Bela Lugosi

Taking his stage name from his birthplace -- Lugos, Hungary -- legendary movie monster Bela Lugosi enjoyed an illustrious stage career before gaining fame in motion pictures. Born Béla Blasko Oct. 20, 1882, the actor immigrated to Germany in 1919 and later to America because of political unrest.

Lugosi played bit parts and character roles on stage and screen until 1927, when he landed the lead in the Broadway version of Bram Stoker's "Dracula." Lugosi reprised the role on the silver screen in 1931, and the film turned him into an international star but ultimately became a millstone, forever branding him a cinematic villain. For the rest of the decade and beyond, he appeared in a series of chillers, including The Black Cat (1934) and The Wolf Man (1941).

Lugosi slowly faded from public view and died of cardiac failure Aug. 16, 1956; he was buried in his Dracula garb.