Boris vs. Bela – A Real Rivalry?
I had an encounter on social media this week with a sincere but misinformed individual who was reporting cinematic scuttlebutt as fact. It’s conceivable that he realized the tenuousness of his claim, as he ended up deleting his half of the conversation when I challenged his accuracy. His claim: that Bela Lugosi hated Boris Karloff, after he, Lugosi, refused to take the role of the Frankenstein Monster and was subsequently blacklisted because of this, and because Karloff, upon taking said role, went on to superstardom. It’s a great piece of backstage rumor, but it isn’t true.
If you’re interested in the facts, they are this:
There is doubt among film historians as to whether Bela Lugosi really DID refuse the part of the Monster in James Whale’s FRANKENSTEIN. Some maintain that he did not, that the decision was ultimately Whale’s. Furthermore, the reasons for Lugosi’s impaired success in the following years were many, and were much more complicated than simple resentment on the parts of the studios. (And it’s just silly to think that rival studios would care whether Bela had pissed off the people at Universal, anyway.) And finally, while Bela Lugosi was human, and doubtless there were times when he couldn’t help but resent Karloff’s success, he bore no ill will against him. This claim is supported by the testimony of friends, associates, and family members of both men, who claim their relationship remained a cordial one throughout their lives. Tim Burton’s depiction in his film ED WOOD of Bela as a foul-mouthed lecher consumed by bitterness, hating on Karloff? Pure fiction.
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!