October 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Bela Lugosi

Bela Lugosi’s Monster gets jacked up to full power — “The strength of ten men!” — in a scene from Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943).

It’s Bela’s birthday today, October 20. In 1942, he celebrated his 60th on a Universal set, playing the very part he had famously refused in 1931.

It was a harrowing shoot for the actor. Poor health and the exhausting makeup and costume led to his collapse on November 5, with ten days left in the shooting schedule. A tag team of stuntmen and stand-ins helped to fill out The Monster’s scenes.

Adding insult to injury, Lugosi’s dialog was ultimately edited out, leaving The Monster mute. Without dialog to explain that The Monster is blind, Lugosi’s stiff walk and cartwheeling arms appear awkward. In the photo above, The Monster’s curious, canny smile originally indicated that the climactic experiment had succeeded and The Monster’s sight had been restored.

In a rare moment of reprieve from the difficult shoot, Lugosi got a loving hug from his visiting five-year old son, Bela Jr.

When Frankenstein Met the Wolf Man


Space Kook said...

YES, happy birthday to him, myself and Snoop D O double G

Patty Benedict said...

What a interesting story, and also so sad.
Happy Birthday Bela!
Bugs & hisses

Sebina C. said...

I'm so looking forward to re-watching some films with him on Halloween - happy birthday to him...

I just discovered your blog :)

rob! said...

I'm watching Zombies on Broadway today in your honor, Bela!