We thought we knew the pedigree, how the Dean-Balderston script evolved, led to the involvement of Bela Lugosi, led to the Universal movie of 1931. It turns out there were plans for an earlier production, one that, for reasons unknown, never came to fruition. This earlier version would have involved Bram Stoker himself, not just his widow.
My online friend Hans de Roos, the DRACULA scholar who brought us the lost Icelandic translation of Stoker’s novel, and located the real geographic location of Castle Dracula (the one from the novel), recently oversaw the online version (due to safety concerns due to the pandemic) of the 2021 Children of the Night International Dracula Conference, as he does every year. (It’s not an online-only event every year, no. That was just for this year, hopefully.)
Hans shared this recent post on Facebook: “Kevin Wetmore from LA just made a very impressive presentation on the many dramatizations of Dracula. I promised to (re) post this little article from the Kansas City Journal of December 3, 1899, about an early US dramatization that obviously was never realized…” And I am reposting Hans’s reposting, along with his original post on the subject: “Now this is of more serious nature. According to the Kansas City Journal of December 3, 1899, page 18, Bram Stoker received an offer to dramatize Dracula already in 1899…that is 25 years before the stage version created by Hamilton Deane premiered in Derby. What ever happened to this early American offer to bring Dracula on stage?!!”
What, indeed. Suffice it to say that the production never made it onto the stage and that DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE has not become a pleasant memory. This is a most exciting discovery. Kudos, Hans!