Lugosi was a horror god. He had the ability to scare the bejesus out of everyone, including unsuspecting trick-or-treaters. Unfortunately, he hit the skids in a big way, when he moved into this little flat on Harold Way, in Hollywood.
This is where he lived through his infamous Ed Wood period. His death in this simple home on August 16, 1956, led Lugosi to the pine condo for the very last time (he spent most of his career there). He was 73 years old. Years of morphine, Demerol and other drug use, due to a war injury, had taken their toll.
His body was removed,
and Lugosi was (WARNING: dead pics) laid out at the now razed Utter-McKinley Mortuary, at 6240 Hollywood Boulevard.
I grabbed a hunk of it before they tore it down.
Hundreds of fans lined Hollywood Boulevard to view his body, laid out in his Dracula cape. Legend has it that Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff were viewing the body of their old friend, who had risen out of so many coffins as Count Dracula, Lorre said, "Come now, Bela, quit putting us on!" Bela's casket was taken by hearse to the cemetery.
From Findadeath friend Davi: I recently found your site, and read the Bela Lugosi piece that you wrote. I believe that you are wrong in stating
that Lugosi died after the release of Plan 9 from outer Space. Bela Lugosi died in 1956,
and Plan 9 was released in 1957.
Here is a picture of Bela in his casket, per his own request - in his Dracula costume. Warning, dead guy.
Findadeath.com friend Neil sends this in: Here's another quote from Peter Lorre, as told by Vincent Price in his autobiography. Lorre commented to Price as they were viewing Bela's body, "Should we drive a stake through his heart, just in case?"
Bela is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City.
Trivia: Bela supposedly died with a script entitled "The Final Curtain" in his hands.
Findadeath.com friend Casey Stevens sent this
entry. Interesting stuff. Thanks Casey. A gem from Big Stephen King,
quotable, from "Danse Macabre":
Lugosi died shortly after this abysmal, exploitative, misbegotten piece of trash was released, and I've always wondered in my heart if maybe poor old Bela didn't die as much of shame as of the many illnesses that were overwhelming him. It was a sad a squalid coda to a great career. Lugosi was buried (at his own request) in his Dracula cape, and one likes to think -- or hope -- that it served him better in death than it did in the miserable waste of celluloid that marked his last screen appearance." Heavy stuff from Mr. King, eh?
This just in, from Findadeath.com friend
Donna: I picked-up a copy of Bela's biography, published in 1976 with an intro by Bela, Jr., to
do some "recreational reading."
Thanks, Donna. Great stuff!
This was sent to me by Findadeath.com friend Walt Werner: "Joey Bishop was on a talk radio show not too long ago in Chicago, when he became quite agitated at the interviewers, who were trying to "dig up dirt" on Frank Sinatra. He ranted that Frank had done many good, unpublicized deeds, like paying for funerals of many actors that died paupers. When pressed for examples, Joey mentioned that Ol' Blue Eyes picked up the tab for Bela Lugosi's final act." Hmm, never heard that one. Thanks, Walt!
Feb 2002, Findadeath.com friend Laura Schiotis sends us this: I was looking at your Bela Lugosi bio and I have a few comments about Bela you might want to add to your page (or ignore, whatever): Many people say that Boris Karloff made the comment "Bela, you're putting us on" to Peter Lorre or whoever at Bela's funeral. But Boris wasn't at the funeral. In fact he was in England at the time, so obviously he could not have said such a thing.
Incidentally, Bela's third wife, one Beatrice Woodruff Weeks, was Mrs. Bela Lugosi for only three days! Bela was an old fashioned, Old World kind of guy and expected his wives to wait on him hand and foot. Beatrice, however was too busy with her own hangovers to take care of Bela. I read something in a biography of Bela Lugosi that I found both funny and interesting. Bela was doing a stage role that he hoped would get him noticed and according to a newspaper Bela came on stage to deliver his lines and accidentally tripped over a 'carefully laid pipe' that 'propelled' him into the air where he then landed on the other side of the stage, knocked over an easel with paint and got paint all over himself. The audience thought it was hilarious but Bela got up, brushed himself off, acted oblivious to the whole thing and delivered his lines . I think this shows that he was truly a great actor, and it even illustrates his often sad life, he fell, brushed himself off and somehow managed to carry himself with dignity despite the situation.
This just in, December 2004, from
Findadeath friend Steve: Just read your new updates on
Bela Lugosi. The guy who "corrected" you by saying that Lugosi died in
1956 but that the film Plan 9 From Outer Space was released in 1957 is more
incorrect than you are! True, one of the great, hilarious, but also sad things
about Plan 9 is that Bela actually died during the making of it, and director Ed
Wood got his wife's chiropractor to stand in for him, with a Dracula cape in
front of his face and everything!
July 2007 my friend Lisa Burks turned me on to the fact that Bela's condolence register was up for auction last year.
One of those amazing relics I'd love to have owned. His funeral took place on August 18th, coincidentally Criswell's birthday. It reads as a who's who for Ed Wood fans.
Amazing find, Lisa. Thank you for passing it on, I'm sure whomever bought it (12Grand yikes!) will cherish it. I hope they put it on display at some point for others to see.
This was the blurb in the auction catalogue:
The Bela Lugosi Funeral Book and Pallbearers Card with a Custom Leather Case. On August 18, 1956, Utter McKinley's Strother Hollywood Mortuary hosted the funeral of Bela Lugosi, the cinema's legendary Count Dracula. Lugosi had fallen-in-flames as few stars have before or since, cursed by alcoholism, drug addiction, marital miseries, near-poverty and a haunting fear of death itself. Yet, in his typical and touching passion, Lugosi went to his grave as a star - laid out, as he had wished, in his Dracula cape, tuxedo and medallion. It was a morbidly poetic flourish that blended legend, fantasy and reality - a touching finale to Lugosi's life and a powerful part of his mythos. Now, on the 50th anniversary of Bela Lugosi's demise, Heritage proudly offers Lugosi's funeral book, signed by the mourners who attended his wake - a number of them colorful key players in Lugosi legend and lore. There's Edward D. Wood, Jr., director of Lugosi's Glen or Glenda (1953), Bride of the Monster (1955) and the infamous "Worst Film of All Time" Plan 9 from Outer Space , released after Lugosi's death in 1959. (Wood, of course, was the subject of the 1994 film Ed Wood, starring Johnny Depp in the title role and Martin Landau in his Oscar-winning portrayal of Lugosi, and the film dramatized Lugosi's funeral and burial in his cape.) There's Tor Johnson, the bald, behemothic horror cult figure of such Wood films as Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 from Outer Space, who signed both his wife's name and his own - adding after his signature "Lobo," his role in Bride of the Monster. (Johnson, as Lugosi's widow remembered, "blubbered like a baby" at the funeral.) Others of the Ed Wood colony include Paul Marco ("Kelton the Cop"), George Weiss (producer of Glen or Glenda), Conrad Brooks ( policeman Jamie in Plan 9... ), Dudley Manlove ("Eros" of Plan 9...), "L. King" (presumably Loretta King, leading lady of Bride of the Monster), Kathleen Wood (Ed's Estimate: $10,000 - up.)