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No Traveler Returns: The Lost Years of Bela Lugosi Paperback – 2 Mar 2016
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I came late to being a Lugosi fan. I remember watching his thrillers on television in the early 1960s for the first time and I became enthralled with his persona - his movements and that wonderful accented voice of his captured me at once. I still glean pleasure from watching him in films like `Voodoo Man' and `The Devil Bat'. One of my favorite chapters in this book is regarding Lugosi's Spook Shows. I was soiling my diapers at the time he was creeping out audiences so I never had an opportunity to see him perform live. But, what a thrill it would have been to see, and possibly, meet him. I'm envious of those persons who had that privilege.
Also, this book importantly shows that Lugosi was not the pathetic figure many articles in the past have made him out to be. Though he may have preferred a continued success in motion pictures, his plays and spook shows were well received and yielded good box office and a handsome salary for his talents.
For years, a negative remembrance from film historian, William K. Everson, regarding a Lugosi show he attended, has often been cited as to how `wretched' Lugosi's life and career had fallen. Well, maybe he caught the show on a bad night because evidence found in the local papers of the day and the testimonies of the local people who attended Lugosi's various plays and shows are contrary to Mr. E's evaluation.
I recall reading years ago several interviews with Boris Karloff and whenever he was asked about Lugosi, Karloff would frequently use the phrase `Poor Bela'. I'm confident that Mr. Karloff had no intent of condescension or disrespect to his fellow actor, but I think there were many that, wrongly, took it that way and it may have contributed to solidifying an image of Lugosi as being an impoverished and washed up performer. He wasn't. And, as you'll see from this excellent book, though Lugosi had many troubles in his career and personal life (particularly in his final years), one still finds a very loving, caring and highly professional man who cherished his family, friends, fans and acting.
This book comes highly recommended to all persons everywhere - one doesn't have to be a Lugosi fan to enjoy this journey. In addition to the fine research done by the authors, this book contains lots of photos (many new to public) and lots of newspaper ads heralding Lugosi's many live shows.
In fact, after you have traveled this book once - you may belie the title and return for another read through.
There is much of interest for the Lugosiphile; my favorite chapter deals with the speculation that Lugosi's career was impacted by being blacklisted (as many actors were during the late '40's). Buy this well researched book to read the author's conclusions.
The authors have written a very readable book about those lost years. With great scholarship that no doubt took a lot of legwork and effort, they have organized the lost years into an interesting narrative that gives Lugosi fans yet more glimpses into his life. A great read, very interesting, recommended.
Having said that, I must mention a purely personal complaint of this book. That is, the size of the font used in the printing is very small, at least for my old tired eyes. This sure didn't stop me from reading the book and despite this complaint I still must give it 5 stars. But it would have been even more enjoyable if the size of the font were larger. I do not know how the size of a font is decided upon by a publisher, or the reasonings behind the decision. If this book were available in kindle format, there would be no complaint at all (hint hint)