The Hudson Theatre, which opened in 1903, is much more than a beautiful facade, much more than a landmark Broadway playhouse with Tiffany glass mosaics and Roman friezes -- complete with verde-antique in Greco-Roman marble -- all of which recently and painstakingly restored by Millennium Hotels. With as much drama going on off-stage as beneath its historic proscenium arch, The Hudson has been the theater home for such titanic 20th century actors as George M. Cohan, Ethyl Barrymore, Laurence Olivier, Alfred Lunt, and Jason Robards Jr. As if that weren't enough of a resume, the storied Broadway palace has also played the big time as the studio where Jack Paar and Steve Allen did their nationally broadcasted TV shows. Elvis, Bob Hope, Sammy Davis Jr. and many others not instantly associated with Broadway have been celebrated Hudson guests too. Ward Morehouse III, whose family has been identified with theater for generations, uses the Hudson as a launching pad to write about the golden age of Broadway, live TV and beyond into the new, international age of corporate-theatre synergy.
"Ward Morehouse III, like his well-known father before him, is a natural storyteller, with countless stories to tell. His good-natured affection for New York--its characters, its cultures, its history-makers and its history--shines through his prose. He knows this city well, and likes to share what he knows. For a couple of decades I've enjoyed his newspaper writings. And a new book from him is always welcome!"
--Chip Deffaa, author of "Blue Rhythms" and "Voices of the Jazz Age"
"No one is more qualified to write a history of Broadway's landmark Hudson Theatre than Ward Morehouse III, a member of a family identified with the New York theater for generations and a theater columnist and historian in his own right. The story of how the Hudson has survived for more than a century of ups and downs as home to great plays and players, to big bands and radio dramas, rock and cabaret stars, is fascinatingly told and a very good read indeed. It burnishes Morehouse's reputation as a researcher and witty, anecdotal writer earned by several books on New York's grand hotels."
-- Frederick M. Winship, United Press International cultural critic-at-large
With the success of Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi, Universal Pictures was quick to capitalize on creating a new Lon Chaney in Bela Lugosi. Chaney had been the original choice to portray a duel role as both Dracula and Professor van Helsing, Dracula's adversary. Before production could begin Chaney died suddenly leaving Carl Laemmle Jr. without a star.
Laemmle Jr. had seen Dracula on the stage in New York City, although he could not recall if he had seen Lugosi or Raymond Huntley in the role of Count Dracula. However Lugosi was performing in the touring company which happened to be in Los Angeles at that time. Was he the new Lon Chaney?
Lugosi was not Carl Jr's first choice for the role. However he eventually won the part and now they needed more ideas for him. "Murders in the Rue Morgue", "Cagliostro", "The Invisible Man" and "Frankenstein" were top on the list.
One day in March 1931 Robert Florey, recently returned to Hollywood from Europe, was having lunch at the Musso and Frank Restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard. He was approached by an old acquaintance, Richard Schayer, head of Universal's story department. Schayer told him that his studio was looking for ideas for a new horror film to star Bela Lugosi and he knew Florey was involved with The Théâtre du Grand-Guignol de Paris, (a small theater, in an obscure alley in Paris which specialized in sadistic, shocking, explicit, violent melodramas and became known as the "Theater of Horrors". It opened in 1897 and closed in 1962.)
They both agreed on "Frankenstein" being the best choice. Schayer suggested that Florey would stand a better chance at being asigned writer and director if he were to present the idea to Carl Laemmle Jr.
We present now the script for "Frankenstein" as it would have been had Bela Lugosi starred; and Rober Florey directed.