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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!

TheCheezman • November 7, 2019


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