Count Dracula’s signature black cloak and suave manner was first given to him by an Irish actor named Hamilton Deane.
The little-known Deane has been championed as an unsung hero of the global Dracula brand, and even Bram Stoker’s great-nephew is hailing him for his interpretation of the character.
Hamilton Deane was an actor from New Ross in Co Wexford in the late 1800s. He was living in London to pursue his acting career when in 1899 he met Bram Stoker.
Stoker showed him the script for Dracula, but the two never worked together as Deane moved to America and became a Shakespearian actor on Broadway.
Stoker died in 1912, and six years later Deane returned to London. He had always kept a copy of Dracula and had by now read it and re-read it “until he knew it backwards”.
He had his own vision for the production and pitched it to several leading theatres. It was initially turned down for being too wordy and involving too many characters but Deane persisted and adapted until he finally go commissioned for a show.
In 1924, at the Grand Theatre in Derby, Deane’s Dracula made its first production and the iconic collared, cloaked monster was unleashed on the world.
The show was a roaring success with audiences thrilled by the spooky depiction of the Count.
A nurse was needed to patrol the theatres to tend to audience members who had fainted at the sight of Dracula, with as many as seven patients a night needing assistance.
Deane was offered big money by American theatre companies for the production, but he sensed he was on to a winner and took the show up and down the country where it was performed to sell-out crowds every night.
Now the great-nephew of Dracula author Bram Stoker, has also paid tribute to Deane. He described him as the “unsung hero of the story and wants to raise awareness about his contribution to the iconic character.