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Hungarians in Hollywood

THE HUNGARIAN CONNECTION TO HOLLYWOOD

What do Hungarians have to do with Hollywood? Quite a lot actually. Here's a chronological run-down of some of the Hungarians that have helped make film history.


Michael Curtis - Oscar winning director of Casablanca
His films during the 30's and 40's encompassed nearly every genre imaginable and some, including Casablanca (1942) and Mildred Pierce (1945), are considered to be film classics. Other credits include Captain Blood (1935), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), Four Daughters (1938, Oscar nomination), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), The Sea Hawk (1940), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942, Oscar nomination), This is the Army (1943), Night and Day (1946), and White Christmas (1954). He also directed one of Elvis Presley's most credible films, King Creole in 1958.

 

Adolf Zukor - Producer and Founder of Paramount Pictures and Loew's Theaters
Zukor started his career in the fur business, in which he made his first fortune. In 1903 he started a venture with Marcus Loew for a new chain of movie theaters. In 1912 he established Famous Players in Famous Plays, which over time evolved into Paramount Pictures, of which Zukor was president until 1936, when he was elevated to Chairman of the Board. He revolutionized the industry by organizing production, distribution, and exhibition within a single company. Zukor retired from Paramount Pictures in 1959, and assumed Chairman Emeritus position until his death at the age of 103, in Los Angeles.


William Fox - Producer and Founder of Fox Studios
Fox was a pioneering American motion picture executive who founded the Fox Film Corporation in 1915 and the Fox West Coast Theatres chain in the 1920s. Although Fox sold his interest in these companies in a 1936 bankruptcy settlement, his name lives on as the namesake of the FOX Television Network and the 20th Century Fox film studio.
Fox secured his place in movie history by commercializing talking pictures and then introducing a larger movie screen.


George Cukor - Oscar-winning director
Cukor's career flourished at RKO and later MGM where he directed a string of impressive films, including What Price Hollywood? (1932), A Bill of Divorcement (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933), Little Women (1933), David Copperfield (1935), Romeo and Juliet (1936), and Camille (1937). Cukor won an Academy Award for Best Director in 1964, for My Fair Lady. Known for his great direction of actresses, Cukor was an instrumental part of Katharine Hepburn's success, helped numerous actors in his movies win Oscars, and played an important role in Judy Garland's performance in Wizard of Oz.


Béla Lugosi - Actor
Starting as an actor in Hungary, then Germany, Lugosi came to Hollywood in the 20's and became the original Dracula, starring with his Hungarian accent in the 1931 film.

 

The Korda brothers - Alexander, Zoltán, and Vincent
Although Sir Alexander Korda is most remembered as an international film mogul for building up British cinema and becoming the first ever producer or director to be knighted, his exploits reached into Hollywood numerous times. Alexander directed numerous films in Los Angeles also, including That Hamilton Woman. His greatest successes as a producer were with The Four Feathers (1939), Q Planes (1939), The Thief of Baghdad (1940), and The Third Man (1949). He was also a majority owner of United Artists for some years.
His brother Vincent was a prolific set designer, art director, and production designer, becoming Oscar nominated on such classic films as The Jungle Book, The Thief of Baghdad, and The Longest Day. He won for Best Art Direction on Thief of Baghdad in 1940.
The youngest Korda, Zoltán, worked mostly in Hollywood as a director and producer. Most remembered for his footages shot on location in Africa, his credits include Elephant Boy (1937), The Four Feathers (1939), Jungle Book (1942), Sahara (1943), and Storm Over the Nile (1955)

 

Miklós Rózsa - Triple Oscar winning film composer
Rózsa is credited with the film scores of such classics as The Thief of Baghdad (1940), The Jungle Book (1942), Spellbound (1945), Julius Caesar (1953), Ben-Hur (1959) and El Cid (1961). Rózsa's best-known concert work is the orchestral Theme, Variations and Finale, op. 13, which was on the program when Leonard Bernstein made his conducting debut.

 

Tony Curtis - Actor
Best-known for his legendary role as a musician on the run from gangsters in Some Like it Hot (1959), playing alongside Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe, Curtis has played in more than 100 films since 1949. He is also a respected painter - his painting The Red Table was on display in the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan in 2007.

 

Peter Lorre - Actor
Peter Lorre played in the Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942), and The Raven (1963). Charlie Chaplin once called him „the greatest actor alive".

 

George Pal - Director, Cinematographer, Producer
Pal developed methods of integrating animated special effects with live action. At Paramount Studios he had his own studio with a staff of 25 filmmakers. From 1941 to 1947 he created more than 40 Puppetoon films, and received a special Academy Award for his work in 1943. He won six Oscars for Best Short Subject. Some of his more memorable films are: Destination Moon, When Worlds Collide, Houdini, The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, Tom Thumb, Atlantis, The Lost Continent, and The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.

 

Zsa Zsa Gabor - Actress
Known for her glamorous eccentricities and Hungarian temper, her more prominent films include: John Huston's Toulouse-Latrec biopic, Moulin Rouge, The Story of Three Loves (1953), The Girl in the Kremlin (1957), and the Orson Welles classic Touch of Evil (1958).

 

Ivan Tors - Producer, Screenwriter
Tors, known for underwater filming and innovations in underwater cinematography, produced Namu, the Killer Whale, Around the World Under the Sea, Hello Down There, Sea Hunt, and Underwater Warrior. He said, „If we learn to communicate with animals, there is some hope that one day we will learn to communicate with each other,"

 

Andre De Toth - Director
He was known for his tough, hard-edged western and crime pictures. De Toth is best known for the 3-D film House of Wax, which put him in a somewhat odd position since he had one eye. He directed numerous films, including Bounty Hunter (1954), and was a second unit director on Superman and Lawrence of Arabia. Quentin Tarantino dedicated Reservoir Dogs to him.

 

Joe Pasternak - Producer
Pasternak emigrated to Universal's Hollywood studio in 1936 and casted the 14-year-old Canadian singer Deanna Durbin in Three Smart Girls. The film became a huge hit and saved Universal from bankruptcy. In 1941 Pasternak moved to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where he continued to produce operetta films, featuring the rich singing voices of Kathryn Grayson, Jane Powell, and Mario Lanza. His biggest MGM success came with The Great Caruso. He continued to make musicals for MGM into the 1960s, with Elvis Presley or Connie Francis.

His career as a film producer spanned 40 years and earned him two Oscar nominations and three Golden Globe Award nominations. He retired in 1968, having produced more than ninety feature-length films as well as three Academy Award shows. For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Joe Pasternak has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 

Charles Csuri - Artist
Charles Csuri is best known for pioneering the field of computer graphics, computer animation and digital fine art, creating the first computer art in 1964. Csuri has been recognized as the father of digital art and computer animation by Smithsonian, and as a leading pioneer of computer animation by the Museum of Modern Art.

 

Andy Vajna - Producer and Hollywood Pioneer
Vajna was co-founder of Carolco Pictures, the company that made movie history when it introduced a new cinematic hero, Rambo. Other Carolco projects include Music Box, Total Recall, Air America, and Jacob's Ladder. Vajna's other credits include Die Hard: With a Vengeance, Terminator, Basic Instinct, Color of Night, Judge Dredd, The Scarlett Letter, Oliver Stone's Nixon, Evita, etc.


Vilmos Zsigmond - Legendary Cinematographer and Oscar Winner
Zsigmond was the first cinematographer to use the Panaflex camera on a movie - The Sugarland Express. His long overdue Academy Award came in 1977, for his work on Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The following year he was nominated for his dark work on Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978), and was again nominated for the powerful look he brought to Mark Rydell's The River (1983).

 

István Szabó - Director, Writer, Producer
Though for the most part he stayed home in Hungary, he won an Academy Award in 1980 for his acclaimed film Mephisto. Other recent credits include Sunshine, Meeting Venus, Oberst Redl, and Being Julia.

 

Peter Medak - Director
After leaving Hungary in 1956, Medak was signed by Paramount Pictures in 1967 to make feature films. His first feature was Negatives (1968), followed by such successes as The Ruling Class (1972), The Changeling (1980), and The Krays (1990).


Lajos Koltai - Cinematographer, Director
Nominated for an Oscar for his cinematography on Malena (2000), DoP on Being Julia (2004), and directed Evening (2007).

 

Frank Darabont - Three-time Academy Award nominated director, screenwriter, and producer.
Darabont's parents fled Hungary in 1956 during the revolution. He has directed two Oscar nominated films, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.

 

Gábor Csupó - Animator
Csupó is co-founder of Klasky-Csupo, one of the world's leading independent animation studios. He is best-known for producing The Simpsons and The Rugrats, and has won 5 Emmys and 2 Cable Ace Awards.

 

Éva Gárdos - Screenwriter, director, editor
She began her film career as an editor on 1983's Valley Girl and later worked on projects such as The Mask, Barfly, Tales from the Crypt, and Time of the Butterflies. An American Rhapsody marked Eva's debut as both a screenwriter and director.

 

Antal Nimrod - Director
After he directed and wrote the Hungarian hit Kontroll (2003), Nimrod was brought to Hollywood to direct Vacancy (2007), starring Kate Beckinsdale and Luke Wilson.

 

Mark and Áron Jászberényi - Post-production color grading
The Jászberényi brothers created the Autodesk Lustre digital color-grading system in Hungary, which was first used on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. The system has since become the market leading color-grading system in the international film industry. Mark and Áron now run one of Europe's most advanced post-production houses, Colorfront in Budapest.