Bela Lugosi Movie Cape Found in Yard Sale

There was much excitement and consternation amongst fans when Bela Lugosi Jr. mysteriously, but unsuccessfully, tried to auction the cape worn by his father in Universal’s 1931 adaptation of Dracula. The asking price of  $1,200,000 scared off any potential buyers in the Icons of Hollywood auction at Profiles in History on December 16th, 2011.

Now another cape said to have once been worn by Lugosi is being offered for sale. Perhaps befitting its uncertain provenance and rather poor condition, it is being auctioned not in the rarefied atmosphere of a famous auction house, but on eBay. It is still likely, however, to cause a great deal of excitement amongst fans and potential buyers. This previously unknown cape was found in a lot of costumes purchased by the vendor at a Hollywood yard sale a year ago. When investigating the possibility of relining the “dusty old cape,” the vendor discovered a United Costumers, Inc. label bearing the faded name of Bela Lugosi sewn into it the seams.

Following some research into the cape’s history, the vendor has established that it was not used in either Universal’s Dracula or Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein, both of which starred Lugosi as Count Dracula. It is currently unknown exactly in which movie Lugosi could have worn it. The vendor has suggested White Zombie (1932), which would make it a very interesting piece, or perhaps Spooks Run Wild, which he made for Monogram Pictures in 1941. As he wore a cape in several other movies, some solid research will have to be conducted to establish its history.  

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Could the cape be the one worn by Lugosi in White Zombie in 1932?

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The cape itself is in need of some preservation to prevent further deterioration. The cream lining is described as “badly worn, stained and distressed through its many decades of use and storage” and “coming away from the bottom seams.” The dark velvet collar is faded and splitting at the seams, while the heavy black woollen material of the cape is “heavily stained and faded with various little tears and holes due to its age and obvious deterioration from warehouse storage.”

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Lugosi wore a cape in several films, including Spooks Run Wild in 1941

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Despite its condition and currently unverifiable history, the chance to own a cape once worn by Lugosi  is a tantalising one. The current bid, with five days to go, is $560. The vendors minimum asking price is unknown, but it will certainly be within the range of more people than the $1,200,000 sought for the Dracula cape. The vendor expressed the hope that the cape “will go to a Lugosi collector who can really appreciate the value of its origins.” (Andi Brooks)

You can place your bid at:

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/320940103071?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEWAX%3AIT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649

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The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicolas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave lustre of mid-day to objects below

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

Bela as Father Christmas with Bela Jr.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick

I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

Santa Vs. Dracula The American International Toy Fair, New York, 1940He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Santa Bela

Bela Lugosi’s Dracula Cape Fails To Sell At Auction

The Dracula cape worn by Bela Lugosi in the 1931 Universal classic film failed to sell in the first session of the Icons of Hollywood auction at Profiles in History on December 16th, 2011. The starting price of $1,200,000 may have been overly optimistic, but the cape wasn’t the only iconic Hollywood artifact that priced itself out of a sale. A pair of Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz scared off potential buyers with its starting price of $2,000,000.

The surprise announcement that Bela Lugosi Jr. was auctioning his father’s cape caused consternation amongst fans. Not only were they mystified by his decision to sell such an important heirloom, which was left him by his mother, Lillian, upon her death in 1981, they also feared that the cape would disappear into the vault of an investor or be buried away in a private collection. 

The cape (Lot 589) wasn’t the only item to be put up for auction by Lugosi Jr. Among various photographs, posters and lobby cards, two were of such a personal nature that his desire to sell them seems even more surprising than his wish to sell the cape. Inscribed, “To the Sweetest Good Mother of  Mine,” a 1905 Hungarian portrait of Bela failed to reach its starting price of $1,000, while a 1940s portrait inscribed by Bela to his wife Lillian sold for $2,250. The highest selling lot was Bela’s own jumbo lobby card from Dracula, which sold for $22,500.

In addition to the lots from Bela’s estate and family, five other items, including photographs from Bela’s own collection, were offered for sale. The most interesting lot, however, was a pair of Bela’s 1930s wingtip shoes, which fetched $1,600.

In remarkable condition, Bela’s wingtip shoes

Bela wearing the shoes at the Hollywood Athletic Club sometime during the 1930s

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Below is a full list of the lots from Bela’s family and estate, with catalogue descriptions and starting and selling prices. (Andi Brooks)

Lot 585

Starting price $1,000 – unsold

Hungarian cabinet portrait ca. 1905. Silver-bromide matte print 4 ¼ “ x 7 ½”on photographer’s imprinted  card-mount. A very early original-period reprint, as it bears Lugosi’s  inscription in the print itself in Hungarian, “To the Sweetest Good Mother of Mine.” 

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Lot 586

Starting price $800 – unsold

Two vintage ca. 1920 Hungarian 3¼”x 5¼” photo-portrait postcards  of Bela Lugosi in striking poses with his facsimile signature, by “Angelo” of  Budapest. From the estate of Lugosi himself, and passed down to his heir. Cards  of this type were marketed to the public as promotions for Lugosi’s early film  and stage work in Europe, where he had already made a significant mark in the  public esteem. Tiny spot of age browning at one corner, else both Very Fine.

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Lot 587

Starting price $1,000 – sold for $1,000

Vintage oversize portrait of Bela Lugosi in his Hollywood study,  ca. 1930 – Silver-bromide 11”x 14” double-weight custom matte print, being a  contemplative portrait of  Bela Lugosi contemporaneous with his role in Dracula,  in the study of his Hollywood home, replete with the infamous nude painting of  Clara Bow which Lugosi kept close at hand until his dying day. This photograph  is from Lugosi’s estate, and passed down to his heir. Excellent condition with  virtually no trace of handling or age.

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Lot 588

Starting price $600 – unsold

Vintage profile portrait of Bela Lugosi, ca. 1930 – Silver-bromide 8”x 10” double-weight custom matte print, being a  stern profile portrait of Bela Lugosi ca. 1930. Print is of an exceptional  photographic quality for its lighting and sharpness of grain. Excellent  original condition; from Lugosi’s estate, and passed down to his heir.

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Lot 590

Starting price $20,000 – sold for $22,500

Dracula near-mint unrestored original Jumbo lobby-card  from Bela Lugosi’s own collection – (Universal, 1931)  14” x 17”original release Jumbo lobby-card  depicting Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, surrounding Helen Chandler with his  signature cape, about to anoint her with his very special “kiss”. This is not  only one of the most vital and essential images to perfectly distill the true  nature of the film, in virtually mint, totally unrestored condition, it was  also for decades, possibly even from the beginning, the property of Bela Lugosi  and passed down to his heir where it has resided to this day. Remnant trace of  scrapbook adhesive on verso margins, and very faint and insignificant handling  lines and background crease are the only signs this extraordinary artifact was  ever touched. Colors are rich and totally unfaded (the jumbo set was printed with  softer colors intentionally than the 11 x 14 set). We are not aware of another  example of this remarkable scene coming to auction previously, let alone an  original poster item of this caliber from Lugosi’s own collection. Authenticity  is beyond question on this exceptional piece. Very Fine to Near Mint.

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Lot 591

Starting price $1,000 – unsold

Vintage oversize portrait of Bela Lugosi full figure in white  linen suit, ca. 1930 – Silver-bromide 11”x 14” double-weight custom matte print, being a  standing portrait of Bela Lugosi in white linen suit with hat and cigar, and a  mischievous “Mona Lisa”smile. From Lugosi’s estate, and passed down to his  heir. Excellent condition with virtually no trace of handling or age.

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Lot 593

Collection of (16) Bela Lugosi portrait stills from his estate and  family’s collection – Mix of original and reprint portrait stills, primarily head-shots  in 8” x 10” size, all from either the estate or family of Bela Lugosi. Majority  are from the 1940’s-1950’s with the William Morris Agency credit slug in lower  margin. All in Very Fine condition.

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Lot 594

Starting price $2,000 – sold for $2,250

Vintage portrait of Bela Lugosi ca. 1940 inscribed by him to his  wife Lillian  – Silver-bromide 8”x 10” double-weight custom matte print being a  very personal, smiling portrait from the 1940’s which Bela Lugosi inscribed in  green fountain pen, “To Lillian- Bela”.  In 1933 Bela married 22-year-old  Lillian Arch, the daughter of Hungarian immigrants.  They had a son, Bela  G. Lugosi, in 1938.  From Lillian’s estate, and passed down to Bela Jr.  Very Fine condition.

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Lot 595

Starting price $300 – sold for $325

Bowery at Midnight original folded U.S.  one-sheet poster from the Bela Lugosi family collection – (Monogram, 1942)  27 x 41 in. U.S. one-sheet poster folded,  for one of Lugosi’s better low-budget “programmers”. He is ably supported here  by a sexy Wanda McKay and a tough, juvenile pre-Detour Tom Neal.  Condition is Good only overall, though it benefits greatly from its provenance  of the Bela Lugosi family collection.

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Lot 596

Starting price $600 – sold for $950

The Return of the Vampire original U.S. Title-card  from the Bela Lugosi family collection – (Columbia, 1943)  Original unrestored U.S. 11 x 14 in. Title  lobby-card for one of Bela Lugosi’s last roles worthy of his talent and  dignity. Good only condition, though colors are rich, with light soiling and  tape around rear margins; its strength is the provenance of Lugosi’s estate.

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Lot 597

Starting price $500 – sold for $550

The Return of the Vampire original U.S. portrait  lobby-card from the Bela Lugosi family collection – (Columbia, 1943) 11 x 14 in. U.S. lobby-card, best portrait  in the set with Bela Lugosi in his signature cape, about to bite the neck of a  lovely young woman. Very decent unrestored condition (handling, and tape on  rear); its great strength is the provenance of Lugosi’s estate.

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Lot 598

Starting price $600 – sold for $850

 Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein original  U.S. Title-card from the Bela Lugosi family collection – (Universal, 1948)  Original unrestored U.S. 11 x 14 in. Title  lobby-card for Lugosi’s finest late-career appearance. Very light soiling from  handling, one pinhole; VG to Fine. From the estate of Bela Lugosi.

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Lot 599

Starting price $300 – sold for $400

Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla original  U.S. half-sheet poster from the Bela Lugosi family collection – (Jack Broder Productions, 1952)  22 x 28 in. U.S. half-sheet  poster, one fold. Film is remembered only for the presence of Bela Lugosi.  Poster is unrestored, in Good to VG condition, and is from the Bela Lugosi  family collection.

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Lot 600

Starting price $300 – sold for $550

Son of Frankenstein 1953 reissue portrait  lobby-card from the Bela Lugosi family collection – (Universal, 1938/ R’53)  Near-mint unrestored 11” x 14”  portrait lobby card of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff from the 1953 Realart  reissue. From the estate of Bela Lugosi.

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