Nagydorog, Austria-Hungary [now Hungary]
Place of Death
Los Angeles, California, USA
Cause of Death
Cardiopulmonary Failure (cardiorespiratory arrest)
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. Bánky 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.
Wiki Bio Text
Date of Birth 9 January 1898, Nagydorog, Austria-Hungary [now Hungary]
Date of Death 18 March 1991, Los Angeles, California, USA (cardiorespiratory arrest)
Birth Name Koncsics Vilma
Height 5' 4" (1.63 m)
Mini Bio (1)
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. Her best-known works were with Rudolph Valentino: daughter of a Russian aristocrat in The Eagle (1925) and an Arab dancer in The Son of the Sheik (1926). Her first talking movie was This Is Heaven (1929). She toured the U.S. in "Cherries Are Ripe" with her husband Rod La Rocque in 1930-1 and, the next year, went with him to Germany to make her last film.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan
Rod La Rocque (26 June 1927 - 15 October 1969) (his death)
Trade Mark (1)
The Hungarian Rhapsody
Was an avid golfer who was still teeing off well into her 80s.
When Ms. Banky became ill in late 80s, she was upset with the lack of attention from the media and the public. So there was no offical mention of her death until late 1992.
Her wedding to actor Rod La Rocque was paid for by producer Samuel Goldwyn and was considered one of the most extravagent of all Hollywood parties at the time.
Banky spoke no English when first discovered by Samuel Goldwyn, who taught her to answer "Lamp chops and pineapple" to all reporters' questions.
Rudolph Valentino personally picked Vilma Banky as his leading lady in what would be his final film "The Son Of The Sheik".
Vilma's first talking picture, "This Is Heaven," proved an awful experience for the almost inaudible Hungarian actress. Therefore, her illustrious silent film career did not survive the change to talkies. She made her very last film only four years later, in 1933.
This Is Heaven (1929) $5,000 /week
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