Vilma Banky was born on January 9 th 1902 near Budapest, Hungary. She came from a very private family, and was raised and educated in Hungary. She was known for her beauty, and her acting career took off when she was discovered and offered a movie part by a Hungarian director in 1920. She went on to star in a number of European movies after her first shot, but her big break came when she was discovered in 1925 by Samuel Goldwyn who was on a trip to Hungary and spotted a picture of her.
Although the Hungarian studios were not keen for Banky to meet Goldwyn – they wanted to keep her in Hungary – she got to learn of the Hollywood mogul’s interest and sought him out just as he was about to leave Hungary. After taking her to dinner, Goldwyn offered her a contract that very night, and in March 1925 she found herself heading for Hollywood.
Before her arrival Goldwyn had hyped up Banky with all the press and other movie professionals. So, when she arrived people already thought she was the best thing since sliced bread. She was branded ‘the Hungarian Rhapsody’. Her first movie ‘The Dark Angel’ was a big hit. She then starred in a couple of movies with Rudolph Valentino, ‘The Eagle’ and ‘The Son of the Sheik’. Sadly, Valentino died in 1926. Banky was then contracted to work with Ronald Colman on a number of hit movies.Unfortunately, the lovely Vilma’s career started to wane when sound was introduced, as her heavy accent was very difficult to understand. She died on March 18, 1991 at St. John of God Convalescent Hospital in California, although her death was not announced until 1992 by her own request.
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