Banky, Vilma (1898–1992)

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Banky, Vilma (1898–1992)

Austro-Hungarian actress. Born Vilma Lonchit in Nagyrodog, near Budapest, Hungary, on January 9, 1898; died in 1992; daughter of a prominent politician; married Rod La Rocque (1898–1969, a film star), in 1927.

Born in Budapest in 1898, Vilma Banky made her stage debut in Vienna; she then made films in Austria and Hungary starting in 1920. In 1925, photos in an Austrian shop window of the 5′6″ blue-eyed blonde caught the eye of Samuel Goldwyn who was on holiday in Europe; he tracked Banky down and brought her to Hollywood. Promoted as "The Hungarian Rhapsody," she played the female lead opposite Rudolph Valentino in The Eagle (1925) and Son of the Sheik (1926). She also teamed with Ronald Colman for The Dark Angel. Her last film The Rebel was made in Germany in 1932, but she ostensibly retired with the advent of sound. At the time, the silent-screen star, popular throughout the 1930s, spoke little English.

Banky's marriage to film star Rod La Rocque, a well-staged 1927 affair by Hollywood standards, lasted until his death in 1969. Throughout the 1940s, she was the women's golf champion at the Wilshire Country Club. Her other films include Im letzen Augenblick (1920), Galathea (1921), Das Auge des Toten (1922), Schattenkinder des Glücks (1922), Hotel Potemkin (1924), Das Verbotene Land (1924), Das Bildnis (1924), and Das schöne Abenateuer (The Lady from Paris, 1924), The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926), Night of Love (1927), The Magic Flame (1927), The Awakening (1928), Two Lovers (1928), Innocent, and the talkies This is Heaven (1929) and A Lady to Love (1930).