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Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (4) | Trivia (12) | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 16 June 1910Budapest, Austria-Hungary [now Hungary]
Date of Death 20 August 1974Bethesda, Maryland, USA  (cancer)
Birth NameIlona Hagymasi

Mini Bio (1)

Sultry, opulent blonde Hungarian singer Ilona Massey survived an impoverished childhood in Budapest, Hungary to become a glamorous talent both here and abroad. As a dressmaker's apprentice she managed to scrape up money together for singing lessons and first danced in chorus lines, later earning roles at the Staats Opera. A Broadway, radio and night-club performer, she appeared in a couple of Austrian features before coming to America to duet with Nelson Eddy in a couple of his glossy operettas. In the first, Rosalie (1937), she was secondary to Mr. Eddy and Eleanor Powell, but in the second vehicle, Balalaika (1939), she was the popular baritone's prime co-star. Billed as "the new Dietrich," Ms. Massey did not live up to the hype as her soprano voice was deemed too light for the screen and her acting talent too slight and mannered. She continued in non-singing roles in a brief movie career that included only 11 films. For the most part she was called upon to play sophisticated temptresses in thrillers and spy intrigues. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) and Love Happy (1949) with the four Marx Bros. are her best recalled. She appeared on radio as a spy in the Top Secret program and, on TV, co-starred in the espionage series Rendezvous (1952). In the mid-50s she had her own musical TV show in which she sang classy ballads. She became an American citizen in 1946. Married four times, once to actor Alan Curtis, Ms. Massey died of cancer in 1974.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (4)

Maj. Gen. Donald Shelton Dawson, USAF (Ret.) (14 July 1955 - 20 August 1974) (her death)
Charles Walker (6 January 1952 - 20 October 1954) (divorced)
Alan Curtis (1941 - 16 December 1942) (divorced)
Nicholas Szavozd (1935 - 1936) (divorced)

Trivia (12)

Former opera-singer.
Appeared, with Milton Berle and Arthur Treacher, in an edition of the "Ziegfeld Follies", on Broadway, that ran for more than 500 performances.
Submitted her photograph to the Vienna office of MGM and ended up as one of 36 European hopefuls to try out Hollywood. Only two succeeded. Ms. Massey and Hedy Lamarr.
Her hatred toward communism was notorious. In 1959 she picketed in protest when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Deputy Premier Anastas Mikoyan visited her country.
In 1954 a special subcommittee of the House of Representatives held hearings in Manhattan on communist aggression in Eastern Europe and Ms. Massey became their star witness, testifying to the rape, murder and robbery committed by Soviet agents against her Hungarian native land.
Husband #3 was Charles Walker, one-time owner of a fashionable Manhattan jewelry shop.
Built up her early reputation singing in musical halls and operettas in Hungary, Austria and Germany.
During the tabloid feud between Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, Ms. Massey was tried out as Eddy's co-star in a couple of musical films. The public was not receptive to it. Most people thought Jeanette and Nelson were married in real life and viewed this new pairing as tantamount to adultery.
Her widower, Donald Dawson, was a lawyer who was, at one time, an administrative assistant to President Harry S. Truman. He was questioned, in 1951, by Senator J. William Fulbright's subcommittee about his connections with Washington influence peddlers and RFC loans.
Since she was married to military man of high rank she is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Became a Naturalized Citizen of the United States in 1946.
She was a staunch conservative Republican.

Personal Quotes (1)

My salvation is that I have known misery and hunger. In my youth in Budapest I didn't know the taste of meat until I was 7 years old. That's how poor my family was. If I'm well fed, well-dressed and have a home, what else is there for me to want?

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