It was on this day, 60 years ago, that the great Bela Lugosi passed from this world into the next.
Jake Esau remembers that day clearly, and today sent me a very poignant note about it:
I remember distinctly Paul Harvey leading off his noon radio newscast by saying “Dracula is dead” in his trademark staccato delivery; I was 9 years old and about to enter the 5th grade. Lugosi, of course, was one of my favorites, and I was devastated. I had no idea yet of the full story and tragedy of his life.
How lucky Jake was, I thought, to have lived in the world at the same time as the great actor. But we can imagine Jake’s sense of loss – actors like that were the firmament of our young lives. It’s always hard to lose them. Maybe Lugosi spoke to us a little more than most, with his portrayals of the monsters and darkness the reside in all of us.
Jake was perhaps born a few years too soon — Forrest J Ackerman’s FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and its community was still a few years away — just as I was born a few years too late, after that august publication had passed its zenith.
But as tragic as Lugosi’s life was, think of all the lives he touched in his long career. I hope he was aware of it.