Bela Lugosi had played Dracula on stage prior to his casting in Tod Browning’s 1931 movie Dracula. Standing at 6 foot 1, he had a commanding presence and the fact he was Romanian (where Transylvania is located)added to his mystique. He was able to show Dracula as alluring on one hand, dangerous on the other. And many consider his performance still to be one of the best though the movie itself gets panned by many horror movie enthusiasts. For Lugosi it was both a blessing and a curse. He would forever be associated with the role that brought him such fame but kept him stuck in horror movies. He found it very difficult to get roles outside of the genre. He was cast by Universal in a few movies as a good character: The Black Cat (1934),The Invisible Ray(1936), and the movie serial The Return of Chandu(1934). However it did little to overcome the shadow of Dracula. His addiction to methadone also affected him getting jobs and by the 1950’s was almost broke. Ed Wood planned to cast him in several features but only appears in Plan 9 From Outer Space(1959) arguably one of the worst movies of all time. And his scenes were done for another Wood movie and Lugosi had died by the time this movie was released in 1959. Lugosi passed away in 1956 from a heart attack and was buried in a Dracula cape (his fifth wife and son made that decision).
And now here is Bela Lugosi greeting his guest in the opening scenes of Dracula. Francis Ford Coppola borrowed from this opening in his movie treatment of the same character.