Sunday, April 14, 2013

Miss Vilma Banky

I had a reader suggest that I do an entry about Vilma Banky, and my first reaction was to post the link to a previous entry that I did on her. But wait! Lo and behold, I am imagining things again! I never have written about her. Well, what better time to start then now!

Vilma Banky was born Vilma Koncsics on January 9, 1901 in Nagydorog, Hungary. Her father, Janos, worked as a bureau chief while her mother, Katalin, a former stage actress, was at home raising Vilma, her older brother, Gyula, and eventually younger sister, Gisella. 

After graduating, Vilma worked as a stenographer before getting her first movie role in 1919. It wasn't until 1925 though that she headed out to Hollywood. Her parents did NOT want her to go, but go she did and was met with a nice warm reception as only a Hollywood publicity team can do!

Her first American film was The Dark Angel in 1925 with Ronald Colman. She was soon given the nickname "The Hungarian Rhapsody." Why must everyone be given a nickname in Hollywood? What is really annoying to me is that people nowadays are given the nickname the "It Girl" even though the only one deserving of that title is Clara Bow in my opinion. Kim Kardashian? HELLLLLLL no!

Anyway...the next two years she spent starring alongside Rudolph Valentino, know, I wouldn't mind spending two years doing! Their first film together was The Eagle, which also starred Louise Dresser. Their second, and most well known pairing was The Son of the Sheik. Valentino actually chose her to be his leading lady because he liked her so much. 

While Vilma made a splash as a sexy, exotic lady of the screen, she didn't have a very long career.  Her last film appearance was in 1933, and it is rumored that her career ended here because her thick accent wasn't right for talking pictures. While that may partly be true, the real reason was because she was growing tired with her film career and wanted to settle down into a normal routine. 

After she retired from the screen, she spent her time working in real estate, playing golf, and working for various charities. 

Vilma Banky passed away on March 18, 1991 in Los Angeles. Apparently there were no notices of her death until almost a year after the fact, per her wishes. Vilma was mad that no one came to visit her in her final years, so she decided to 'stick it to everyone' by telling her lawyer not to make any mention of her death. Man oh man...

She was cremated and her ashes were scattered at sea.

Vilma was only married once, to actor Rod La Rocque. The two were married from 1927 until his death in 1969. They never had children. From what I have read, their wedding was quite the party in Hollywood. 

She was engaged at the time she was offered a Hollywood contract, but her fiance' was opposed to her moving to the states to pursue an acting career. So, bye bye boy!!

Only eight of films are still around and intact. 

Her brother, Gyula, worked as a writer and cinematographer for the German film industry.

When she came over to the U.S., Vilma spoke zero English. So, producer Samuel Goldwyn told her to say, "Lamb chops and pineapple" whenever a reporter asked her a question. Because...why not? Vilma became a U.S. citizen in 1929.

She was friends with Lya De Putti, Norma Talmadge, Lili Damita, Ronald Colman, Rudolph Valentino, and Leatrice Joy.

"These sheik is too rough! It is fight, then some more fight all the time. I grabbed this way and that way. I am all the blue and the black; these men they forget. The sheik is never the gentle lover. He grab my two arms. Too much love. I almost am suffocate with the kiss. I do not like that love. But the script say that and so it ees." ~~ Vilma Banky, protesting her love scenes with Rudolph Valentino in the film The Son of the Sheik.


  1. I always loved her and she was considered quite the (professional)item with Ronald Colman. I love her name and was saddened when i heard she passed away as she was one I always dreamt of meeting.

    1. It was interesting researching her because Colman's name kept popping up in connection with her. She seemed to have a lot of friends in the business, so she must have been a swell girl. I don't know what happened to her in her later years where she seemed to have been forgotten by friends and family.

  2. A nice hungarian Lady with a nice accent.


  4. when I was in high school I performed at a hospital in brooklyn for the patients and a woman in the audience told me she was vilma banky could this be true?

    1. Hmm...maybe? Guess it would depend on the year.