BELA LUGOSI 2014 fine art print / edition of 15 / (SOLD OUT)

It's hard to say if Bela Lugosi's 1940s-50s film roles were a confirmation or refutation of Fitzgerald's contention that there are no second acts in American lives. Bela's cinematic career, in a variation of the Bonaparte bloodline, unfolded first as melodrama, then as farce. In the latter lay tragedy—the diminishment of a promising Hollywood legacy. Lugosi achieved immortality the first time around: Dracula (1931), The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939). During the 1940s he was largely typecast in forgettable, low-budget B-movies. Then came the 1950s (as he appears in Drew Friedman's portrait). Lugosi was cast in seven films during the decade, but none were more iconic—or unforgettable—than Ed Wood, Jr.'s Plan 9 From Outer Space. In fact, Lugosi went to his grave in 1956 unaware of his role in this legendary work of outsider cinema.

Wood had befriended the drug-addicted and near-destitute actor, offering him roles in such unintentionally absurd debacles as Glen or Glenda (1953) and Bride of the Monster (1955). In preparation for his next, as-yet unscripted and untitled project, Wood shot impromptu footage of Lugosi wearing his famed Dracula cape cavorting in front of actor Tor Johnson's home, in a suburban graveyard, and around Lugosi's own apartment building. Shortly thereafter, Lugosi died of a heart attack. Three years later Wood completed Plan 9, in which he managed to gratuitously weave most of the Lugosi test footage into his tortured plot. (Wood hired his wife's chiropractor to double for the visibly shorter Lugosi in additional shots.)

The film was largely overlooked and dismissed upon its 1959 release. However, after Wood's death in 1978, Plan 9 From Outer Space became a cult sensation, a midnight-movie must-see. Lugosi's reputation wasn't restored—it was enhanced.

Considering the full circumstances of Bela's fall from grace, it's difficult not to sympathize about his fate. We're all subject to forces beyond our control, but few of us will ever be subject to farces under Ed Wood, Jr.'s control.

— Irwin Chusid
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Only fifteen (15) prints of BELA LUGOSI were produced for this edition. Each print is signed in the lower right, hand-titled in the center, and numbered in the lower left (all beneath the image).

On March 30, 2022, we sold the final print of the edition. This work is no longer available from

The image area is 14-1/4" high x 10" wide on an untrimmed 17" x 11" sheet. Paper, ink, and production specifications, as well as shipping details, are available on our PRINT SPECS page.