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By Steve McGarry
Oct 21, 2012
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Bela Lugosi

Born on October 20, 1882, in Lugos, in what was then Austria-Hungary but is now Romania, Bela Lugosi served as an infantry lieutenant in the first World War, after having worked as an actor since the turn of the century.  

He fled political persecution following the Hungarian revolution of 1919, arriving in the U.S. in 1920.  He continued his acting career in America, appearing on Browadway and in silent films.  After a successful run in the stage adaptation of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" novel, Lugosi was chosen to play the lead in the 1931 movie version.  Catapulted to stardom, he went on to appear in dozens of horror films over the next two decades, and was rivaled only by "Frankenstein" star Boris Karloff as the silver screen's most popular horror star.

Hampered by typecasting and a dependence on the opiates initially prescribed to combat chronic sciatica, Lugosi's career spiraled into decline.  

By the 1950's, he was working with Ed Wood, The eccentric filmmaker famed for the ineptitude of his movies, when Lugosi died of a heart attack in 1956, Wood took existing footage of the veteran star and edited it into his move "Plan 9 from Outer Space."  Wood recruited his wife's chiropractor, a much younger and taller man, to complete additional scenes, directing him to play the role with his face shielded by a cape!

Meanwhile, 73-year-old Lugosi was buried wearing his Dracula cape.
Nov 4, 2012
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