Monday, August 16, 2010

Pull de stringk!

I'm sorry I haven't been around lately -- we are visiting family and friends, and free wi-fi is not easy to find down here -- but I hope you've been visiting, reading, listening, enjoying the ol' place. I have been enjoying my family time.

I will be back soon, but I did not want today to pass by without marking the occasion.

You know the occasion, right? Of course you do. You've had it marked on your calendar since you were a kid.

The 54th anniversary of the death of Bela Lugosi.

 Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasko
October 20, 1882 -- August 16, 1956

There are a handful of legendary actors whose names are forever engraved in our collective cultural conscience as the unquestionable iconic heroes of horror cinema. Karloff, Chaney Sr., Chaney Jr., Price, Lorre... Lugosi.

They're not the only names in classic horror, but these are the Big Guys.

I can't put them in any order that feels right to me -- each of those names could rightfully sit atop that short list -- but of those names, it is inarguable that Lugosi's is the one that most embodies suavity, smoothness, mystery, elegant Old World charm... and a diabolical sensuality that makes women swoon.

Did I say Old World? I meant Otherworldly.

A toast... to Bela. King of the Vampires, icon of horror, actor, gentleman.

Oh, by the way... this is the Skull & Pumpkin's 250th post.

I think it's fitting.

Another by the way, please read Fester's insights on Lugosi in the comments below. Informative and wonderful stuff that puts some perspective on his early life and the odds stacked against him. It's remarkable that to this day almost everyone, even younger folks who have never even seen one of his films, can tell you who he is, or at least say "Oh, that's Dracula!".

Lugosi lives.



  1. Could not have said it better. He is one of my favorites.


  2. You're right. It is difficult, it not impossible to place that pantheon of horror in any rank. They all had their masterpieces; all had their moments of greatness on the screen--often costarring with each other. It is amazing, I cannot think of any group of modern actors to match them. There are one or two who come close; but nothing like these men. And I would have done anything short of actual homicide to have sat down to coffee with every one of them.
    Bela probably had the hardest time, given his health and addiction problems But I think his earlier life would have been just as fascinating as his movie career.
    During World War I he was an infantry lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian Army. By 1916, he rose to the rank of captain in the ski patrol and was wounded at the Russian Front. His back pain possibly related to his wounds led to his pain killer addiction.
    Due to his activism in the actors union in Hungary during the time of the Hungarian Revolution of 1919 he had to flee his homeland. He first immigrated to Vienna, and then moved on to Germany. That would have been in the midst of the political and economic chaos of the Weimar Republic.
    Eventually, he traveled to the US landing in New Orleans as a crewman aboard a merchant ship. Here he was in a totally strange country speaking little or no English, yet he managed to survive, even prosper.

    Here is to you Mr Lugosi. You are gone, but never will be forgotten.

  3. Pull da stringkah!