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Overview:

Legendary actress, Vilma B?nky, was born Vilma Koncsics on Jan 9, 1898 in Nagydorog, Austria-Hungary (now Hungary). B?nky died at the age of 93 on Mar 18, 1991 in Los Angeles, CA and was cremated and her ashes scattered at sea off Long Beach CA.

Early Life

Vilma Banky was born Vilma Koncsics in Januray 9th, 1901 in Nagydorog, Tolna County, Austria-Hungary, now present-day Nagydorog, Republic of Hungary. She was raised in a comfortable middle class household thanks to her father, Janos, who worked as bureau chief for the Empire. Because of his job, Janos and family moved to Budapest in 1906. Vilma's mother, Ulbert, was an advocate for both the arts and education, making sure to send her child to the best schools in the area no matter what the cost. During her most formative years Vilma grew into a fairly precocious, albeit shy child. While in school she discovered her love of acting and declared one day she would her the greatest of all actresses. However, the on set of World War One would force the young girl to put her dreams on hold. Almost overnight her family went from extremely well off to relatively impoverished. After finishing high school, the actress enrolled in stenography school in order to make a living. In her spare time, Banky would audition for local stage productions.

Career

Despite the disapproval faced by Banky from both her parents, she none-the-less continued to follow her dream of being an actress. After a couple missteps on the stage, in 1919 Banky was cost in a minor role in the film Im Letzten Augenblick. Over the next few years more small roles began to come her way in films such as Veszelyben A Pokol, Tavaszi Szerelem, and Galathea, all filmed in her native Hungary. By 1922 She saved enough money to enroll at Bolvary Geza's film school. She proved to be a dedicated, diligent student and was soon cast in two German short films, Schattenkinder des Glucks and Kauft Mariett-Aktien. In the next coming years, Banky began building her reputation as an actress, receiving bigger and better roles. By 1925 Banky was now one of Hungary's biggest rising stars.

During that time American producer Samuel Goldwyn came to Europe, looking for new talent. Although the company who represented Banky at the time, Gloria Film, did everything they could from having Vilma meet Goldwyn, the two eventual found one another and sat for dinner. That night she signed a contract and a month later was headed to Hollywood.

Hollywood

When Banky arrived in American she suffered a strong amount of culture shock. She was digested by what she perceived to be a wasteful amount of spending and missed her home and family dearly. Her arrival also caused a bit of a media circuit, with each reporter trying to get his chance to talk to "The Hungarian Rhapsody." Audiences flocked to see her Hollywood debut, The Dark Angel and soon Banky was the star of an international hit. America was simply in love with their newest exotic import. She was then cast opposite another European import, Rudolph Valentino, in the 1925 film The Eagle. The two formed a fast friendship and would reunite just a year later with The Son of the Sheik. Banky then went on to star opposite Ronald Colman in the romance The Winning of Barbara Worth. The film was smash hit, thanks in to Banky and Colman's captivating performances, but also in thanks to the film remarkable special effects. She and Colman went to star in three more films together: The Night of Love, The Magic Flame and Two Lovers. In 1927 she received first billing for her films The Awakening.  

By the late 1920s the film industry was undergoing a massive change as silent picture began to be replaced by "talkies." Because of her thick Hungarian accent, the studios forced Banky to begin voice and elocution lesson in hopes of saving one of their most valuable stars. In 1929 Banky released her first talking picture, This is Heaven to less than stellar reviews. Banky had proved less than diligent with her voice lessons and thus her accent was still considered too thick by many in the audiences. She would only make three more film films before retiring in 1933.

Later Life

After retiring from the movie business, Banky settled down with her husband, actor Rod La Rocque, in Los Angles and sold real estate. She lived a quiet life; enjoying the California lifestyle while playing her favorite game, golf.  Later in her life she established the educational fund, The Banky-La Rocque Foundation, still in operation today. Vilma Banky died on March 18, 1991 of from cardiopulmonary failure. She was 90 years old.

(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).

HONORS and AWARDS:

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She was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. B?nky was never nominated for an Academy Award.

BlogHub Articles:

The Hungarian Rhapsody – Vilma Banky

By Michele on Nov 24, 2014 From Timeless Hollywood

Vilma Banky began her acting career in 1919 in Hungary. She was brought to the United States by Samuel Goldwyn in 1925 and was called ?The Hungarian Rhapsody?. She had three talkies and out of her 24 films, only 8 exist in their entirety. Her first film was The Dark Angel (1925) with Ronald Coleman.... Read full article


Happy Birthday! To Actresses: Vilma B?nky and Anita Louise (4)

By C. S. Williams on Jan 9, 2014 From Classic Film Aficionados

Vilma B?nky, known as “The Hungarian Rhapsody” was a star of the first magnitude; appearing in just 26 movies, yet, her name is written in bold letters over the history of Hollywood and her image should be indelibly pressed into the hearts and minds of film-lovers everywhere. Grace and b... Read full article


Happy Birthday! To Actresses: Vilma B?nky and Anita Louise (3)

By C. S. Williams on Jan 9, 2014 From Classic Film Aficionados

Originally posted on Classic Film Aficionados: Vilma B?nky, known as?The Hungarian Rhapsody? was a star of the first magnitude; appearing in just 26 movies, yet, her name is written in bold letters over the history of Hollywood and her image should be indelibly pressed into the hearts and minds of f... Read full article


Happy Birthday! To Actresses: Vilma B?nky and Anita Louise

By C. S. Williams on Jan 9, 2014 From Classic Film Aficionados

Classic Film Aficionados Vilma B?nky, known as?The Hungarian Rhapsody? was a star of the first magnitude; appearing in just 26 movies, yet, her name is written in bold letters over the history of Hollywood and her image should be indelibly pressed into the hearts and minds of film-lovers everywhere.... Read full article


Happy Birthday! To Actresses: Vilma B?nky and Anita Louise

By C. S. Williams on Jan 9, 2014 From Classic Film Aficionados

Vilma B?nky, known as”The Hungarian Rhapsody” was a star of the first magnitude; appearing in just 26 movies, yet, her name is written in bold letters over the history of Hollywood and her image should be indelibly pressed into the hearts and minds of film-lovers everywhere. Grace and be... Read full article


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