Bela Karolyi was born on this day in 1946
Word of the Day – Weekend Edition
Bela Lugosi – actor
“We would walk over the names of Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, never, ever thinking that our names would ever be on the Walk of Fame, ... That is really quite a privilege to be here.” ~ Alice Cooper
Béla Lugosi was the stage name of actor Béla Ferenc Dezso Blasko (October 20, 1882–August 16, 1956). He was born in Lugos, Transylvania, Austria-Hungary (now Lugoj, Romania), the youngest of four children of a banker. He is best known for his portrayal of Dracula in the American Broadway stage production, and subsequent film, of Bram Stoker's classic vampire story.
On arrival in America, Lugosi worked for some time as a laborer, then returned to the theater within the Hungarian-American community. He was spotted there and approached to star in a play adapted by John Balderston from Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. The production was very successful. Despite his excellent notices in the title role, Lugosi had to campaign vigorously for the chance to repeat his stage success in Tod Browning's movie version of Dracula (1931), produced by Universal Pictures. (A persistent rumor asserts that silent-film actor Lon Chaney, Sr. was originally scheduled for this film role, and that Lugosi was chosen only due to Chaney's death. This rumor has been etablished as incorrect. Chaney was under long-term contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and his home studio refused to release him to Universal for this project. Further, although Chaney and Browning had worked together on several projects, Browning was only a last-minute choice to direct the movie version of Dracula: this film was not a long-time pet project of Tod Browning, despite some claims to the contrary.)
Following the success of Dracula (1931), Lugosi received a studio contract with Universal.
After Universal changed management in 1936, he found himself consigned, along with their entire approach to horror films, to Universal's b-film unit, at times in small roles where he was obviously used for "name value" only. In the early 1940s, Universal did not renew its contract with Lugosi, and he ended up having to contract with the poverty row company Monogram Pictures, where he received star billing in a succession of horror, psycho and mystery B-films produced by Sam Katzman.
Lugosi died of a drug-related heart attack on August 16, 1956 while sitting in a chair in his Los Angeles home. He was 73. The script for Final Curtain, written by Ed Wood, was in his lap. (His role in this film was later given to Kenne Duncan, and shots from that production made their way into Wood's Night of the Ghouls, a sequel of sorts to "Bride of the Monster".)
Truth being sometimes stranger than fiction , Bela Lugosi was buried in his full Dracula costume, as per the request in his will, in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
One of Lugosi's most infamous roles was in a movie released after he was dead. Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space features footage of Lugosi interspersed with a double who looks nothing like him. Wood had taken a few minutes of silent footage of Lugosi, in his Dracula cape, for a planned vampire picture but was unable to find financing for the project. When he later conceived of Plan 9, Wood wrote the script to incorporate the Lugosi footage and hired his wife's chiropractor to double for Lugosi in additional shots. The "double" can easily be spotted by the fact that he looks nothing like Lugosi and covers his face with his cape in every shot.
The pseudo-biographical film Ed Wood (Tim Burton, 1994) is a sentimental interpretation of the relationship between Lugosi and Wood. Lugosi is played by Martin Landau in a good-natured and sometimes moving interpretation for which Landau received an Academy Award for best supporting actor. Lugosi's son, Bela Lugosi, Jr. has stated that Wood was more exploitative and cynical than would appear from Burton's film.
Contrary to Burton's film, Lugosi did not receive top billing for Plan 9. Instead he was listed as a guest-star, below Tor Johnson, Vampira and Kenne Duncan.
Béla Viktor János Bartók (March 25, 1881 – September 26, 1945) was a composer, pianist and collector of East European folk music. Bartók was one of the founders of the field of ethnomusicology, the study of folk music and the music of non-Western cultures.
Bartók grew up in the Greater Hungary of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which was partitioned by the Treaty of Trianon after World War I. His birthplace, Nagyszentmiklós (Great St Nicholas), became Sânnicolau Mare, Romania. After his father died in 1888, Béla's mother, Paula, took her family to live in Vinogradiv (Hungarian: Nagyszöllös, now in Ukraine), and then to Prešporok (Hungarian: Pozsony, now Bratislava) in her native Slovakia. When Czechoslovakia was created in 1918 Béla and his mother found themselves on opposite sides of a border.
Upon discovering Magyar peasant folk song, not the gypsy music of Liszt, which Bartók regarded as true Hungarian folk music, he began to incorporate folk songs into his own compositions and write original folk-like tunes, as well as frequently using folksy rhythmic figures.
It was the music of Richard Strauss, whom he met at the Budapest premiere of Also sprach Zarathustra in 1902, that had most influence. This new style emerged over the next few years. Bartók was building a career for himself as a pianist, when in 1907, he landed a job as piano professor at the Royal Academy. This allowed him to stay in Hungary rather than having to tour Europe as a pianist, and also allowed him to collect more folk songs, notably in Transylvania. Meanwhile his music was beginning to be influenced by this activity and by the music of Claude Debussy that Kodály had brought back from Paris. His large scale orchestral works were still in the manner of Johannes Brahms or Richard Strauss, but he wrote a number of small piano pieces which show his growing interest in folk music. Probably the first piece to show clear signs of this new interest is the String Quartet No. 1 (1908), which has several folk-like elements in it.
In 1909, Bartók married Márta Ziegler. Their son, Béla Jr., was born in 1910.
In 1911, Bartók wrote what was to be his only opera, Bluebeard's Castle, dedicated to his wife, Márta. He entered it for a prize awarded by the Hungarian Fine Arts Commission, but they said it was unplayable, and rejected it out of hand. The opera remained unperformed until 1918, when Bartók was pressured by the government to remove the name of the librettist, Béla Balázs, from the program on account of his political views. Bartók refused, and eventually withdrew the work. For the rest of his life, Bartók did not feel greatly attached to the government or institutions of Hungary, although his love affair with its folk music continued.
After his disappointment over the Fine Arts Commission prize, Bartók wrote very little for two or three years, preferring to concentrate on folk music collecting and arranging (in Central Europe, the Balkans, Algeria, and Turkey). However, the outbreak of World War I forced him to stop these expeditions, and he returned to composing, writing the ballet The Wooden Prince in 1914–16 and the String Quartet No. 2 in 1915–17. It was The Wooden Prince which gave him some degree of international fame.
In 1940, after the outbreak of World War II, and the European political situation worsened, Bartók was increasingly tempted to flee Hungary.
Bartók was strongly opposed to the Nazis. After they came into power in Germany, he refused to concertize there and switched away from his German publisher. His liberal views (as evident in the opera Bluebeard's Castle and the ballet The Miraculous Mandarin) caused him a great deal of trouble from right-wingers in Hungary.
Having first sent his manuscripts out of the country, Bartók reluctantly moved to the USA with Ditta Pásztory. Péter Bartók joined them in 1942 and later enlisted in the United States Navy. Béla Bartók, Jr. remained in Hungary.
Bartók did not feel comfortable in the USA, and found it very difficult to write. As well, he was not very well known in America and there was little interest in his music. He and his wife Ditta would give concerts; and for a while, they had a research grant to work on a collection of Yugoslav folk songs, but their finances were precarious, as was Bartók's health.
His last work might well have been the String Quartet No. 6, were it not for Serge Koussevitsky commissioning him to write the Concerto for Orchestra, which became Bartók's most popular work and which was to ease his financial burdens. He was also commissioned by Yehudi Menuhin to write Sonata for Solo Violin. This seemed to reawaken his interest in composing, and he went on to write his Piano Concerto No. 3, an airy and almost neo-classical work, and begin work on his Viola Concerto.
Béla Bartók died in New York City from leukemia. He left the viola concerto unfinished at his death; it was later completed by his pupil, Tibor Serly.
He was interred in the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, but after the fall of Hungarian communism in 1988, his remains were transferred to Budapest, Hungary for a state funeral on July 7, 1988 with interment in Budapest's Farkasreti Cemetery.
Béla Károlyi (born September 13, 1942) is a Romanian gymnastics coach. Born in Kolozsvár, Hungary (Cluj-Napoca, Romania since 1944), to an ethnic Hungarian family, Károlyi and his wife, Márta, also of Hungarian ancestry, emigrated to the United States in 1981 and both have dual citizenships for Romania and America. The Károlyis have coached both United States and Romanian Olympic teams to medal-winning success.
Béla Anton Leoš Fleck (born July 10, 1958) is an American banjo player. Widely acknowledged as one of the world's most innovative and technically proficient banjo players, he is best known for his work with the bands New Grass Revival and Béla Fleck and the Flecktones.
Fleck was born in New York City, and is named after Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, and Czech composers Anton Dvorak and Leoš Janáček. He was drawn to the banjo when he first heard Earl Scruggs play the theme song for the television show Beverly Hillbillies. He received his first banjo at age fifteen from his grandfather in 1973. Later, Fleck enrolled in New York City's High School of Music and Art where he studied the French horn. He was a banjo student under Tony Trischka.
Béla Fleck and Victor Wooten formed Béla Fleck and the Flecktones in 1988, along with keyboardist and harmonica player Howard Levy and Wooten's percussionist brother Roy "Future Man" Wooten, who played synthesizer-based percussion. They recorded numerous albums, most notably Flight of the Cosmic Hippo, their second album, which reached number one on the Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart, and found increased popularity among jazz/rock/fusion fans. Levy left the group in 1992, making the band a trio until saxophonist Jeff Coffin joined the group onstage in 1997. His first studio recording with the band was their 1998 album Left of Cool. Coffin left the group in 2008 to replace Dave Matthews Band's saxophonist, LeRoi Moore. Howard Levy rejoined the Flecktones in 2009. Béla Fleck and the original Flecktones went on to record Rocket Science, and tour in 2011.
In August 2007 at Paladino's wedding, Fleck brought Abigail Washburn as his "girlfriend," both playing in a scratch band composed of wedding party members. In May 2009, the Bluegrass Intelligencer satirized the upcoming "strategic marriage" of Washburn and Fleck, joking that the couple promises to have a "male heir" who will be the "Holy Banjo Emperor". In February 2010, The Aspen Times reported that Washburn had become Fleck's wife in the previous year. In a July 2010 interview, Washburn said she first met her husband in Nashville at a square dance—she was dancing and he was playing.