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Monday, August 27, 2012


Just Out: No Traveler Returns: The Lost Years Of Bela Lugosi

Once you're past 50's icons, is there any star more written about than Bela Lugosi? Author Gary Don Rhodes has done four books if you count his White Zombie coverage, which is, of course, Lugosi centered. No Traveler Returns is aptly titled, an exhausted Lugosi on its cover. Indeed, this aged trouper seldom returned to comforts of home from dogged travel to keep groceries at hand and a growing son in military academy. We read about Lugosi and are even inspired by him, because the man never gave up. No matter degrading circumstance, he gave all and never played down to audiences. Boris Karloff, bless him, stayed a little too comfortable to achieve such nobility.

Bela and Lillian Attend UK World Premiere of Scrooge on 11/23/51


Much Lugosi love prevails among survivors that knew him. A friend of mine encountered a guy who met BL on a train and spent thirty minutes chatting it up. Rest assured he came away a committed fan. Rhodes and co-author Bill Kaffenberger cover Lugosi as if they spent each day of "Lost Years" with him. Detail here is astounding. Much of what we presumed about Bela t'aint necessarily so. I was pleased to find he performed in Vegas on my birth date. Many can chart life's opener to respective Lugosi movements by using this book (now that's being a fan!). No Traveler Returns is scrupulous with facts and ignores no Bela-data of focus period.

Lugosi Does Dracula Stage Touring

Rhodes/Kaffenberger make many points I never considered. For instance, Lugosi was mostly out of movies during late 40's, early 50's downturn, but dozens of his oldies played relentless through the country as adjuncts to BL barnstorming in live spook shows. The authors found numerous eyewitnesses to these. Remarkable how each differed from others. "Poor Bela" plied his trade when people thought horror movies junk, or for kids. History would lift him from this to paragon status he now enjoys (or mores the pity, doesn't). I'm a fan of Lugosi, have been going toward fifty years, but this and other Rhodes books put me, and I suspect others, in strictly dabbler class. I'll enter no BL trivia contest against these authors! BearManor published, and No Traveler Returns is loaded with rare illustrations.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Dan in Missouri said...

I admire Bear Manor for all they try to do, but their books often needing editing and more fact checking
But if you suggest the book, I'll order it right now! The last years of Lugosi deserve the attention.
Dan In Missouri

6:25 PM  

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