Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff

The Expanded Story of a Haunting Collaboration, with a Complete Filmography of Their Films Together


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About the Book

Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster are horror cinema icons, and the actors most deeply associated with the two roles also shared a unique friendship. Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff starred in dozens of black-and-white horror films, and over the years managed to collaborate on and co-star in eight movies. Through dozens of interviews and extensive archival research, this greatly expanded new edition examines the Golden Age of Hollywood, the era in which both stars worked, recreates the shooting of Lugosi and Karloff’s mutual films, examines their odd and moving personal relationship and analyzes their ongoing legacies. Features include a fully detailed filmography of the eight Karloff and Lugosi films, full summaries of both men’s careers and more than 250 photographs, some in color.

About the Author(s)

Gregory William Mank has written and recorded many DVD and Blu-Ray audio commentaries, has won four Rondo Awards, and has written numerous books on classic horror films. He and lives in Delta, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Gregory William Mank

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 701
Bibliographic Info: 254 photos (10 in color), appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017 [2009]
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7234-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5472-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction and Acknowledgments      1
1. “I Created My Own Monster!”      7
2. In the Hall of the Mountain King      13
3. The Friendly Panther      22
4. The Strangest Passion      34
5. “A Death Mask of a Monster”      48
6. Jimmy      56
7. Billy      63
8. “I Owe It All to Dr. Frankenstein’s Jolly Old Monster!”      80
9. Booby Prize      97
10. 1932      106
11. KARLOFF the Uncanny in The Mummy      124
12. Wives, Rivals, London, The Screen Actors Guild, John Ford, Broadway, Walt Disney and Others      135
13. “Improper Faces”—The Black Cat      153
14. The Film Stars Frolic      201
15. Gift of Gab and Other Curiosities      205

Between pages 214 and 215 are 8 color plates containing 10 photographs

16. 1935: Bride of Frankenstein vs. Mark of the Vampire      215
17. The Rivals      227
18. “Unsubtle Acting”—The Raven      240
19. “They Were Both Totally Darling!”—The Invisible Ray      271
20. Limbo Approaches      303
21. Horrible, Horrible Men      319
22. Monster Eve      327
23. “All the Demons of Hell”—Son of Frankenstein      336
24. Feathering the Nest      376
25. “Stanley Ridges and Karloff ”—Black Friday      389
26. “Their Royal Slynesses”: You’ll Find Out      411
27. Arsenic and Old Lace      428
28. “Toneless Voice and Mr. Potato Head Features”: Young Lon      437
29. Universal Production # 1279      447
30. 1943—New Work, New Rivals      460
31. 1944      470
32. The Body Snatcher      481
33. Unholy Three—Bedlam, Genius at Work, and House of Dracula      520
34. 1946–1947      528
35. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein      535
36. 1949–1953      542
37. The Film That Never Was      553
38. “The Greatest Pain in the World”      559
39. The Last Bride of Dracula      562
40. Dracula’s Revenge—and Death      572
41. Karloff ’s Last Act      587
42. The Myth and the Rivalry      603

Appendix 1. The Bela Lugosi Career      623
Appendix 2. The Boris Karloff Career      629
Appendix 3. Filmography of Their Films Together      636
Chapter Notes      643
Bibliography      667
Index      671

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Winner, Rondo Hatton Award
  • “Explores the truths behind the mysterious Karloff and the enigmatic Lugosi…brings to life the compelling and complicated saga of the horror kings…add this to your shelf”—Library Journal
  • “Engaging…Mank’s prose is accessible and informative, weaving production history, fan gossip, suggestive analysis and lovingly detailed plot summaries into a tapestry that will appeal both to the student as well as to the interested reader. Libraries at all levels”—Choice
  • “Meticulously researched…grandly paints a portrait of the two stars and the spooky past of Universal, Hollywood’s top scare studio of the 1930s and 1940s”—USA Today
  • “One of the great studies of classic horror films”—Psychobabble
  • “It is clear Mank has a huge respect for the actors he writes about”—The Idaho Librarian
    “this is an incredible book. I can barely scratch the surface of the information and secrets that Mank has uncovered. Suffice to say that this book is the one book you must own if you are a fan of Lugosi and Karloff”—Fangoria
  • “Improves upon [Mank’s] already commendable original book from nearly 20 years ago. It is a welcome expansion covering the careers of two masters of an ever-popular movie genre and is most highly recommended to any fan of horror cinema”—Rogue Cinema
  • “McFarland simply publishes the BEST books about film. They are always well-written and well-researched”—
  • “Mank’s latest offering, his monolithic dual biography of the genre’s most memorable icons…proves his storytelling prowess and acute attention to detail have only strengthened with time. Not only has Mank nearly doubled the page length (which means more story, more facts, more juicy tidbits—a definite trademark of this author) but the book is informed by scores of new interviews that Mank has conducted in the two decades since the first edition’s release…this is truly the gift that keeps on giving”—Video Watchdog
  • “Worth every dime…Mank’s a colorful wordsmith…sets a crisp pace throughout. It’s also scrupulously researched and accurate to a fault. And the stills! Here is a gallery for fans who think they’ve seen everything.”—Greenbriar Picture Shows
  • “The phrase ‘revised and updated’ hardly does justice to the work Greg Mank has done in completely rewriting his original, landmark volume. Meticulously researched…and entertainingly written, this book will stand as the final word on both actors…book is like a brick, a hefty tome both in terms of physical presentation and the priceless content. Even if you’ve got the original, the new version is so different it’s worth a re-investment. You won’t be disappointed…the best example of its type. A must-have volume”—
  • “Massive and fascinating…superbly written…exceptional…beautifully…illustrated…BRAVO”—Scary Monsters Magazine
  • “Monumental…insightful…one of the finest books ever written about horror’s two greatest icons”—VideoScope
  • “Excellently written”—Little Shoppe of Horrors
  • “Excellent…well-written and well-researched. If Mank is behind it, you know it will be good”—Mania
  • “Highly readable and highly recommended…once you start this book, it’ll be hard to put down”—Operaphile
  • “One of the most enjoyable, enlightening, and entertaining books that I’ve read in a long time…massive…Mank has obviously done decades of research on subjects for this book…If you are looking for a book on Boris Karloff and/or Bela Lugosi, then this is your book. There is so much background on these two Icons, not just them working together, but their own history as well. It really is an essential tome in any horror fans library…an incredible job bringing information about these unsung heroes of cult and B-movie productions that really need to be remembered for the stellar work they did.”—Kitley’s Krypt.