Place of Death
Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
The Hungarian Rhapsody
Profile Bio Text
She began appearing in films in 1919, her first film being Im Letzten Augenblick, directed by Carl Boese in Germany. On a trip to Budapest in 1925, Hollywood film producer Samuel Goldwyn discovered the violet-eyed, blonde beauty and signed her to a contract. Her father was strongly against Vilma`s career as was her fiancé, but acting had become something that she loved. She left behind her intended husband in Hungary, sailing for America in early March 1925.
She was hailed as "The Hungarian Rhapsody" and was an immediate hit with American audiences. The New York Times remarked in its review of her first American film, The Dark Angel, that she "is a young person of rare beauty...so exquisite that one is not in the least surprised that she is never forgotten by Hillary Trent"  (the movie`s main male character who decides to allow his family and fiancee to believe him dead rather than place what he perceives as the burdon on them of a life caring for a blinded war veteran). She appeared opposite silent greats Rudolph Valentino in The Eagle (1925) and The Son of the Sheik (1926) and Ronald Colman in a series of fantastic love stories, including The Dark Angel and The Winning of Barbara Worth. Prior to Valentino`s death, he and Bánky were close friends, and although affairs were rumored throughout Hollywood, there were just that - rumors. Bánky realized he needed a friend more than anything. Her other close Hollywood friends included Victor Varconi, Gloria Swanson, Lya de Putti, Lily Damita, and Leatrice Joy. It is commonly believed that her thick Hungarian accent cut her career short with the advent of sound, however she began losing interest in films and wanted to settle down with Rod La Rocque, and simply be a wife. By 1928, in fact, she had begun announcing her intention to retire in a few years. Of her twenty four films, seven exist in their entirety (Der Zirkuskönig, The Son of the Sheik, The Eagle, The Winning of Barbara Worth, The Night of Love, A Lady to Love, and The Rebel) and three exist in fragments (Tavaszi Szerelem in scattered bits and the first five reels of The Magic Flame and an incomplete copy of Two Lovers).
She married actor Rod La Rocque on June 26, 1927, and was with him until his death on October 15, 1969. They had no children. From all accounts theirs was a marriage based on mutual respect and compatibility.
Her post Hollywood years were spent selling real estate with her husband and playing golf, her favorite sport. She and her husband created an educational fund for children called "The Banky - La Rocque Foundation".
Bánky died on March 18, 1991, of cardiopulmonary failure at age 93. Her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered at sea.
Full Name at Birth
Green, Black, White, Red, Pink, Orange
Has Detailed Data (New)
Vilma Bánky (January 9, 1901 – March 18, 1991) was a Hungarian-born American silent film actress, although the early part of her acting career began in Budapest, spreading to France, Austria, and Germany. Banky was best known for her roles in The Eagle and The Son of the Sheik with Rudolph Valentino and several romantic teamings with Ronald Colman.
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