June 3, 1895
Pusztatúrpásztó, Túrkeve, Austria-Hungary (now Hungary)
|Died||October 13, 1961
Hollywood, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Joan Gardner (1930-1961) (his death)|
Zoltan Korda (3 June 1895 – 13 October 1961) was a Hungarian-born motion picture screenwriter, director and producer. He made his first film in Hungary in 1918, and worked with his brother Alexander Korda on filmmaking there and in London. They both moved to the United States in 1940 to Hollywood and the American film industry.
Early life and education
Born Zoltán Kellner, Kellner Zoltán in Hungarian name order, of Jewish heritage in Pusztatúrpásztó, Túrkeve in Hungary (Austria-Hungary), he was the middle brother of Alexander and Vincent Korda. All became filmmakers. Before leaving Hungary to work full-time in London with his brother Alexander, Korda served in the Hungarian Army as a cavalry officer.
As a young man, Zoltan Korda went to work with his brother Alexander in their native Hungary and in the United Kingdom for his London Films production company. Initially Zoltan Korda functioned as a camera operator; for a time he worked in film editing and as a screenwriter. In 1918 and 1920 in Hungary, he directed two silent film shorts and a feature-length silent film in Germany in 1927.
In London, he made his English-language directorial debut with the sound drama Men of Tomorrow (1932). He gained wide respect for the adventure film Sanders of the River (1935), starring the American actor Paul Robeson and Leslie Banks. The film proved a significant commercial and critical success, giving Korda the first of his four nominations for "Best Film" at the Venice Film Festival. Korda and Robert Flaherty won the Venice festival's "Best Director" award for Elephant Boy (1937).
A former cavalry officer in Hungary, Korda made a number of military action/adventure films, many of which were filmed in Africa or India. As someone with a social conscience, his film projects often reflected that perspective when dealing with the indigenous peoples of the British Empire. Of his directorial efforts, 1939's The Four Feathers, starring Sir Ralph Richardson, is considered his greatest cinematic accomplishment. Of lasting significance, the film was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1939 Cannes Film Festival. In 2002 it was presented again by the Festival committee in retrospective.
In 1940, Zoltan Korda joined his brother Alexander in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. Working through United Artists, he served as executive producer of The Thief of Bagdad. Zoltan Korda spent the rest of his life in southern California. He made another seven films, including the acclaimed 1943 World War II drama, Sahara (1943), for which he wrote the screenplay. It starred Humphrey Bogart. His films included A Woman's Vengeance (1947) with Charles Boyer and Jessica Tandy.
Marriage and family
Korda married the British actress Joan Gardner in 1930. They were together until his death. They had a son, David. The extended family's colorful history is the subject of a book by Zoltan's nephew Michael Korda, Charmed Lives.
Poor health, brought on years earlier from a battle with tuberculosis, forced Zoltan Korda's retirement in 1955. He died in 1961 in Hollywood after a lengthy illness. He was buried in the Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery.
- Women Everywhere (1930)
- Men of Tomorrow (1932)
- Sanders of the River (1935)
- Elephant Boy (1937)
- The Drum (1938)
- The Four Feathers (1939)
- Jungle Book (1942)
- Sahara (1943)
- Counter-Attack (1945)
- A Woman's Vengeance (1947)
- The Macomber Affair (1947)
- Cry, the Beloved Country (1951)
- Storm Over the Nile (1955)
- "Variety Club - Jewish Chronicle colour supplement "350 years"". The Jewish Chronicle. 2006-12-15. pp. 28–29.
- Zoltan Korda at the Internet Movie Database
- Zoltan Korda biography and credits at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
- Photo of Korda at Find a Grave
- David Korda talks to a class of schoolchildren about his film-making family