy Shelley, wrote about in 1817.

When Lugosi is made up only his chin and eyes will be visible, grease paint and putty completely hiding the rest of his face. Shoes to which nearly 12 inches have been added will help complete the illusion.

Mrs. Shelley’s fantastic story concerns the creation by a medical student of a man monster.

You can almost imagine what happens when this ruthless giant sets out to have a little fun.

POE PICTURE PLANNED

Another film for fall release should be less disquieting than “Frankenstein” but hair raising nevertheless, is Poe’s “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” It is being changed a great deal from the original in order to bring in a romance.

Its adaptation is being written by the Russian Leo Birinski, who has written “Variety” and “Mati Hari” for the movies.

Birinski believes that motion picture audiences want to see people in idealistic situations, so he is trying to combine his theory with those of Hollywood, the latter consisting of picturing everything as it really is – or almost so.

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Los Angeles Examiner, June 30, 1932

When James Whale finishes “Waterloo Bridge” he will direct “Frankenstein,” famous old thriller which Garrett Fort is adapting for Universal. Whale, who directed the English stage production of “Journey’s End,” was brought to Hollywood for the talkie version of the unforgettable war play. “Frankenstein,” by the way, is one of the weirdest novels in the English language. It was written long before movies were dreamt of, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Bela Lugosi, who played the title role in “Dracula,” is in “Frankenstein.”

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Hollywood Herald, June 30, 1931

James Whale Renews at “U”

As a result of his work on “Waterloo Bridge,” Universal has taken up the option clause in James Whale’s contract. His next will be “Frankenstein,” with Bela Lugosi.

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The Film Daily, July 1, 1931

Hollywood Flashes

By RALPH WILK

James Whale has been assigned by Universal to direct “Frankenstein” next. Garrett Fort has made the adaptation. Bela Lugosi heads the cast.

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Modern Screen, August, 1931

Directory of Players

LUGOSI, BELA; unmarried; born in Lugos, Hungary. Write him at Universal studio. Contract star. Title role in “Dracula,” Universal. Tarneverro in “The Black Camel,” Fox. Tutle role in “Frankenstein,” Universal.

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Photoplay, August 1931

There’s been a lot of conjecture in Hollywood about who would take the place of Lon Chaney on the screen. Lionel Barrymore and Wallace Berry have been mentioned. It’s natural that Metro, where Lon finished his career, should hunt for the successor. But it’s natural, also, that Universal, where Lon started, should be in the running.

And Universal’s choice is Bela Lugosi who made “Dracula” a real box-office wow. Now in “Frankenstein” he’s playing the part of an “unborn” man – one designed by science, an eight-foot monster without sentiment. And only his chin and his eyebrows are to show on the screen.

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New York Times, August 30, 1931

The Universal production of Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” is taking shape under the knowing guidance of James Whale. Boris Karloff and not Bela Lugosi is the final choice to play the monster. Colin Clive has been imported from England to play the role of Frankenstein, the student who builds the semblance of a man out of bits of human wreckage and then, by an extraordinary light ray, endows the creature with life. This was a role which Lon Chaney all his life was anxious to play. Mae Clarke is the tentative choice for the role of Elizabeth. Frederick Kerr will appear as the Baron, Edward Van Sloan as the Professor and Dwight Frye as the Dwarf. John Boles, now recovered from the mishap which kept him out of “Strictly Dishonorable,” has been assigned the role of Victor.

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Western Mail (Perth), September 10, 1931

SCREEN SHORTS.

Lon Chaney’s Place.

There’s been a lot of conjecture in Hollywood about who would take the place of Lon Chaney on the screen. Lionel Barrymore and Wallace Beery have been mentioned.

Universal’s choice is Bela Lugosi who made “Dracula” a real box-office wow. Now in “Frankenstein” he’s playing the part of an “unborn” man-one designed by science, an eight-foot monster without sentiment. And only his chin and his eyebrows are to show on the screen.

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 The New York Times, October 11, 1931

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Modern Screen Magazine, June, 1932

James Whale, Bela Lugosi, Carl Laemmle, Tom Mix

The Grand Old Man of the Producers and some of his henchmen. Left to right: the director, James Whale, Bela Lugosi, Carl Laemmle, and Tom Mix.

(This undated photograph may possibly have been taken in July 1931 when James Whale was assigned to direct Frankenstein with Bela Lugosi still in the cast.)

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The Denison Press, December 8, 1938

Hollywood Filmshop

By ALEXANDER JAHN

HOLLYWOOD (UP) – Among the hazards of filmland is makeup “jitters,” the inability to sit still for hours at the time while experts apply the cosmetics and other tricks of their calling.

Although this may seem only an inconvenience to some people, the torture was so great for one actor that he lost the chance to gain world fame as a “horror” star.

Max Factor, Jr., noted makeup artist, is the authority for this story, which goes back to the days when a studio decided to make the picture “Frankenstein.”

Bela Lugosi, a Hungarian actor who had appeared in many mystery and horror plays on the stage, was to have had the role of the monster. But the part called for him to spend six hours daily having his makeup applied. And Lugosi could not stand the strain.

So Boris Karloff, who had been playing supporting roles in pictures for many years was given the part and became Hollywood’s leading horror-man, while Lugosi was forced to play more or less straight roles.

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Canton Repository, December 20, 1938

Bela Lugosi, Canton Repository, December 20, 1938

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Variety, July 14, 1931

‘HUNCHBACK’ AS TALKER WITH BELA LUGOSI

Universal is giving serious consideration to making the “Hunchback” into a talker special. Bela Lugosi is chiefly responsible, that actor being figured the next best to Lon Chaney who played the title role in the silent version. The picture was U’s greatest money maker.

“Notre Dame” as a talker will probably be at least 50% new and more than that unless a continuity can be devised which would lend itself to proper editing.

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The Telegraph, September 14, 1931

Hollywood Sights and Sounds

By Robbin Coons

 “The Miracle Man,” made more than a dozen years ago, is the picture which “made” three stars at once – Thomas Meighan, in the role of the smooth racketeer, Betty Compson as his beautiful accomplice, and Chaney.

George Bancroft has been mentioned for the Meighan role in the new talking version.

Another star who falls heir to a Chaney role in the current epidemic of re-makes of popular silent films is Bela Lugosi, who may do a talking “Hunchback of Notre Dame” after his success as the weird “Dracula” and his work in “Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “Frankenstein,” yet to be seen.

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1932

The Suicide Club

The Suicide Club, based on a story by Robert Louis Stevenson, was announced in the press as a vehicle for Bela Lugosi. In 1934 the idea was revived by Universal as a vehicle for Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in the wake of their successful pairing in The Black Cat (1934). Although pre-production promotional artwork was published, the film remained unproduced. 

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Dallas Morning News, January 4, 1932

The Suicide Club, Dallas Morning News, January 4, 1932

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San Francisco Chronicle, January 12, 1932

Hollywood Closeups by Grace Kingsley

The Suicide Club, Hollywood Closeups by Grace Kingsley, San Francisco Chronicle, January 12, 1932*

Tampa Tribune, January 15, 1932

The Suicide Club, Tampa Tribune, January 15, 1932*

Seattle Daily Times, January 31, 1932

The Suicide Club, Seattle Daily Times, January 31, 1932

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Modern Screen, July 1932

Lugosi, Bela; unmarried; born Lugos, Hungary, October 20. Universal contract player. Featured role in “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Working in “Suicide Club.” For Universal.

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1933

Tabloid Dracula Tour

There is no evidence to suggest that this tour every took place

Berkeley Daily Gazette, December 23, 1932

U.C. Girl Wins Lead In Stage Production

Miss Caroll Borland, freshman student at the University of California, has been chosen for the leading role of a tabloid version of “Dracula,” to be presented on a road tour shortly after the first of the year, it was learned here today. Miss Borland is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Guy H. Borland of 2819 Park Avenue, Oakland. She has just returned from Hollywood where she was summoned by Bela Lugosi, director of the production for tryouts for “Dracula.”

Competing with Miss Borland for the leading Feminine role in this play, was Marion Marsh, leading lady for John Gilbert and other screen stars.

Miss Borland will spend the holidays in the Bay Region, and between professional engagements will continue her education at the University. Miss Borland has appeared in productions of the University of California Theater and with the Berkeley Playhouse. Her acting won the attention of Lugosi who wired her to go south when he was conducting tryouts, with the result that Miss Borland won the feminine lead for the production.

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 1934

Play produced by O.E. Wee and Jules J. Leventhal

The New York Times, Jan 14 1934

The Messrs. Wee and Leventhal are spending a large part of their time examining plays that might do for The Menace, Bela Lugosi. They are also thinking of a musical version of “Six-Cylinder Love,” the William Anthony McGuire play in which Ernest Truex appeared….

Pitsburgh Post-Gazette, January 16, 1934

Here and There

Wee and Leventhal, the old revivalists, are looking for a play in which to star Hollywood’s boogey man, Bela Lugosi…

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Pagan Fury

Sam J. Warshawsky’s play Pagan Fury was to be the first production of Belian Productions, a production company formed by Bela Lugosi with his wife Lillian. Ultimately, Lugosi was unable to raise the necessary funds to stage the play. Officially incorporated in February 1934, none of  Belian Productions’ proposed productions were realised.

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The New York Times, January 15, 1934

Pagan Fury, The New York Times, Jan 15, 1934*

Motion Picture Daily, January 15, 1934

Lugosi Back to Stage

Bela Lugosi will assume the star role in Sam Warshawsky’s play, “Pagan Fury,” which is slated for spring production.

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Film Daily, January 16, 1934

ACTING UNDER the green spot……..must be gloating glee for that mysterious gent Bela Lugosi……..This stage and screen diabolist……..has just removed himself from “Murder at the Vanities”……..to……..”Pagan Fury”……..a sweet little cut-throat tome……..by that peaceful citizen Sam J. Warshawsky……..who learned playwriting in the RKO publicity department……..Sam’s play opens in Chicago soon……..and as we read his first dittie “The Woman of Destiny”……..we predict that much will be left on the cutting room floor……..after the screen adaptations are made……..

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San Francisco Chronicle, January 31, 1934

Pagan Fury, San Francisco Chronicle, January 31, 1934*

The Film Daily, July 3, 1934

ALONG THE RIALTO WITH PHIL M. DALY

Will the following folks in Hollywood please be so kind as to return play scripts belonging to author Sam Warshawsky……Sam sez he’s darn tired of payin’ typewriter bills for new scripts because folks don’t return the old ones……Lionel Barrymore, Bela Lugosi, Ethel Barrymore, Lowell Sherman, Howard Hughes are some of the folks who wanted to read Sam’s plays……of course if they want to produce ’em……it’s okay with him……otherwise will they give the guy a break and let him have some action?……we once wrote a play, so we know exactly how he feels……

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The Suicide Club and The Return of Frankenstein

The Suicide Club, based on a story by Robert Louis Stevenson, was first mention as a project for Bela Lugosi in 1932. Following the successful teaming of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in The Black Cat (1934), the idea was revived as a another vehicle for the two stars. Although pre-production promotional artwork was published, the film was never made. The Return of Frankenstein was an early title for The Bride of Frankenstein. Lugosi was slated to play a similar role to that eventually played by Earnest Thesiger.

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The West Australian (Perth), June 8, 1934

THE SCREEN’S FIRST ‘HORROR TEAM.’

SO well, are those two eminent screen ‘monsters,’ Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, working together in ”The Black Cat’ that Universal have decided to turn them into what will be the first ‘horror team’ in screen history. Two stories have already been set aside for the attention of Messrs. Karloff and Lugosi. They are ‘The Suicide Club,’ a version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s celebrated romance, and ‘The Return of Frankenstein.’ While Mr. Karloff is, of course, an Englishman, Mr. Lugosi is an Hungarian who learned English to play Dracula on the stage and on the screen— a part which made him famous.

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San Francisco Chronicle, July 11, 1934

The Suicide Club, San Francisco Chronicle, July 11, 1934 Bat Head 3Yahgan

The Times-Picayune, June 15, 1934

Yahgan, The Times-Picayune, June 15, 1934

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Fiarri/Ferrai

Referred to as either Fiarri or Ferrai in the press, the Earl Cortis-scripted play, another production earmarked by Bela Lugosi’s Belian Productions, was to have been directed by Jack Linder. It remained unproduced.

The Advance News, June 28, 1934

TALKIE-TOPICS

Bela Lugosi may return to Broadway this fall in “Fiarri.”

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1935

Mystery-Horror Novel

International News, Los Angeles Bureau, December 3, 1935

BELA LUGOSI “HORROR ACTOR” TO WRITE MYSTERIES

HOLLYWOOD CALIF.

Mystery stories are what the public wants, Donald Friede (l.), member of the Covici-Friede publishing firm of New York City, tells Bela Lugosi, film star famous for his delineation of horror roles. Friede, on a literary scouting trip to Hollywood, has signed Lugosi for a mystery-horror yarn which is expected to keep readers a-quiver when it appears in the near future. This photo shows them perusing Lugosi’s preliminary manuscript.

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Manly Hall Film Projects

In 1935 Lugosi and his friend Manly Hall tried to interest Warner Brothers in several projects which Lugosi hoped would showcase his talents as a classically trained actor. Hall produced treatments for Emperor of Atlantis, Faust, in which Lugosi was to play Mephisto, and The Mysterious Abbe, which was to star Lugosi as a crime-solving French clergyman. Warner Brothers were interested enough in the idea to conduct wardrobe tests, but later dropped the project. 

Wardrobe tests for The Mysterious Abbe

The Mysterious Abbe 1The Mysterious Abbe

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Self-Produced Productions

Cagliostro

Dallas Morning News, September 16, 1935

Bela Lugosi, Dallas Morning News, September 16, 1935*

The Times-Picayune, September 19, 1935

Bela Lugosi, The Times-Picayune, September 19, 1935

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1936

The House of a Thousand Candles

The Film Daily, January 17, 1936

A “LITTLE” from HOLLYWOOD “LOTS”

By Ralph Wilk

Topped with a popular cast, “The House of a Thousand Candles” has gone into production at the Republic studios in Hollywood. Leading roles will be played by Phillips Holmes, Mae Clarke and Bela Lugosi. Others playing important roles in this Republic picture include Rosita Moreno, Fred Walton and Lawrence Grant.

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The Film Daily, January 22, 1936

A “LITTLE” from HOLLYWOOD “LOTS”

By Ralph Wilk

Mischa Auer, Hedwig Reicher and Olaf Hyttten have been added to the cast of “House of a Thousand Candles,” Republic production featuring Bela Lugosi, Mae Clarke and Philips Holmes. Arthur Lubin is directing.

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The Film Daily, January 25, 1936

A “LITTLE” from HOLLYWOOD “LOTS”

By Ralph Wilk

Fighting a bad cold throughout the first week of production, Bela Lugosi was finally forced to withdraw from the Republic feature,  “House of a Thousand Candles,” when complications set in. Irving Pichel has been signed to replace Lugosi.

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 San Diego Union, Febrauary 9, 1936

Phillips Holmes, Mae Clarke and Bela Lugosi top the list of players in Republic’s filmization of “The House of a Thousand Candles”…

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Photoplay Magazine, April, 1936

The Facts of Hollywood Life

Sick List

Influenza kept Lewis Stone in bed two weeks, jerked Bela Lugosi out of “The House of a Thousand Candles,” and sent Gertrude Michael back to bed.

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Dracula’s Daughter

Bela’s involvement with Dracula’s Daughter was first mentioned in the press in 1934. His image featured prominently in concept artwork. Early drafts of the script, which would have explained Dracula’s origins, were abandoned because of censorship issues. Despite a lack of written confirmation, it has been  speculated that Bela was paid as around $4,000 for his cancelled involvement in the film, but the only financial record to have been uncovered is a letter in which Bela agreed to the use of his likeness at no cost to create the unconvincing wax bust which featured in the film.

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The Film Daily, August 18, 1934

A Little from “Lots”

By RALPH WILK

With the wrapping up of “The Return of Chandu,” for Principal Pictures, Bela Lugosi returns to Universal to play the lead in “Dracula’s Daughter.”

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The Evening Independent, September 1, 1934

With the winding up of “The Return of Chandu,” for Principal Pictures, Bela Lugosi returns to Universal to play the lead in “Dracula’s Daughter.”

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New York Evening Post, December 30, 1935

FLICKER FLASHES

Jane Wyatt will be Dracula’s Daughter with Bela Lugosi in his original role as the vampire gentleman, Count Dracula. Eddie Sutherland’s assigned to direct. Miss Wyatt is going to do “Reno in the Fall” for Universal, too, and probably “Strangers at the Feast.”

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Bela visited Gloria Holden on the set

And dined with her in the Universal Studios commisary on February 24th, 1936 

Producer David Diamond, Gloria Holden and Bela

Unknown lady, Bela, producer David Diamond and Gloria Holden

Bela and Gloria Holden

An unconvincing dummy took Bela’s place in the finished film

A tapestry briefly seen in Dracula’s castle bearing Bela’s image is all that remains of R.C Sheriff ‘s original script, which explained how Count Dracula was transformed into a vampire by a wizard.

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1938

The Secret of Treasure Island serial

Daily Variety, January 20, 1938

Don Terry Gets Top Spot In Columbia Serial

Don Terry is set in hero spot for Columbia’s 15-spool serial, The Secret of Treasure Island, starting Monday under direction of Elmer Clifton. Cliffer deals with adventures of a newspaper reporter. Grant Withers and Bela Lugosi also are prominently in the cast. Femme lead is yet to come.

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1939

Karloff and Lugosi radio series

The Pittsburgh Press, January 13, 1939

Friday The Thirteenth

Two creepy people, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, are reported teaming up for a radio horror series. They’re hunting for a scream song.

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The Vampire

Variety, April 26, 1939

Bela Lugosi, who recently finished ‘Dark Eyes of London’ for Argyle Films, sails for New York April 15, but may come back to star in Alexandar Dumas’ ‘The Vampire’ for the same company.

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Home Playhouse

The Times-Picayune, November 28, 1939

Bela Lugosi, The Times-Picayune, November 28, 1939*

The Hammond Times, Hammond, Indiana, December 7, 1939

IN HOLLYWOOD

HOLLYWOOD, Dec. 7.—Hollywood’s first “horror theater,” patterned after the Grand Guignol of Paris, and to be known as Petite Guignol, will be construed by Bela Lugosi in the basement of the new home he is to build in the San Fernando valley.

Lugosi, who created the role of Count Dracula on the New York stage and later in pictures, has long desired to organize and direct a playhouse where short sketches dealing with the occult, magic and metaphysics could be presented.

Under the plans outlined by Lugosi the playhouse will be decorated in weird designs dealing with the occult and the entrance will be through an underground tunnel suggestive of the catacombs.

Original plans will be produced in the theater and young actors and actresses striving for a foothold in the theater and in pictures will be given an opportunity to display their talents. There will be no salaries for the players, director or others connected with the venture, and admission money will be used for actual expenses.

Lugosi plans to invite other players interested in the venture to act as a board of directors on the project, and Dr. Manley P. Hall, noted lecturer and writer, already is working on playlets for the group.

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Barkley Davis Projects

Bela Lugosi bought the rights to The Howling Death, A werewolf story written by Barkley Davis, and co-wrote The Sect of the Assassins with Davis.

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1940

Karloff and Lugosi musical

St. Petersburg Times, August 24, 1940

Univ. is juggling the notion of co-starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in a musical…

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Film adaptation of John F. Mauro’s Rhapsody in Death

Ogdensburg Journal, October 26, 1940

HIGHLIGHTS FROM LATEST BOOKS

If you’re looking for Halloween chiller-thrillers, John F. Mauro’s “Rhapsody in Death” (Fortuny $2) probably will fill all the requirements for keeping you awake on the night the ghosts walk. An insane scientist, firebreathing hounds, murders in quantity provide the excitement. Bela Lugosi, of the movies, wrote the introduction, probably will portray the fiend if and when this makes the screen.

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The novel was never filmed, but Bela did write the preface:

Mr. Mauro has spun an admirable fantasy in his Rhapsody in Death. I could not sleep until I had finished reading it – and then I could not sleep. Such is the hypnotic grasp it exerts on the imagination.

In one sense it is quite understandable that I should find it a fascinating story. I have a natural and inborn affinity for the slightly weird and morbid. As a small boy in Transylvania, I heard many tales of vampires, werewolves, and other strange animals and monsters of the dark. I listened, not unfrightened, but enthralled and spell bound.

This peculiar allergy to things supernatural has its origin in that strange race of people of whom I am part – the Magyars. We accept it as neither fortune nor misfortune, but merely as fact, that there are no others in Europe like us. When we are happy, we are always a little sad. As we love the mysterious because we understand it and feel its influence in our lives. To us, it is very real and tangible. It is part of the psychology of all Transylvanians.

Yet, for all of my natural sympathies, it has become second nature with me to view weird drama with the calculating eye of an expert. Starting with the stage and screen versions of Dracula, I have frequently played strange and mysterious characters, vested with super-natural and incredible powers. Thus, for some years past such stories have been the mainstay of my livelihood, and, perforce, I have read them by the score.

So, as both an expert and as a lover of these exciting tales, I pay tribute to Rhapsody in Death as an outstanding work, constructed with good craftmanship and adequate suspense. It should succeed admirably as a book, a play or a motion picture.

It is not often that an actor writes prefaces for books. Therefore, I plead indulgence, for I must express in a language that is not my own. I sincerely hope that Mr. Mauro’s book will have the success that it merits, and that the fine and horrible characters that he has conceived will come to be known by all who appreciate a good yarn gruesomely told.

B.L.

Bat Head 2

1941

The Monster of Zombor

From Universal Picture’s Campaign Book, 1940-1941 season

Bat Head 3

Arsenic and Old Lace Tour

 Rockford Register-Republic, September 3, 1941

Short true story: Here’s a yarn that proves my old contention that an actor, in spite of everything, is always an optimist. A year ago Bela Lugosi, the scare expert, was hard-pressed for money and having great difficulty finding a job. Then his luck turned and he was cast in several pictures. Not long ago, Bela was offered a roadshow lead in “Arsenic and Old Lace,” the sensational stage hit played by Boris Karloff in New York. It was a swell offer and Lugosi was ready to sign – when he noticed a clause compelling him to stick for “the run of the play.” That scared him. He turned down the job – because he feared the show would be such a success that it might keep him from pictures too long!

Bat Head 3

Dracula Tour

Reading Eagle, November 24, 1941

Hollywood Shots

By Jimmy Fidler

Bela Lugosi has been inked for a two-year tour of 124 cities in the stage play “Dracula.”

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Angel Street

In a 1948 interview Bela Lugosi spoke of his regret at turning down the lead in the play Angel Street. The play, which was originally called Gas Light when it premiered in England, premiered on Broadway at the John Golden Theatre on December 5th, 1941 with Vincent Price in the leading role.

Vauderville, Springfield Union, September 15, 1948

Bat Head 2

1944

Appearance on Creeps By Night radio show

The Pittsburgh Press, February 11, 1944

Karloff to Launch Own Radio Spook Series

Lugosi and Lorre To Be ‘Partners In Crime’

By SI STEINHAUSER

Are you among the mourners of “Lights Out?” Have you been crying in the night because there were no bedtime mysteries to keep you awake and give you nightmares? You’ll be sorry. No less a bad man than Boris Karloff is coming to radio with his own show and the title is enough without a program: “Creeps By Night.”

Movieland’s No. 1 horror will narrate and star in a series to be launched next Tuesday night at 10:30 following an otherwise grand evening of swell comedy. To give it as bloodthirsty a beginning as he can think up he has chosen for his first broadcast “The Voice of Death,” the story of the voice of a dead man which guides his widow to the commission of murders by wholesale.

After that Mr. Karloff will summon Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre, Laird Cregar, Raymond Massey and other “partners in crime” to the mike, to make things as bad as possible, in a spooky sort of way. Mark down as sucker No. 1 for mystery stories this guy, who’d give up his sleep for a Karloff broadcast.

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Rockford Morning Star, February 20, 1944

Creeps By Night

There’s a new chiller series on WROK-Blue every Tuesday night at 9:30. Boris Karloff is starred in “Creeps By Night.” Karloff’s guests in weeks to come include Bela Lugosi, Laird Cregar and Peter Lorre.

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Winnipeg Free Press June 12, 1944

New Series To Feature Creepy Mystery Stories

A new series of stories, taken from the book, The World’s Finest Mystery Stories, edited by Dashiell Hammett, will be presented over the Blue network starting Tuesday, and will be heard over the Dominion network of the CBC and carried by CKRC at 9.30 p.m.

Entitled Creeps by Night, this series features Boris Karloff, and a cast drawn from the top ranks of radio actors. During the following weeks, guest stars such as Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre. Laird Cregar, Raymond Massey and others will appear on the programme.

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The Gold Bug for Monogram Pictures

Seattle Daily Times, February 21, 1944

The Gold Bug, Seattle Daily Times, February 21, 1944

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Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 14, 1944

The Gold Bug, Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 14, 1944

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1945

Don Marlowe Stage Show

This production is not believed to have taken place.

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.

Bat Head 2

1946

Mysterioso Record Series

The Billboard, July 20, 1946

Musicraft Eyes Disk Package Propositions

HOLLYWOOD, July 13. – Something new in record albums has been cooked up by radio scripters Merwin Gerard and Seelig Lester, who have written material to be narrated by movie spookster, Bela Lugosi, and tagged Mysterioso. Platter idea is now in negotiation stage with Musicraft Records and will probably be waxed in series of eight 12-inch records.

Script idea calls for a series of “mood” horror tales, each one dealing with another phase of violence, chills or sudden death. Lugosi narration should be backed by theme music in keeping with spine-chilling format. Musicraft also is reported dickering with MCA for a similar package idea under which MCA will supply talent, music and writers for the series.

Bat Head 2

1947

Production of Dracula in Hopkinsville, Kentucky

Kentucky New Era, August 7, 1947

LET’S BACK THIS

Speaking of cultural entertainments it is possible that Bela Lugosi, the bad man of the screen, will visit Hopkinsville some time in the fall, and under the sponsorship of guess who? The Junior Chamber of Commerce!

This up-and-coming organization you will remember, sponsored the excellent performance of “Life With Father” last year, and through their enterprise they have been offered a performance of Bela Lugosi in “Dracula.”

If there is enough interest they will bring it to the stage of the Hopkins High Schoool auditorium. If you would like to see this famous actor in the well-known play, please let Melburn Keith know, and if enough folks are interested, it will be done.

Bat Head 2

1948

London theatre production of Dracula and two Universal Dracula films

August 29th, 1947

September 26th, 1947 (1)

September 26th, 1947

September 26th, 1947 (2)

October 2nd, 1947

Schenectady Gazette, October 9, 1947

Voice of Broadway

By Dorothy Kilgallen

Can London take it? Bela Lugosi is sailing for England shortly to revive his famous “Dracula” role there.

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Berkeley Daily Gazette, Berkeley, California, February 5, 1948

HEDDA HOPPER’S HOLLYWOOD

by Hedda Hopper

Bela’s Last Horror

Bela Lugosi swears Brain of Frankenstein will be his last horror picture; but he will have  one more fling at Dracula on the London stage. Then, of all things, he will do four weeks of Harvey. That can only be matched by Boris Karloff, another horror man, who did kindly old Gramps in On Borrowed Time last year.

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Variety, February 4, 1948

Bela Lugosi leaves April 15 for London to open a revival of “Dracula”.

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The Evening Independent, March 4, 1948

“Horror” Pictures Hit Upswing in Hollywood

By BOB THOMAS

HOLLYWOOD – (AP) –  Two of the screen’s ablest boogymen, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney, are planning projects to satisfy the most eager of horror fans.

Both are currently scaring the wits out of Abbott and Costello in “A. and C. Meet Frankenstein,! and Lugosi reports that U-I is mulling two subjects based on his “Dracula” portrayal. “There is enough material in the original novel for half a dozen pictures,” the Hungarian actor told me. Meanwhile, he plans to take the famed blood-sucker to London for an eight-week stage run this summer.

Chaney is organizing his own producing company with Curt Siodmak, top writer of gruesome scripts. They plan to create new characters “more horrible than any yet seen on the screen.” I can hardly wait.

(Note: Bela would eventually take Dracula to Britain in 1951.)

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The Morning Herald (Gloversville and Johnstown N.Y.) May 6, 1948

Erskine Johnson’s

IN HOLLYWOOD

Promised but not hoped for: A remake of “Dracula,” starring Bela Lugosi.

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Harvey

Berkeley Daily Gazette, Berkeley, California, February 5, 1948

HEDDA HOPPER’S HOLLYWOOD

by Hedda Hopper

Bela’s Last Horror

Bela Lugosi swears Brain of Frankenstein will be his last horror picture; but he will have  one more fling at Dracula on the London stage. Then, of all things, he will do four weeks of Harvey. That can only be matched by Boris Karloff, another horror man, who did kindly old Gramps in On Borrowed Time last year.

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San Mateo Times, San Mateo, California, March 4, 1948

LIFE IN HOLLYWOOD

by Bob Thomas

 Hollywood, Mar. 4—(AP)—Bela Lugosi plans to play in Harvey next fall. “I will give a slightly different interpretation of the role,” he said, uttering the understatement of the week.

Bat Head 3

A vampire film with Bela Lugosi Jr.

Schenectady Gazette,March 19, 1948

Voice of Broadway

By Dorothy Kilgallen

Gruesome note: Bela Lugosi will appear in a film with his young son, who will play a brat-aged Dracula.

Bat Head 3

Magic stageplay & Abbott and Costello film

In an interview for the Springfield Union, Lugosi spoke  of his hopes to appear in a play called Magic on Broadway and a second film with Abbott and Costello.

Springfield Union, September 15, 1948

Vauderville, Springfield Union, September 15, 1948

Bat Head 2

1949

Strange Deception

The Billboard, April 23, 1949

Ink Hampton White For “Dracula” Lead

HOLLYWOOD, April 16. – Hampton White, former leading man with the Lend an Ear company on the West Coast, has been signed to do the leading role in a road company of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula.

White formerly did leads with Brunk’s Comedians in Texas and for two years appeared with Captain Reynold’s Majestic Showboat on the Ohio River as a leading man.

Following the road tour of Dracula, White will go into Lugosi’s picture, Strange Deception the first feature film to be made in third dimension.

Bat Head 3

Surprise Theater

The Billboard, July 16, 1949

Spots Talent And Low Cost

HOLLYWOOD, July 9. – Top talented tele shows, developed and packaged by the William Morris Agency, will be made available at bargain rates to local video ops and bankrollers under a kine audition plan currently being set up. Designed to give lively network tele prospects a test run and kine audition, the Morris office will spotlight shows locally at “below cost” rates, seeking in return only guarantees of good production and quality kines. Agency thus hopes to build a library of kined audition films which can be used by sales staff in peddling shows to national bankrollers.

To be called Surprise Theater, stations or bankrollers will be taxed only for the actual cost of sets, costumes and production, plus a probable minimum talent fee. Name talent will waive usual high fees thus enabling the station to carry the series as a prestige sustainer or to peddle to bankrollers as a low-cost packaged deal.

Among shows earmarked for Surprise Theater are packages featuring following Morris office clients: Billie Burke, Sterling Hollaway, Zasu Pitts, Marcy McGuire, El Brendel, Bela Lugosi, Pinky Lee and Actors Lab and Pasadena Playhouse dramatic orgs. All shows will be one-showing deals only and the Morris office retains exclusive rights despite preem test runs.

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The Billboard, August 6, 1949

KNBH Set To Air Wm. Morris Pkg.

HOLLYWOOD, July 9. – Deal was set this week for KNBH, National Broadcasting Company (NBC) Coast tele station to beam the William Morris Agency packaged series, Surprise Theater, beginning late in August (The Billboard, July 16). Agency will provide the video outlet with top talent packages at no cost to KNBH, with station assuming only production charges. Morris office will kinescope each show for audition and sales purposes, using KNBH facilities for showcasing proposed commercial segs.

At least 15 different packages will be aired during half-hour weekly slot, including shows featuring such names as Zasu Pitts,  Pinky Lee, Bela Lugosi, Billie Burke, Sterling Hollaway, El Brendel and Marcy McGuire. If charged regular commercial kine rates, shows would cost Morris $250 a frame for recording facilities; if kine is provided at cost, nut will be even cheaper.

Bat Head 2

1951

Australian Dracula Tour

Variety, October 3, 1951

Bela Lugosi being dickered for Australia and offered year’s work to open at Sydney with “Dracula” sometime in January.

Bat Head 2

1952

TV Series

Advocate, February 26, 1952

Lugosi Will Haunt TV

Channel Chatter: Bela Lugosi is back un the U.S. after a long stay in England and will face the TV cameras in a new horrors-and-shivers series.

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British Films With Boris Karloff

Omaha World Herald, April 27, 1952]

Karloff, Lugosi Again Team in Horror Films

Hollywood, Cal. (NEA) – Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, whose blood-curdling movies grossed a fortune for Universal, are being re-teamed in two horror films to be produced in London by George Minter.

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The proposed teaming of Lugosi and Karloff was reported in several newspapers under Erskine Johnson’s byline during March of 1952, but by May the idea seemed to have been dropped

Ogdensburg Journal, May 31, 1952

In Hollywood

By Erskine Johnson

Horror fans eager for a reteaming of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi can stop having those nightmares. Neither Boris or Bela are eager for it.

As Karloff sees it, “Our pictures made a lot of money. But Bela and I both lost something as individual actors.”

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British Film

In June 1952, Lugosi told reporter Bob Thomas that he was to return to England to make an un-named film, possibly a sequel to Mother Riley Meets The Vampire, which he made during his almost eight months in England during 1951 after touring in a revival production of Dracula.

The Milwaukee Journal, June 2, 1952

The Milwaukee Journal June 2, 1952

Kindly Lugosi Is Star Bogey Man, Finds It’s Fine for the Bank Roll

By BOB THOMAS

Hollywood, Calif. – (AP) – Like his fellow horror expert, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi is a courteous, soft spoken fellow who takes his craft seriously. He fell into the horror line quite by accident.

He was a romantic star of the Royal theater in Hungary, playing the original roles in such Ferenc Molnar plays as “Liliom” and “The Guardsman.” But he came to New York in the chiller “Dracula.” When he re-created the role in films, he was destined to a career of scaring people. Since he had played everything from Shakespeare to Byron, I asked if he objected to being typed.

“No, not at all,” he replied. “The main thing for an actor is to keep working. And I have managed to do so for a good many years. It is a kind of security, this being a horror man. I have just returned from playing ‘Dracula’ in England for eight months. I also made a picture over there.

“I have appeared on television with Milton Berle and a dozen other shows. Now I am filming ‘Bela Lugosi Meets the Gorilla Man,’ which is not bad publicity. I am to return to England for another picture and I am talking about a television series. So you can see I have been busy.

Far from regretting his horror tag, Lugosi is even sorry he didn’t sew up the field. He had the chance after he made his hit in “Dracula.”

“They wanted me to play the part of Frankenstein’s monster,” he recalled. “I even did a test for it. The make-up was terrible, with the rubber mask and putty and the padding choking my body. Then I saw the script. I didn’t have a line in the whole picture!.

“I didn’t want to do it. I figured they could get any truck driver to put on all that stuff and grunt through the part. So I told them I wouldn’t do it. At first they were angry, and then I told them my doctor advised against such a strenuous part.

“They said they would let me out of the part if I could dig up someone to do it. So I looked around and found Boris Karloff. He did the role, and of course it was a hit. I created my own Frankenstein monster by turning down the part.”

Lugosi stayed at Universal for several years, playing in other horror films and co-starring with Karloff in many of them. He said that several years ago the studios weren’t making horror films, so he went to the east to live. He performed in plays and in vaudeville. Now horror seems to be blossoming forth in Hollywood again, and Lugosi is again a California resident. He may build a home for himself, his wife and their 14 year old son.

I asked him if people expect him to scare them in private life.

“Sometimes,” he answered, “But they are generally good natured about it. For instance, children will come up and say, ‘Hello, bogey man.’ But they aren’t really frightened. Children know when someone is gentle, no matter what he is made out to be.

Bat Head 2

1953

The Phantom Ghoul/The Ghoul Goes West

You asked for it 4Bela Lugosi discussing The Phantom Ghoul and Dr. Acula with Art Baker on the You Asked For It TV show

The Phantom Ghoul, later referred to as The Ghoul Goes West, was a proposed Ed Wood vehicle for Bela Lugosi. In an appearance on the You Asked For It TV show on July 27, Bela Lugosi told host Art Baker that he would shortly be filming The Phantom Ghoul in 3D.

Bat Head 3Dr. Acula

The brainchild of Ed Wood Jr, Dr. Acula was a proposed TV series which was never realised. Bela Lugosi spoke about it during an appearance on the You Asked For It TV show on July 27.

Bat Head 3

Appearance at proposed Grand Guignol theatre in Boston

Boston Daily Record, August 31, 1953

Theatre, Boston Daily Record, August 31, 1953

Bat Head 3

The Return of the White Zombie

Rockford Morning Star, December 3, 1953

Dorothy Manners on Hollywood

Bela Lugosi handed me a laugh when he called to say he’s returning to England to make “The Return of the White Zombie.”

“A movie,” chuckled Bela, “not a drink.”

J. Arthur Rank is the producer, and he told Lugosi that the original “White Zombie” they made together had been one of his company’s big moneymakers throughout the world.

For the past year, Bela has been playing “Dracula” on the London stage and returned to Hollywood for just a brief time. 

Bat Head 2

1954

The Vampire’s Tomb

Trenton Evening News, July 8, 1952

Atomic Monster, Trenton Evening News, July 8, 1952

Los Angeles Times, August 31, 1954

MORE BELA LUGOSI FILMS ON PROGRAM 

Producer Edward Wood Jr., who is also directing “The Vampire’s Tomb,” with Bela Lugosi as the male star and Vampira as one of the principal players, has arranged for Lugosi to do six more features, the second to be filmed at Sedona, Ariz. This will be a spooky western, as yet untitled, which Wood has written. 

The Vampire's  Tomb Script 1

The Vampire's  Tomb Script 2

The Vampire's  Tomb Script 3

The Vampire's  Tomb Script 4

The Vampire's  Tomb Script 5

The Vampire's  Tomb Script 6

The Vampire's  Tomb Script 7

Bat Head 21955

The Ghoul Goes West/The Phantom Ghoul

Bela in hospital 7Bela Lugosi with a copy if the script for The Ghoul Goes West in the grounds of the Metropolitan State Hospital

The Ghoul Goes West was a proposed Ed Wood vehicle for Bela Lugosi who had previously announced the film under the title The Phantom Ghoul on the You Asked For It TV show in 1953.  In its April 25, 1955, edition, the Los Angeles Times (See article below) announced that Lugosi had received a copy of the script while in the Metropolitan State Hospital where he was undergoing a ninety-day treatment for his addiction to prescription drugs. In an August 1, 1955 TV interview, Bela Lugosi said that it would be his first film project after his discharge.

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 Los Angeles Times, April 25, 1955

FILM FRIENDS TO HELP LUGOSI IN DOPE FIGHT

Bela Lugosi, whose horror movies never matched the terrors of his 20-year fight against the dope habit, yesterday in General Hospital took a first step toward rehabilitation.

The veteran 72 year old portrayer of such characterizations as Dracula, the White Zombie and the Batman had walked into the psychiatric ward of the hospital last Thursday asking for help in his personal fight.

Yesterday the medical care he was receiving was augmented by a helping hand from the show business he has been a part of for more than 50 years.

PREMIERE

He was told arrangements are being made for a lavish Hollywood premiere of the last movie he made, Bride of the Atom, and the proceeds will go to him. The actor was destitute when he committed himself Thursday.

And he was given the script for his next picture, The Ghoul Goes West, production of which has been postponed until Bela has recovered entirely from drug addiction and is ready to work again.

Bearer of the tidings and the script was Tony McCoy, young producer of Lugosi’s last film, who promised to hold up the shooting of his next one until Bela can star in it.

Arrayed behind McCoy when he broke the news to Lugosi were members of both cast and crew of the star’s last film from Director Ed Wood and leading players to property men and grips.

Deeply touched by the obvious respect and devotion showed by this little segment of show business, Lugosi wept unrestrainedly in his bed. In a voice choked by emotion he said:

“This is so heart-warming, such a miracle. I cannot believe it. To know that people have such faith in me is better than medicine. I will not let them down.”

“The premiere of Bride of the Atom the first week in May will be in the heart of Hollywood, Bela, with all the trimmings, lights and all,” Producer McCoy told Lugosi. “The proceeds will go into a trust fund and you will draw from it weekly.”

“I plan to shoot your next one starting June 1, but I’m putting it back until you’re able to star in it. That’ll be your comeback picture.”

“I have made up my mind now,” Lugosi said, “I had never made my mind up before to leave the drugs alone. Now that it is made up it becomes a law. I will need time in the hospital. I mean to take the time and do it right. They had me on the hook. I mean to dehook myself.”

Other players who worked with Lugosi in his last film explained why the veteran Hungarian actor star was so popular with the cast and crew.

“It was his gracious charm and his willingness to help us, said Don Nagel, Loretta King and Tor Johnson. “He was a perfect trouper all during production. We want him to the finish and we’re waiting for him to rejoin us.”

When his general physical condition improves, Lugosi will be transferred to Metropolitan Hospital in Norwalk for completion of treatment.

He has explained that he began using drugs 20 years ago because of pains he suffered in his legs and never managed to break the habit.

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Bela in hospital 8Bela Lugosi with a copy if the script for The Ghoul Goes West in the grounds of the Metropolitan State Hospital

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Los Angeles Times, August 4, 1955

BELA LUGOSI PLANS QUICK

RETURN TO MOVIE WORK

Dracula Portrayer Expects to Complete Treatment for Dope Addiction Tomorrow

Dracula is going back before the motion picture cameras again. Even as Bela Lugosi awaited release tomorrow from Metropolitan State Hospital, Norwalk, where he has been successfully treated for drug addiction, the one-time Dracula-man revealed that he plans to start work on a new picture August 20.

“The title,” Dracula said with a leer, “is The Ghoul Goes West. It’s very cute.”

During his three month rehabilitation, while he studied the forthcoming script, Lugosi spoke feelingly of the hundreds of letters he has received from all over the world.

People Show Interest

People learning of his fight against the dope habit wrote to him from South Africa, France, Turkey, all parts of the United States, even from behind the Iron Curtain.

“A Lt. Smith in the Army even telephoned me from Japan,” the actor marveled, “just to tell how brave he thought I was in going through with this thing. I don’t even know the man.”

His step, strong and healthy, his voice firm and the familiar eyes as piercing as ever, Lugosi has come back a long way from the addict who barely could walk at the time of his commitment three months ago.

The desire to act again plus the letters of encouragement were what helped him over the rough spots. “I could not have done this alone,” he said.

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Bela in Hospital 9Bela Lugosi with a copy if the script for The Ghoul Goes West in the grounds of the Metropolitan State Hospital

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Kentucky New Era, August 4, 1955

Treatment For Drug Addiction Nears End

Norwalk, Calif. (AP) – Rehabilitated Bela Lugosi will leave Metropolitan State Hospital Friday and start work on a new movie in two weeks. He was treated for three months for drug addiction.

The 66-year-old actor, his step firm, his voice firm, and his eyes as piercing as ever, has come a long way back from the emaciated addict who could barely walk when he was committed to the hospital at his request.

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Los Angeles Times, August 6, 1955

BELA LUGOSI LEAVES HOSPITAL TO BEGIN

MOVIE COMEBACK

Norwalk, Aug. 5 — Actor Bela Lugosi, self-committed three months ago for drug addiction, today left Metropolitan State Hospital with a firm resolution “Not to disappoint my new-found friends.”

The friends were the “thousands” who wrote to the movie “Dracula” during his rehabilitation and expressed faith in his ability to overcome the drug habit.

“I’m not going to disappoint those people,” Lugosi declared as his picked up his small suitcase and prepared to leave the hospital.

He was met there by his divorced wife, Lillian, and their son, Bela Lugosi, Jr., 18. The 66-year-old actor will stay with a nephew.

SET FOR FILM

In two weeks, Lugosi will start work on a role in the film, The Ghoul Goes West. He has been studying his part at the hospital.

Tuesday Lugosi was pronounced fit to leave the hospital by a board of medical examiners. During his stay he put on 20 pounds and lost the emaciated appearance he had when he entered.

“I’m no longer addicted to drugs,” he commented. “I’ve licked a habit of 20 years and I’m a happy man again.”

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Bela and Hope wedding dayBela Lugosi and Hope Lininger on their wedding day.

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Los Angeles Mirror-News, August 24, 1955

BELA LUGOSI TO WED TONIGHT

Hospital Stay Leads To Romance With Fan

by Frank Laro, Mirror-News Staff Writer

Back in 1931 a schoolgirl crouched down fearfully in a movie-theater seat in Johnstown, Pa.

All around her were girls her age—they gasped and applauded when their celluloid appeared on the silver screen,

They were Clark Gable, Ronald Colman and Cary Grant.

But this teen-ager had a hero all her own. The ones who applauded and shrilled over Gable, Cooper, Colman and Grant are living comfortable today with guys they met in the audience, not on the screen.

The little girl who sat all by herself in that dark theater has seen a strange dream come true.

Tonight, Hope Lininger, 40, a cutting-room clerk at RKO Studios, will be married to the dream that other girls her age in 1931 thought a nightmare.

Miss Lininger tonight will become the bride of Bela Lugosi, 73, released a few weeks ago from Metropolitan State Hospital at Norwalk, pronounced cured as a drug-addict.

In 1931 he was the sinister “Dracula,” a cape-clad vampire, and he never really escaped from such horrendous roles. A type, they said. And that he was.

The romance of Miss Lininger and Bela Lugosi is one of the strangest in the history of the movies and the theater.

“When I was a little girl, and even when I got older, I didn’t have much to do with boys,” Hope remembers.

“I had a very unhappy home, a variety of stepfathers, no brothers, and I lived alone most of the time.”

“I chose Bela Lugosi when I saw him in Dracula as my hero. That was because I wanted someone all to myself. I knew the other little girls would never be Lugosi fans. I felt this was a hero I had all to myself.”

Hope, whose marriage to Lugosi will be at the home of Manley P. Hall, writer and publisher of books and pamphlets as transcendental as the romance he will sanctify, confesses that she is astounded by the quirks of fate that have brought her to the altar.

“There was, of course, the fact that I was a fan of his while I was a little girl,” she puzzles. “But, then when he got in trouble I felt he was such a stray sheep. I think no one can ever accuse me of being a gold digger.”

“He doesn’t have a dime and no one but me wants him. If he doesn’t want to work that is all right with me. I have a job.”

“He needs help and I think I can give it to him.”

Hope, who has worked at the RKO studios for 10 years, says she had another personal interest in Lugosi’s destiny.

“There was a background in my life of people who suffered from narcotics, the way he did,” she says.

When Lugosi went to Norwalk, Hope started writing him letters. One a day. They were long—sometimes eight pages—and were crowded with the details of what she considered a humdrum life.

She never attached her name to the letters. “Just a Dash of Hope,” they were signed.

The great actor, who confesses now he was particularly intrigued by the anonymity of the letters, says:

“This was definitely someone I had to find. Here was a fan—and there have been many foolish letters in my fan mail—who professed to love me for 20 years. She had never written before.”

“I was struck by the fact she wrote me only when I got in trouble.”

When Lugosi got out of the hospital he searched for Hope. He didn’t know her name. He had only her address.

“But I finally found her. I got her on the telephone. I asked her to come and see me.”

“When she came in the house I wondered. She was an attractive woman. What was her angle, I wondered. After all, I know I have no money, my youth is gone and I am a sick man.”

“But then I considered that she had written me every day during those terrible months I spent in the hospital. It dawned on me, suddenly, that she believed in a Higher Power I believed in, too.”

“After I met her I realized she belonged to my class. She has sophistication and education. We speak the same language.”

Lugosi, who is as astonished as Hope about their romance and marriage, accounts for it partly because he feels lonesome.

“I miss a family life,” he says. “I am devoted to my son, Bela, Jr., who is 18. He is just as devoted to me.”

Lugosi confesses to a lingering love for his ex-wife, Lillian, 43, who divorced his in 1953.

“It was a terrible history of alcoholism, and finally, addiction to drugs,” the actor says.

“But my son, my son, what have I done to him.” He exclaims. “But, I know he still loves me.”

Lugosi and Miss Lininger obtained their marriage license this morning.

The marriage will be performed tonight at Hall’s home before a small group of close friends.

They plan no immediate honeymoon but will journey to New York late next month where Lugosi will testify before a subcommittee of the U. S. Senate on drug addiction.

He has optimistic expectations that he will soon return to stardom on the screen and is now studying a script, The Ghoul Goes West, which will be produced independently of the big studios.

“Just another one of those things,” he calls it.

“My life is about ended, but it is a great thing to be able to say that while I have life there is Hope.”

*

Boston Daily Record, September 26, 1955

The Ghoul Goes West, Harrison Carroll, Boston Daily Record, September 26, 1955

*

Prensa, October 10, 1955

The Ghoul Goes West, Prensa, October 10, 1955

Bat Head 2

1956

Memoirs

State Times Advocate, March 5, 1956

A New York publisher is urging Bela Lugosi to write his memoirs.

Bat Head 3

2 responses to “Bela Lugosi Unrealised Projects

  1. I love Lugosi and your site! Lots of great insight into the personal side of this great actor.
    Whatever happened to Bela’s last wife, Hope. ? Is she still living?
    Has she ever given any interviews about her time with Bela? If she is still with us, I would love to contact her. It seems like she vanished from the face of the earth.
    Thank you
    David Jendrycki
    Chicago

    Like

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