Huntley, Raymond

Huntley, Raymond (1902–1990)

(pop culture)

Raymond Huntley, who had a long career on the British stage during the twentieth century, portrayed Dracula in the original Hamilton Deane play and thus became the first stage actor to assume the role. Born just after the turn of the century, the 22-year-old Huntley was already assuming co-starring roles. Deane took the “star” role in his production, that of vampire hunter Professor Abraham Van Helsing, and gave the title but lesser role of Dracula to Huntley. He first performed the role in the town of Morecambe; it was not until 1927 that the production came to London. As Dracula, Huntley dressed in formal evening clothes, a cape with a high collar, and a wig with gray streaks that gave Huntley a rather devilish appearance. The play had enjoyed great success in theaters around the country, but opened to mixed reviews in London. It was not high drama, but was entertaining theater that attracted large audiences. Huntley shared in the varied opinions of reviewers, one of whom mistook Huntley’s makeup for a mask.

Huntley would play Dracula for Deane for many years, and in 1928 was offered the role in the American production. He wanted more money than was being offered and as a result the part went to a young Hungarian expatriate, Bela Lugosi. Huntley eventually came to America to join the cast of the play touring the cities along the Eastern seaboard. He was angered when he was forced to wear green makeup for the part, and happy to return to England to resume his stage acting career. He missed the role in the movie, although Universal Pictures had no problem using him as their bargaining chip to force Lugosi to accept a very small salary for playing Dracula in the film.

Huntley escaped the typecasting that afflicted Lugosi following his stage and screen performances, and he enjoyed a long and successful career as an actor on the London stage. He also appeared in various films such as Room at the Top and Young Winston.

Sources:

Skal, David. Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1990. 242 pp.
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