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David Manners; Actor Starred in 'Dracula'

January 04, 1999|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

David Manners, stage and film actor best remembered as the quarry for Bela Lugosi's "Dracula" in 1931, has died. He was 98.

Manners died Dec. 23 at a retirement care facility in Santa Barbara.

Horror films, he once said, were his "only claim to fame." He actually made about three dozen motion pictures during the 1930s, most frequently as the handsome romantic lead, and appeared regularly on stages throughout Canada and the United States in the 1920s to 1940s.

But he was best known in the horror genre. In Tod Browning's 1931 film about the eerie Transylvanian Count Dracula, Manners played John Harker, fiance of leading lady Helen Chandler as Mina. Lugosi, in the title role, chased and terrorized the young couple.

Manners portrayed half of another terrified couple of lovers in the 1932 "The Mummy" starring Boris Karloff. And Manners played a novelist with third billing to both Karloff and Lugosi in the 1934 film about devil worshipers titled "Black Cat."

Aside from horror films, Manners portrayed Katharine Hepburn's fiance in her debut film "A Bill of Divorcement" in 1932, and a year later played the lead opposite Claudette Colbert in "Torch Singer" and with Eddie Cantor in "Roman Scandals." Among Manners' other leading ladies were Loretta Young and Barbara Stanwyck, and he had the title role in the 1935 "The Mystery of Edwin Drood."

Born Rauff de Ryther Duan Acklom in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Manners studied at the University of Toronto and learned acting in the Hart House Theater in Toronto. Studio publicists later claimed that the Canadian actor was a descendant of William the Conqueror.

Manners made his stage debut in the title role of Euripides' "Hippolytus" in Toronto in 1924. During the 1920s, he also appeared on stage in New York and Chicago.

After half a dozen years in front of motion picture cameras, Manners left Hollywood for the the Mojave Desert. He appeared occasionally on stage, but spent most of his time running his ranch and writing novels.

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