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Posted May 17, 2006
'Lugosi: His Life in Films, on Stage, and in the Hearts of Horror Lovers' isn't a biography of the late horror icon. Great biographies on Lugosi have already been done, most notably by Arthur Lennig in 'The Immortal Count'. Rather, author Gary Don Rhodes takes a different tack. While the book does contain a biography of Lugosi, it only comprises less than forty of the book's 400 plus pages. Rather, Rhodes has tried, and very successfully I might add, to provide lists of everything relating to Lugosi's life and career. After the bio-section, we get a list of every known Lugosi residence in the United States, complete with address, telephone number, and the years...or often times months...that the actor resided at each spot. One could make quite a trip out of visiting all of Lugosi's former homes in California. We also get a list of all of Lugosi's court appearances for divorces, lawsuits, and bankruptcy petitions. Each goes into incredible detail and allows the reader a rare glimpse into a celebrity's personal life. There is a very detailed account of the lawsuit that Lugosi's son, Bela Jr., brought against Universal Studios when he discovered his fathers likeness being used to sell products such as the old Aurora model kits. Rhodes next provides a list of every Lugosi film, not only his movies in the U.S., but also those he made in Germany, and his native Hungary before coming to America. Each film includes a list of cast, credits, plot, synopsis, and production notes. While there is obviously a lot more detail included on the films made here, I was quite surprised at the amount of information that Rhodes was able to uncover on Lugosi's foreign credits. It's hard enough sometimes to find out details about silent films made in this country, let alone those made in Germany and Hungary. Next up we have Lugosi's stage, live, vaudeville, radio, and TV appearances, again with a staggering amount of detail. A selected list of over 500 articles from magazines over the years follows and provides even more details about his career. These articles are culled from magazines like Variety, Famous Monsters of Filmland, FilmFax, and Midnight Marquee. Still hungry for more? How about a list of Lugosi's most famous quotes, books on the star, articles on merchandising and collecting Lugosi memorabilia, and Lugosi mysteries. Perhaps the most famous mystery surrounding Lugosi is the test film shot for his audition to play the monster in 'Frankenstein'. Rumors persisted for years that the film existed and it was even advertised for sale but was never produced. Truly one of the Holy Grails in horror history! 'Lugosi: His Life in Films, on Stage, and in the Hearts of Horror Lovers' is a fabulous book because it ISN'T what you thought it would be, i.e. just another biography. Rhodes did a lot of legwork to come up with a treasure chest full of information about a true Hollywood legend. Reviewed by Tim Janson
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Posted January 22, 2009
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