Bela in Birmingham
Recently I made the drive to Birmingham, Alabama and its magnificent Alabama Theatre for a screening of the classic THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (which I wrote about last week). Before the movie and before I got in line to purchase my popcorn and soda I spent some time just wandering around the stunning location. In the lobby area they had this glass case, and inside it, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of Bela Lugosi. Rushing over, I learned that Bela had been in Birmingham in 1944 for a touring performance of the play ARSENIC AND OLD LACE. I never knew that! Oh, Bela, you were so close! (In geographic terms. This was still several decades before I was born, unfortunately.) They even had a program from the show, alongside a picture of Bela as his most legendary portrayal, Count Dracula. 1944. This would have been twelve years before Bela’s passing, and fifteen before he appeared posthumously in his *other* most recognized role, the “old man” in Ed Wood’s PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE.
Anyone who has seen a production of ARSENIC AND OLD LACE will appreciate the irony that there is a character in the cast who, as a plot point, is supposed to look a whole lot like…Boris Karloff! And that’s the role Bela played!
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced, and directed (and occasionally acted in) over two dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and True Crime genres. He obtained a doctorate in Occult Studies from Miskatonic University and is an active paranormal investigator. Is frequently told he resembles Anton Lavey. And Ming the Merciless.
Denn die totden reiten schnell!