Hamilton Deane was an Irish playwright and stage actor born in the coastal suburb of Clontarf on the northside of Dublin in Ireland. He is best known for writing the 1924 stage play Dracula, based on the 1897 novel of the same name by fellow Irishman Bram Stoker. The Deane family lived in the same region as Bram Stoker's family as well as that of Florence Balcombe, Stoker's future wife.

Discovering Dracula Edit

As a young man, Hamilton entered theater as an actor and found work at the Henry Irving Company, which was managed by Stoker at the time. By the 1920s, he turned towards script writing and endeavored to put together a stage adaptation of Stoker's Dracula. Stoker himself had since passed away in 1912 and his works were inherited by his widow. During a four-week period of inactivity from the theater due to illness, Hamilton wrote a script for a stage production of Dracula. He then contacted Florence Stoker to secure the rights.

Dracula - The play Edit

Dracula was first brought to the stage in the Grand Theater in Derby in 1924. As an actor himself, Hamilton originally intended on playing the title role of the vampire, but the part eventually went to English actor Raymond Huntley. Deane instead placed himself in the role of Dracula's nemesis, the occult scholar Van Helsing. The play proved exdtremely successful and toured England for three years before settling in London.

In 1927, stage producer and publisher Horace Brisbin Liveright brought Deane's Dracula to the Broadway theater district in New York City. He hired John L. Balderston to revise Deane's script for American audiences. For the Liveright production of Dracula, the lead roles of Dracula and Van Helsing were recast. Dracula was played by a young Hungarian actor named Béla Lugosi while the part of Van Helsing was played by Edward Van Sloan. The show ran for a year on Broadway and for two more years on tour, breaking all previous records for any show put on tour in the United States.

The revised script formed the basis of the 1931 film version of Dracula directed by Tod Browning and released by Universal Pictures. Coincidentally, Lugosi and Van Sloan reprised their respective roles as Dracula and Van Helsing and the film made Bela Lugosi into an iconic figure of the early horror films of the 1930s and 40s. Although Deane was not directly involved with the production of the movie, he did receive screen credit during the opening title crawl of the film. A Spanish version of Drácula was filmed simultaneously and released to theaters in 1931. The film was directed by George Melford and Enrique Tovar Ávalos and was nearly identical to the American version of the film but for a change of cast and several minor alterations to the script.

Legacy Edit

Hamilton Deane passed away in Ealing, London, England on October 25th, 1958 at the age of 77. His legacy lived on however as the 1927 stage production of Dracula was revived in 1977 and starred Frank Langella in the role of Dracula. The play once again proved to be immensely successfull and was nominated for four Tony Awards, winning two in the categories of Best Costume Design and Best Revival. The play was adapted into a feature film in 1979 with Langella reprising the role of Dracula.

Notes & Trivia Edit

External Links Edit

References Edit

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