FROM THE DUST JACKET OF
VAMPIRE OVER LONDON
Bela Lugosi in Britain, 2nd Edition
I first played Count Dracula on the stage in 1927. In 1931 I made the film. It was my doom.
Dracula made Hungarian-born actor Bela Lugosi world famous but forever trapped him in monster & mad doctor roles. In the heyday of Hollywood horror, he reigned as a star. When horror fell out of fashion, Lugosi scarcely worked at all. Late in life, with few job prospects in Hollywood or New York, he searched for one last comeback. In 1951, 68-year old Lugosi and his wife Lillian staked their fortunes on a stage tour of Dracula in Britain. They hoped to bring Dracula to London’s West End and rekindle his original success on Broadway. For six months and in more than 200 performances, Lugosi thrilled audiences in the provinces. The grueling trek of one week engagements across England, Scotland and Ireland broke his stamina. The West End never beckoned, the tour ended. Lugosi made a low-budget movie and returned to America. He would never play Dracula again and would never find that final comeback. Lugosi’s months in Britain were soon forgotten, even by his most ardent fans.
Vampire Over London – Bela Lugosi in Britain is a compelling tale of a fading Hollywood legend’s last stab at greatness, and of the forgotten triumphs of his final Dracula. Frank Dello Stritto & Andi Brooks have retraced Lugosi’s last forgotten Dracula tour, unearthing new facts, and interviewing Lugosi’s co-workers who have never spoken publicly about their time with him. They also located scores of people across Britain who saw Lugosi’s last Dracula and still remember the thrill of seeing him perform. Vampire Over London tells, for the first time, the full story of Bela Lugosi in Britain.
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Dello Stritto & Brooks also tell the behind-the-scenes stories of Lugosi’s British films: Mystery of the Mary Celeste (1935), Dark Eyes of London (1939), and Mother Riley Meets The Vampire (1951). The making of these films is intertwined with the controversy in Britain over American horror films, a battle between censors and producers that almost ruined Lugosi’s career.