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From the Archives: Actor Bela Lugosi, Dracula of Screen, Succumbs After Heart Attack at 73

Veteran Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi, 73, best known for his many Dracula screen roles, died late yesterday in his apartment at 5620 Harold Way, apparently the victim of a heart attack.

Lugosi's wife, the former Hope Lininger of Johnstown, Pa., whom the actor once credited with encouraging him to break a drug addiction, told police her husband was dead in bed when she returned home last night.

Acting Career Resumed

Mrs. Lugosi said the actor had completed one picture since he ended his drug cure and "seemed to be getting better month by month."

Lugosi's acting career was interrupted temporarily in 1955 when he turned up at the office of the mental hygiene counselor at General Hospital asking that he be committed because he had been using narcotics for 20 years.

He was treated for three months and in the following August passed a rigid staff examination at Metropolitan State Hospital and was released to resume his film career.

Lugosi commenced work in his last picture, "The Black Sleep," two weeks later and within another seven days, Aug. 24, 1955, he married Miss Lininger. She had been a long-time fan of his and during his battle against the dope addition had written him repeatedly of her belief that he would properly rehabilitate himself. She was his fifth wife.

Last night she said: "We have been very happy together. He seemed to be getting much better month by month, and it was a great shock to me to find him dead when I entered the house.

Failed to Answer

"He didn't answer me when I spoke to him, so I went to him. I could feel no pulse, but apparently he must have died a very short time before I arrived."

Lugosi was born at Lugos, Hungary, and started his acting career in 1900 in Europe. He made his American film debut in 1924.

He brought the Dracula role to Hollywood after a successful two years starring role in the stage production. During the early vogue of horror films Lugosi was considered with Boris Karloff and the late Lon Chaney to be one of the peers in portraying supernatural characters.

news.obits@latimes.com

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

FOR THE RECORD

Aug. 11, 2015: The original version of this obituary, published on Aug. 17, 1956, erred in stating that Bela Lugosi was 74 when he died.  He was 73.

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