Son of Dracula

Bela Lugosi Jr wants to place a curse on Tim Burton for misrepresenting his father in Ed Wood. Paul Duane reports

"Last name Lugosi, first name - Bela." The operator sounded sceptical. "You're putting me on, right?"

"Nope," I said. Sure enough, she found the number for me. There aren't many Ma Bell subscribers by that name. In fact, since it's a pseudonym, adopted by a young Hungarian actor, Bela Blasko, on his arrival in America in the Twenties, there's only one: the son and heir of the man who will for ever be associated with the name Dracula. So how does it feel to be a lawyer named Bela Lugosi Jr?

Having just won a major case on the day we spoke, Bela Jr felt pretty good. An entertainment lawyer specialising in litigation, he'd been representing the heirs of two of the Three Stooges against the heirs of the third in a complex action relating to 3-D movie patents. Lugosi, Larry, Moe and Curly Joe - rarely can a courtroom have held such a surreal gathering of names.

That, however, is not what I'm calling Bela Jr about. I'm interested in reports that he is less than happy with the portrayal of his famous father in Tim Burton's new film Ed Wood. It purports to tell the story of Lugosi's final years, and his relationship with the charismatic, energetic and spectacularly untalented horror-movie auteur, Edward D Wood. While pre-release hype centred on the casting of Johnny Depp as the transvestite ex-marine turned director, the film's undoubted highlight is Martin Landau's larger than life portrayal of Lugosi, which earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. So why is Bela Jr so perturbed?

"I haven't seen Ed Wood," he points out. "However, many of my friends report that it's a complete distortion of my dad's life. For instance, they portray him with little dogs around him. Now, he never had little dogs. He had Dobermans, German shepherds, that kind of thing.

"There are more serious matters. They show him as a lonely man, forgotten by the world. In fact, he'd just remarried during that time and was far from lonely. They distort the nature of his medical addiction to morphine. He went into hospital, alone, and kicked this addiction entirely by himself. For the rest of his life he remained cured.

"There's also the matter of the language he uses in the film. [Landau's Lugosi is reduced to foul-mouthed rage at the mention of Boris Karloff]. My father was not a man for swearing. And they show him wearing his cape all the time, trying out coffins - things that just never happened."

It's hardly surprising to hear that a Hollywood movie is guilty of distorting the truth, particularly since Burton's previous work is hardly renowned for gritty psychological realism. However, Bela Jr contends that the film- makers had a responsibility at least to speak to those who knew Wood and Lugosi.

"What really bothers me is that I have four hours of tape- recorded interview with Ed Wood [who died in 1978], which I paid him to do. He talks about those times in great detail. Nobody from Ed Wood asked to hear those tapes or even to talk to me. It's something they should have done, not only out of regard for the truth, but out of courtesy."

Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space contains the last footage of Bela Sr. He looks like a dying man. It must be a strange experience to see your father tottering around, visibly unwell, in a film that's since become a "camp cult classic", a midnight-movie laugh riot.

"Ed Wood made some of the worst movies of all time, and to do this he exploited everybody around him. He was a user. But he gave my father work at a time when nobody else would. You have to give him that."

n 'Ed Wood' goes on general release on 26 May

News

literature

News
Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.

television

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss