Borland, Caroll

Borland, Caroll (1914–1994)

(pop culture)

Caroll Borland, the female star of the film Mark of a Vampire (1935), graced audiences with her presence opposite costar Bela Lugosi. Born in Fresno, California, Borland developed a love for acting in her early teens. In 1929 she saw Lugosi perform in the stage production of Dracula in Oakland, California, and became infatuated with him. She wrote a short novella as a sequel to Dracula called Countess Dracula which concerns two couples who find their way to Castle Dracula. According to the script, they meet the Count, who tells them of the death of his “sisters” and hence his solitary existence. Borland subsequently contacted Lugosi, who invited her to join him for breakfast at his hotel. She later did a reading of her story for him.

While Lugosi was in Hollywood making Dracula, Borland was finishing high school and winning the California Young Shakespearean Actress Award. Her prize included a scholarship to the University of California. She did not remain long in school. Lugosi invited her to take the part of Lucy in a revival of the Dracula play, which was produced following the success of the movie. The tour, while brief, established their relationship, and in 1934 she auditioned for the part of Luna in Mark of a Vampire. Lugosi assisted her in landing the part (which included an under-the-table bribe). The part included only one line of dialogue, but the image created of the female vampire became one of the most memorable among 1930s films, and is sometimes cited as the direct inspiration of Morticia Addams (of TheAddams Family), and later of Vampira and Elvira.

Borland suffered for her role in Mark of a Vampire. Rumors circulated that she could not handle dialogue and hence she was offered only bit parts in the years to follow. She married, left acting, and became a teacher. Her novel was finally published shortly after her death in 1994.


Borland, Caroll. Countess Dracula. Absecon, NJ: MagicImage Filmbooks, 1994. 143 pp.