Hungary in Hollywood

Log in to copy items to your own lists.
Paul Newman
Paul Newman won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for his performance in the 1986 film The Color of Money, a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, an Emmy Award, and many honorary awards. Despite being colorblind, he won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing...
Peter Falk
Actor, Columbo
Peter Michael Falk was born on September 16, 1927, in New York City, New York. At the age of 3, his right eye was surgically removed due to cancer. He graduated from Ossining High School, where he was president of his class. His early career choices involved becoming a certified public accountant, and...
Michael Curtiz
Director, Casablanca
Curtiz began acting in and then directing films in his native Hungary in 1912. After WWI, he continued his filmmaking career in Austria and Germany and into the early 1920s when he directed films in other countries in Europe. Moving to the US in 1926, he started making films in Hollywood for Warner Bros...
Goldie Hawn
Actress, Overboard
Goldie Jeanne Hawn was born in Washington D.C., to Laura Hawn (née Steinhoff), a jewelry shop/dance school owner, and Rut Hawn (Edward Rutledge Hawn), a band musician. She has a sister, Patti Hawn, and a brother, Edward, who died before she was born. She was raised in the Jewish religion...
Kurt Kasznar
As a young man, Kurt Kasznar enrolled in Max Reinhardt's seminars. He came to the US in the mid-30s in "The Eternal Road," in which he played at least 12 roles. In 1941, he produced the New York show, "Crazy with the Heat." That same year, he was drafted into the army, where he was trained as a cinematographer and served in the Pacific...
Leslie Howard
Leslie Howard Stainer was born in London, to Lilian (Blumberg) and Ferdinand "Frank" Steiner. His father was a Hungarian Jewish immigrant, and his English mother was of German Jewish, and mostly English, descent. Leslie went to Dulwich College. After school, he worked as a bank clerk until the outbreak of World War I...
S.Z. Sakall
Actor, Casablanca
Hungarian-born S.Z. Sakall was a veteran of German, Hungarian and British films when he left Europe because of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement. In Hollywood from shortly after the outbreak of World War II, Sakall began appearing in comedies and musicals, often playing a lovable if somewhat excitable and/or befuddled uncle...
Peter Lorre
Actor, Casablanca
As a youth Peter Lorre ran away from home, worked as a bank clerk and, after stage training in Vienna, made his acting debut in Zurich. He remained unknown, traveling for several years and acting in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, until Fritz Lang cast him as the psychopathic child killer in M...
István Szabó
Director, Sunshine
Istvan Svabo was the first Hungarian director to win an Oscar (Although a Hungarian-American director, Michael Curtiz [Mihaly Kertesz], also won an Oscar previously for directing Casablanca). He received the award for his 1981 movie Mephisto. In January 2006, it became public that he had been an agent of the III/III department...
Oscar Beregi Jr.
Heavyweight Hungarian-born character actor Oscar Beregi Jr.'s best performances were on the small screen, usually as Germanic or Russian heavies. His stock-in-trade villainy was of a cultured or psychological, rather than physical nature, urbane and intellectual, yet inevitably sinister. His father...
Bela Lugosi
Actor, Dracula
It's ironic that Martin Landau won an Oscar for impersonating Bela Lugosi (in Ed Wood) when Lugosi himself never came within a mile of one, but that's just the latest of many sad ironies surrounding Lugosi's career. Bela Lugosi was born Béla Ferenc Dezsö Blaskó on October 20, 1882, Lugos...
Alexander Korda
One of a large group of Hungarian refugees who found refuge in England in the 1930s, Sir Alexander Korda was the first British film producer to receive a knighthood. He was a major, if controversial, figure and acted as a guiding force behind the British film industry of the 1930s and continued to influence British films until his death in 1956...
Zoltan Korda
Director, Sahara
A one time Hungarian cavalry officer, Zoltan Korda started working in films as a cameraman then an editor before becoming a director with London Films run by his brother Alexander Korda. Zoltan had strong liberal/socialist ideals and often clashed with Alexander, who, despite their both being born in Hungary, was a proud supporter of the old British Empire.
Miklós Rózsa
Music Department, Ben-Hur
'Miklos Rozsa' studied the violin from the age of five. In 1926, he began studying at the Leipzig Conservatory. In 1929, his violin concerto was performed there. While living in Paris from 1931, Rozsa had his 'Variations on a Hungarian Peasant Song' and his 'Symphony and Serenade for Small Orchestra' performed...
Vilmos Zsigmond
Cinematographer, The Deer Hunter
Along with László Kovács, a fellow student who fled Hungary in 1956, Zsigmond rose to prominence in the 1970s. He is known for his use of natural light and vivid use of color on features such as The Long Goodbye and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
László Kovács
Cinematographer, Ghostbusters
Ernie Kovacs
Author, actor, comedian, composer and producer. He was educated at the New York School of Theatre, and received the Sylvania Television Award. Joining the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1957, he composed a number of songs and themes, a number of which were used in his famed television comedy sketches including "Mr...
Paul Lukas
Oscar-winning actor Paul Lukas was born in Hungary and graduated from the School for Dramatic Arts. In 1916 he went to Kosice (Kassa) to be an actor; in 1918 he became an actor specializing in comedy. For ten years he was the most popular character player and romantic lead of the company. In 1918 he began making in Budapest and in the 1920s he began appearing in films in Austria as well...
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Actress, Moulin Rouge
Undoubtedly the woman who had come to epitomize what we recognize today as "celebrity", Zsa Zsa Gabor, is better known for her many marriages, personal appearances, her "dahlink" catchphrase, her actions, life gossip, and quotations on men, rather than her film career. Zsa Zsa Gabor was born Sári Gabor in Budapest...
Eva Bartok
Eva Bartok was both a beautiful lady and a talented actor whose roots were in classical theater. Her first and only film in Hungary, Mezei próféta ("Prophet of the Fields"), was banned by communist censorship. Actually her life up to that point had been marked by confusion and tragedy. Her father,a Jew who had married a Catholic lady...
Adolph Zukor
Miscellaneous Crew, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Adolph Zukor's success began with penny arcades, offering moving peepshows that evolved into nickelodeon theaters that offered longer, larger moving pictures. On July 12, 1912, he premiered the first feature-length film, Queen Elizabeth, featuring French actress Sarah Bernhardt that ran for 40 minutes...
Tony Curtis
Tony Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz, the eldest of three children of Helen (Klein) and Emanuel Schwartz, Jewish immigrants from Hungary. Curtis himself admits that while he had almost no formal education, he was a student of the "school of hard knocks" and learned from a young age that the only person who ever had his back was himself...
André De Toth
Director, House of Wax
Although he obtained a law degree from the Royal Hungarian University, Andre De Toth decided to become an actor, and spent several years on the stage. He then entered the Hungarian film industry, obtaining work as a writer, editor, second unit director and actor before finally becoming a director. He directed a few films just before the outbreak of WW II...
Joe Pasternak
Producer, Anchors Aweigh
The son of an out-of-work bookkeeper, Pasternak arrived in the U.S. from Hungary in 1921. After working in a belt factory in Philadelphia, he moved to New York where he plucked chickens and worked in a cafeteria. Becoming increasingly infatuated with the film business, it didn't take him long to find...
Lajos Koltai
Cinematographer, Malèna
Mariska Hargitay
Mariska (Ma-rish-ka) Magdolna Hargitay was born on January 23, 1964, in Santa Monica, California. Her parents are Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield. She is the youngest of their three children. In June 1967, Mariska and her brothers Zoltan and Mickey Jr. were in the back seat of a car when it was involved in the fatal accident which killed her mother...
Eva Gabor
Eva Gabor was born on February 11, 1919 in Budapest, Hungary, to Jolie Gabor (née Janka Tilleman) and Vilmos Gabor (born Farkas Miklós Grün), a soldier. Her older siblings were Magda Gabor, an actress, and Zsa Zsa Gabor, an actress and socialite. Her parents were both from Jewish families...
Johnny Weissmuller
Johnny Weissmuller was born as Peter Johann Weißmüller in Freidorf, today a district of the city of Timisoara in Romania, then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Weissmuller would later claim to have been born in Windber, Pennsylvania, probably to ensure his eligibility to compete as part of the US Olympic team...
Jerry Seinfeld
Writer, Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Betty (Hesney) and Kalman Seinfeld. His father was of Hungarian Jewish descent, while Jerry's maternal grandparents, Salha and Selim Hosni, were Syrian Jewish immigrants (from Aleppo). He moved with his family, including sister Carolyn, to suburban Massepequa...
Drew Barrymore
Producer, Donnie Darko
Since melting audiences' hearts - at the age of six - in Steven Spielberg's beloved sci-fi blockbuster, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Drew Barrymore has emerged as one of the most endearing and talented actresses of her generation. Drew Blyth Barrymore was born in Culver City, California, to actors John Drew Barrymore and Jaid Barrymore (née Ildiko Jaid Mako)...
Joe Namath
Self, Namath
The son of a steel worker from Beaver Falls, Pa., Joseph William Namath (Joe Willie) came from the rich football tradition that is in Pennsylvania. After starring for Paul 'Bear' Bryant's Alabama Crimson Tide teams in the 1960s, Namath was drafted by both the National Football League's (NFL) St. Louis Cardinals and the rival American Football League's (AFL) New York Jets in 1965...
Vincent Korda
Art Department, The Third Man
Hungarian born Vincent Korda came to Britain in the 1930s with his brothers Alexander Korda and Zoltan Korda. Vincent became a distinguished Art Director and Production Designer. Among his best works are Things to Come, The Thief of Bagdad and The Longest Day.
Rachel Weisz
Actress, The Mummy
Rachel Hannah Weisz was born on 7 March, 1970, in London, U.K., to Edith Ruth (Teich), a psychoanalyst, and George Weisz, an inventor. Her parents both came to England around 1938. Her father is a Hungarian Jewish immigrant, and her mother, from Vienna, is of Italian and Austrian Jewish heritage. Rachel has a sister, Minnie, a curator and photographer...
Erika Marozsán
Actress, Gloomy Sunday
Hungarian beauty Erika Marozsán was born in Újfehértó, a small town in the Eastern part of the country, on 3 August 1972. She had her first appearance in the successful Hungarian movie "Béketárgyalás, avagy az évszázad csütörtökig tart" and has played primarily in Hungarian movies so far. She has also starred in several German TV productions and some international productions...
Andrew Marton
Budapest-born Endre Marton began in the film industry as an editor and assistant director with Vita and Sascha Films in Vienna. Following a brief sojourn in Hollywood with Ernst Lubitsch in 1923, he returned to Germany, having being signed as chief editor by the Tobis company. He made his directorial debut with an independently produced British mystery...
Vilma Bánky
Actress, The Eagle
Vilma Bánky appeared in Hungarian, Austrian and French movies between 1920 and 1925, the year in which Samuel Goldwyn signed her, in Budapest, to a Hollywood contract. In Hollywood she was billed as the "The Hungarian Rhapsody". In the mid and late 1920s she was Goldwyn's biggest money maker, especially playing with Ronald Colman...
Melchior Lengyel
Born Lebovics Menyhért, Lengyel started out as a correspondent for Hungarian newspapers in Switzerland and became a well-known journalist, author, and critic in Germany and Austria where he published numerous plays and established friendships with Ernst Lubitsch and other German theater greats with whom he later worked in Hollywood...
Joseph Kosma
Joseph Kosma was born in Budapest. He took an interest in music at a very young age, writing an opera called "Noel dans les Tranchées" as a teenager. One of his greatest loves in Budapest was the music of Bela Bartok. Finding the political atmosphere to be more and more oppressive in Budapest, Kosma...
Jamie Lee Curtis
Actress, Halloween
Jamie Lee Curtis was born on November 22, 1958 in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of legendary actors Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis. She got her big break at acting in 1978 when she won the role of Laurie Strode in Halloween. After that, she became famous for roles in movies like Trading Places...
Laslo Benedek
Director, The Wild One
Laslo Benedek was brought to Hollywood from Hungary--where he had been a writer, editor and photographer--by MGM, and his first few films were undistinguished programmers. His third, however, was quite a bit better: Death of a Salesman, the screen version of Arthur Miller's classic play. Although trashed by critics at the time for...
William Fox
Miscellaneous Crew, Sunrise
Starting at the age 8 he had a series of jobs before starting his own business in 1900, which was sold to buy a Brooklyn nickelodeon in 1904. As the new owner with an empty house, Fox hired a coin manipulator and a barker to attract patrons into the dark 146-seat theatre. Once audiences adequately understood what moving pictures were...
George Pal
George Pal was born on February 1, 1908, in Cegled, Austria-Hungary. Later, when he was still a child, his stage-entertainer parents divorced, and he was raised by his grandparents. In 1928, Pal graduated from the Budapest Academy of Arts with a degree in Architecture and highly developed drawing skills...
Elemér Ragályi
Cinematographer, Jakob the Liar
Emeric Pressburger
Educated at the Universities of Prague and Stuttgart, Emeric Pressburger worked as a journalist in Hungary and Germany and an author and scriptwriter in Berlin and Paris. He was a Hungarian Jew, chased around Europe (he worked on films for UFA in Berlin and Paris) before World War II, finally finding sanctuary in London--but as a scriptwriter who didn't speak English...
Andrea Osvárt
Actress, Aftershock
Andrea was born in Budapest in 1979. She had lived in the countryside of Hungary until 1996 when she won the second place of the national "Look of the Year Competition" which drove her to move to Budapest. After an excellent graduation in an Italian and Hungarian bilingual high school, she spent another 5 years studying Italian culture...
Debra Winger
Mary Debra Winger was born May 16, 1955 in Cleveland, Ohio, to Ruth (Felder), an officer manager, and Robert Jack Winger, a meat packer. She is from a Jewish family (originally from Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire). Her maternal grandparents called her Mary, while her parents called her Debra (her father named her Debra after his favorite actress...
Kathleen Gati
Emmy Nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Digital Drama Series, and winner of seven Best Actress awards, a Best Supporting Actress Award and a Best Actress Nominee, Kathleen Gati was born and raised in Canada by Hungarian immigrants and was brought up in an artistic environment. Her father was a symphony conductor and her mother an opera singer...
Jean Badal
Cinematographer, Playtime
Hubert Wells
Miscellaneous Crew, Out of Africa
Mártha Eggerth
From the day she was born Martha lived in a world of music. For sure her father was a banker but he was also an amateur pianist. As for her mother, she was a housewife but also a very talented opera singer who had given up her career for the joys of matrimony and motherhood. It does not come as a surprise...
Lya De Putti
Actress, The Informer
The daughter of a Hungarian baron and countess, Lya De Putti went on to perform classical ballet in Berlin, Germany, after a brief stint in Hungarian vaudeville. She later made several films at the German UFA studios, most notably Variety, before going to Hollywood in 1926. While in America she starred in several movies, mostly in vamp roles.
Ivan Tors
Producer, Sea Hunt