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

Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Arts and Entertainment


These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London