Lugosi, the youngest of four children, was born Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó in Lugos, which at the time was part of Austria–Hungary, and was later renamed Lugoj when it became part of Romania, to Paula de Vojnich and István Blaskó, a banker. He later based his last name on his hometown. He and his sister Vilma were raised in a Roman Catholic family. At the age of 12, Lugosi dropped out of school. He began his acting career probably in 1901 or 1902. His earliest known performances are from provincial theatres in the 1903–1904 season, playing small roles in several plays and operettas. He went on to Shakespeare plays and other major roles. Moving to Budapest in 1911, he played dozens of roles with the National Theatre of Hungary in the period 1913–1919. Although Lugosi would later claim that he "became the leading actor of Hungary's Royal National Theatre", almost all his roles there were small or supporting parts.
During World War I, he served as an infantry lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian Army from 1914 to 1916. There he rose to the rank of captain in the ski patrol and was awarded a medal for being wounded at the Russian front.
Due to his activism in the actors' union in Hungary during the time of the Hungarian Revolution of 1919, he was forced to flee his homeland. He first went to Vienna and then settled in Berlin in the Langestrasse where he continued acting. Eventually, he travelled to New Orleans, Louisiana, United States as a crewman aboard a merchant ship.
Read more about this topic: Bela Lugosi
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