Béla Lugosi born
Béla Lugosi – who was born in Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó in the Austro-Hungarian town of Lugos – is a perfect example of a late bloomer. For the vast majority of his life, Lugosi put his energies into acting, however things only clicked when he was almost 50. Lugosi quit school at the age of 12, and by his late teens was working in small theatrical productions in his native Hungary; at 29, he moved to the Hungarian capital, Budapest, where he later became a member of the National Theater of Hungary. Though his studio biography claimed he was the company’s leading man, he was in fact always a supporting player, a man who spent more time in the shadows than the spotlight. Lugosi left Hungary in 1919 to escape the Hungarian Revolution, and briefly spent time in Germany (where he appeared in a few films) before emigrating to America as a crew member on a ship headed to New Orleans. He first worked as a laborer, but found his feet working as an actor in productions put on for the Hungarian community in New York City. A few Broadway roles and parts in New York movies followed, but his big break came in 1927 when he was picked to play Dracula in a Broadway adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel. It was the first time that Lugosi had been given a high-profile role, and he thrived: the show ran for 261 performances, and its success was a major factor in Lugosi reprising his vampiric role in Tod Browning’s 1931 horror Dracula. His performance as the Transylvanian count in the Universal Horror classic made Lugosi a star, and the role launched a highly successful career as a horror star over the next two decades.