Silent Boris and Silent Bela: The Early Careers of Two Horror Icons

Happy weekend, readers! I wrote this piece for a blogathon back in 2015 and can’t resist pulling it up again (especially after rewatching “Dracula” and “The Old Dark House” a few day ago–October staples!). Lugosi and Karloff are horror movie icons but not everyone knows much about their silent movie careers, the essential ladders that lead up to their big breaks in the early talkie era. As it turns out, both of them had similar climbs to fame!


Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi are not only two of the most iconic faces of movie horror, but two of the most iconic figures in Hollywood history, period. The “looks” of Frankenstein’s monster and Count Dracula are synonymous with those early Thirties screen interpretations, to the point where only literature buffs remember that Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a disturbing elderly man with a mustache and that Mary Shelley’s Monster spoke philosophically about its own existence.

There are only these men.

We tend know Karloff and Lugosi exclusively for their work in horror, especially since both men ended up having lengthy, if very typecast, movie careers. But did you know that good chunks of those careers were during the silent era?

Let’s take a look at what Boris and Bela were up to before the talkie era arrived:

Silent Boris

A future Monster at a more youthful age.

If you had…

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