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Ilona Massey

Ilona Massey


7/5/1912, Budapest, Hungary



Birth Name

Ilona Hajmassy


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Sultry former Hungarian opera and music hall performer who began her United States career in movie musicals after being discovered in Vienna by an MGM talent scout. Despite her musical background, Massey is probably best remembered today for her role as Baroness Elsa Frankenstein in the classic 1943…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • A critic once referred to Ilona as "the poor man's Marlene Dietrich."

    • Ilona once testified before Congress regarding atrocities perpetrated by the Soviets and the pro-Communist Hungarian government during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 in which Hungary attempted to throw off the yoke of Communist and Soviet domination.

    • Interestingly enough, Ilona is buried in Arlington National Cemetary next to her husband.

    • Ilona played a femme fatale in the 1949 comedy Love Happy. This film is famous for being the final pairing of the Marx Brothers as a comedy team and for serving as the film debuts of Marilyn Monroe and Bruce Gordon.

    • Ilona's final appearance on-screen was in the 1960 film Jet Over the Atlantic.

    • Ilona hosted her own variety series during the 1954-55 television season.

    • Ilona has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 1625 Vine Street.

    • The fourth time was the charm for Ilona in regards to marriage. She married former Air Force major general Donald Dawson in 1954 and they remained together until her death.

    • Ilona married and divorced third husband Charles Walker sometime in the late 1940's.

    • Ilona was married to her second husband, actor Alan Curtis, from 1941 to 1942.

    • Ilona's first husband was Nick Szavazd. They were married from 1935 to 1936.

    • Ilona was a vehement anti-Communist who once picketed the United Nations building demanding the expulsion of then visiting Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.

    • Ilona starred in the radio series Top Secret in the 1940's.

    • Ilona appeared in only 11 films during the course of her show biz career.

    • Ilona returned to her European stage roots when she co-starred with Milton Berle in a 1943-44 Broadway revival of The Ziegfield Follies.

    • During the shooting of her first American film, Rosalie, Ilona had to learn her part phonetically because she spoke no English.

    • Ilona originally went to work as an apprentice to a dressmaker. She used her earnings from that job to finance singing lessons.

    • Ilsa's father was a typesetter who became disabled from wounds received in combat during World War I.

    • Ilsa hailed from an impoverished background in Budapest. She once claimed in an interview that her family never had any meat to eat until she was seven years old.

  • Quotes

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