The Universal Monster Marathon – Dracula in Good Old Blighty

‘Mr Lugosi, is it true you suck blood oranges?’ one reporter asked.

‘All the time. I often eat six at a time.’ replied Lugosi with  a mischievous grin.

‘And raw steaks?’ the reporter continued.

‘When I can get them,’ Lugosi laughed.

The time was 10 April 1951 and Bela Lugosi was visiting England with his fourth wife, Lillian.

‘I was born in Translavania where the Dracula myth came from,’ Lugosi told reporters. ‘Though I never went down into our cellar. It was full of bats.’ Lugosi also revealed the he played football, as goalkeeper for the Translavania team.

Everywhere Lugosi went he was mobbed by both fans and the press – this surprised the actor who had not been a big name for over a decade, and he gave many interviews and posed for countless photographs. Whenever Lugosi signed autographs he would use his own special pen which contained blood red ink.

Privately Lugosi cursed his success as Dracula, claiming that the role had limited him, but in public he lived up to the image, often dressing as the Count when he went out and about. The Brighton Newspaper at the time carried an amusing story of how one man was terrified when he saw Dracula walking towards him after emerging from a public house one night.

‘I left my country in 1920 and have never gone back. I could not live under a dictatorship. I am an American citizen now.’ Bela Lugosi

‘Horror is my business – it pays off best. But I am tired of gore and I hope that over here I will find an intelligent producer who will think, let’s give Lugosi a comedy.’ Bela Lugosi

‘I do not scare the children. They known I am a pussy cat at heart.’ Bela Lugosi

The main reason for the trip to England was because of the stage play, Dracula – the first performance was on 16th June 1951 at the Royal Theatre in Brighton.

The play was not a great success and closed after a limited run.

Lugosi died in 1956 with his best days now long behind him. He was buried in the cape he wore in Universal’s Dracula.

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