It’s almost Halloween, so it’s only fitting that we celebrate the birth of one of Hollywood’s most iconic horror actors. Bela Lugosi, the actor who created the popular image of Count Dracula, was born on this day in 1882.
Lugosi was born in Hungry and began acting in Hungarian and German films. In 1921, Lugosi immigrated to the United States (he became a citizen ten years later) and started working in silent films and on the Broadway stage, largely in villainous or “European” roles.
In 1927, Lugosi was asked to play the title role in a stage adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic novel Dracula. The play was a smash success on Broadway, and over the next two years Lugosi played the role all over America. After Lugosi left the play, he appeared in small character roles in talkies and when Universal Pictures bought the rights to Dracula, it was fairly obvious who would play the famous vampire.
Although Lugosi’s performance has become the definitive interpretation of the character, his take on Dracula is much different from how Bram Stoker originally wrote him. In the novel, Dracula resembles an old man, thin and with a long white mustache. Lugosi looked nothing like Stoker’s description and was instead more seductive, charming and mysterious than his print counterpart.
Dracula was Lugosi’s breakout role, but sadly it also typecast him. For the rest of his film career, Lugosi would almost exclusively appear in horror films. Lugosi played several “ghouls” and vampires, but would only reprise his most famous film role once in the classic horror comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
There are many vampire themed cocktails that we could make to honor Lugosi, but I’m partial to the Vampire Kiss. It’s a blood red, bubbling cocktail which will be perfect for any Halloween party.
- 1 1/2 ounces Vodka
- 1 1/2 ounces Champagne
- 3/4 ounce Chambord
Rim a chilled cocktail glass with red sugar. Pour in the vodka and half of the Chambord. Top off with the chilled champagne and then float the remaining Chambord on top.
Tomorrow: “A drop of Nelson’s blood wouldn’t do us any harm.”