December 8, 1910
|Died||February 8, 1990
New York, USA
Cause of death
|Farkasréti Cemetery, Budapest|
|Years active||1939 - 1969|
|Parents||Rozália Lőrinc, Ferenc Kanczler|
|Awards||Righteous Among the Nations|
Katalin Karády (December 8, 1910, Budapest - February 8, 1990, New York) was a Hungarian actress and singer. A leading actress in Hungarian movies made between 1939–1945, she is best known outside Hungary as an awardee of the Righteous among the Nations honorific for rescuing a number of Hungarian Jews.
Katalin Karády was born as Katalin Kanczler, on 8 December 1910 in Budapest. She spent her childhood in Kőbánya district with seven siblings in great poverty. Her parents were Rozália Lőrinc and Ferenc Kanczler, a shoemaker, who Katalin remembered as an aggressive person. Helped by a charity organization, she spent five years in Switzerland and the Netherlands. After returning home, she studied in a Women's Marketing school, already famed for her beauty. With the language knowledge from previous years, her simple clothing and vigorous demand for cleanness she already stood out from her classmates. After her father's death in 1931 she married Rezső Varga, a customs official, 30 years older than herself, but they divorced after a few months.
She started acting in 1936, taking classes from Ernő Tarnay, and Artúr Bárdos. After gaining the attention of journalist Zoltán Egyed in a bar in Buda (who also proposed the name Karády) she was introduced to Ilona Aczél, a former actress, in whose acting school she learned the basics of the profession in the following three years, including singing. Karády's first performance was at the end of the 30s, in the Joób Dániel theatre. Between 1931 and 1941, she appeared in the Pesti and Vígszínház theatre in various roles.
Becoming a star
Her first movie role, Halálos Tavasz (Deadly Spring) gave her instant fame as a diva and sex-symbol, supported by her unusual, humming voice, and "femme fatale" character. In the next nine years, she appeared in 20 movies. Zoltán Egyed became her manager, and successfully created a Hollywood-like image around her, as a result, thousands of fans tried to mimic her clothing, hairstyle and behavior throughout the country. Karády's personal life was a constant topic of gossip, conflicting rumors came and gone about she being a man-eater, or lesbian. The theories were stirred up even more as she had intimate relationship with Regent Miklós Horthy's chief of secret service, István Ujszászy, who also proposed her, and bought her a villa.
After the German invasion of Hungary, authorities put a pressure on Karády with banning her songs from the National Radio, her new film Machita from theatres, and stopping the ongoing production of Gazdátlan Asszony (later the crew finished the movie with Erzsi Simor). In 1944 she was arrested with allegations that she spied for the Allied Forces. Karády was in prison for 3 months, during which she was tortured, and nearly beaten to death. She was rescued by friends of major general Ujszászy, in dire condition both physically and emotionally. Despite mishaps, she carried on with life in the war-torn capital, even rescuing numerous families at the bank of the Danube waiting to be shot by Arrow Cross guards in exchange for personal belongings and gold, which she saved from her robbed apartment. She took a number of children home to care for them until the fighting stopped. In the summer of 1945 came the news from Moscow that general Ujszaszy was dead (later evidence showed that at that time he was still alive). Suffering from nervous breakdown, she lay in bed for the following nine months.
After the war, Karády became increasingly disregarded. Between 1945-48 she appeared in the Operettszínház in a few leading roles, the restarting Hungarian film production did not count on her (besides two movies, Forró mezők being her last). Being a popular star of the Horthy era, there was no place for her under the new communist rule. In 1949, all of her films were banned along with her theater appearances. Only being able to work at small venues in the countryside, often with a drunk audience, she left the country in 1951 permanently. First she lived in Salzburg, Austria, then moved to Switzerland, and after a year to Brussels. In 1953, she lived in São Paulo, Brazil, opening a fashion shop. In 1968, finally receiving a visa after Ted and Robert Kennedy intervened, she moved to New York, opening a hat salon. Performing rarely for friends only, she lived in retirement, refusing to appear in the media. Receiving a governmental invitation at her 70th birthday to return to Hungary, she only sent a hat, baffling officials. She died on 8 February 1990. At 19 February her body was transferred to Hungary, a memorial service was held in Budapest at the St. Stephen's Basilica, after she was buried in the Farkasréti Cemetery.
The 2001 film Hamvadó Cigarettavég by Péter Bacsó is dedicated to her memory. In 2004, for her courageous acts during World War II, she received the posthumous Righteous medal from the Yad Vashem Institute.
- Halálos tavasz (1939) - (Deadly Spring)
- Erzsébet királyné (1940) - (Queen Elizabeth)
- Hazajáró lélek (1940) - (Homecoming soul)
- Egy tál lencse (1941) - (A dish of lentils)
- Ne kérdezd, ki voltam (1941) - (Do not ask who I was)
- Kísértés (1941) - (Temptation)
- A szűz és a gödölye (1941) - (A virgin and a kid)
- Szíriusz (1942) - (Sirius)
- Tábori levelezőlap (short) (1942) - (Camp Postcard)
- Halálos csók (1942) - (Deadly kiss)
- Csalódás (1942) - (Disappointment)
- Alkalom (1942) - (Occasion)
- Valahol Oroszországban (short) (1942) - (Somewhere in Russia)
- Külvárosi őrszoba (1942) - (Suburban guard room)
- Egy szív megáll (1942) - (A heart stopped)
- Ópiumkeringő (1942) - (Opiumwaltz)
- Makrancos hölgy (1943) - (The Taming of the Shrew)
- Valamit visz a víz (1943) - (Something in the water)
- Szováthy Éva (1943) - (Eva Szováthy)
- Boldog idők (1943) - (Happy Times)
- Machita (1943–44) - (Machita)
- Hangod elkísér (short) (1944) - (Your voice accompanied me)
- Betlehemi királyok (short) (1947) - (Kings of Bethlehem)
- Forró mezők (1948) - (Hot fields)
- László Kelecsényi. Karády Katalin Budapest:Magyar Filmtud. Int. és Filmarchívum, 1983. ISBN 963-563-157-X
- Biography on szineszkonyvtar.hu
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Katalin Karády.|
- Lyrics of Katalin Karády songs on zeneszoveg.hu
- Katalin Karády on Port.hu
- Katalin Karády at the Internet Movie Database
- Katalin Karády at Find a Grave