Wilde in Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
|Born||Kornél Lajos Weisz
October 13, 1912
Prievidza, Hungary (now Slovakia)
|Died||October 16, 1989
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Leukemia|
|Resting place||Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California|
|Other names||Clark Wales, Jefferson Pascal|
|Spouse(s)||Patricia Knight (m. 1937–51)(divorced) 1 child
Jean Wallace (m. 1951–81) (divorced) 1 child
|Children||Wendy Wilde (b. 1943)
Cornel Wallace Wilde Jr. (b. 1967)
Cornel Wilde (October 13, 1912 – October 16, 1989) was a Hungarian-American actor and film director.
Wilde's acting career began in 1935, in which year he made his debut on Broadway. In 1936, he began making small, uncredited appearances in films. By the 1940s, he had signed a contract with 20th Century Fox, and by the mid-1940s he was a major leading man. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in 1945's A Song to Remember. In the 1950s, he moved to writing, producing and directing films, but still continued his career as an actor.
Kornél Lajos Weisz was born in 1912 in Prievidza, Hungary (now Slovakia), although his year and place of birth are usually and inaccurately given as 1915 in New York City. His Hungarian Jewish parents were Vojtech Weisz (Americanized to Louis Bela Wilde) and Renée Mary Vid. He was named for his paternal grandfather, and upon arrival in the U.S. at age 7 in 1920, his name was Americanized to Cornelius Louis Wilde.
A talented linguist and an astute mimic, he had an ear for languages which became apparent later in his acting career. Wilde attended the City College of New York as a pre-med student, completing the four-year course in three years and winning a scholarship to the Physicians and Surgeons College at Columbia University.
He qualified for the United States fencing team prior to the 1936 Summer Olympic Games, but quit the team just prior to the games in order to take a role in the theater. In preparation for an acting career, he and his new wife Marjory Heinzen (later to be known as Patricia Knight) shaved years off their ages, three for him and five for her. As a result, most publicity records and subsequent sources wrongly indicate a 1915 birth for Wilde.
After study at Theodora Irvine's Studio of the Theatre, Wilde began appearing in plays in stock and in New York. He made his Broadway debut in 1935 in Moon Over Mulberry Street. He wrote a fencing play, Touché, under the pseudonym Clark Wales in 1937. Wilde was hired as a fencing teacher by Laurence Olivier for his 1940 Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet and was given the role of Tybalt in the production. His performance in this role netted him a Hollywood film contract.
He had several small film roles until he played the role of Frédéric Chopin in 1945's A Song to Remember, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor. In 1945 he also starred in A Thousand and One Nights with Evelyn Keyes. He spent the rest of the decade appearing in romantic and swashbuckling films, but he also appeared in some significant films noirs, opposite Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven (1945), Road House (1948), and Shockproof (1949), the latter film also starring his then-wife Patricia Knight. In 1946 he was voted the 18th most popular star in the US, and in 1947 25th.
In the 1950s, Wilde created his own film production company that was named after Theodora Irvine and produced the film noir The Big Combo (1955). Wilde played the male lead alongside his second wife Jean Wallace. That same year, he appeared in an episode of I Love Lucy as himself. In 1957, he guest-starred on an episode of Father Knows Best as himself. Also in 1957, he played the role of the 13th century Persian poet Omar Khayyám in the film Omar Khayyam.
He produced, directed, and starred in The Naked Prey (1965), in which he played a man stripped naked and chased by hunters from an African tribe affronted by the behavior of other members of his safari party. The original script for The Naked Prey was largely based on a true historical incident about a trapper named John Colter being pursued by Blackfeet Indians in Wyoming. Lower shooting costs, tax breaks, and material and logistical assistance offered by Rhodesia convinced Wilde and the other producers to shoot the film on location in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
During the early 1970s, Wilde took a break from motion pictures and theater to turn toward television. He appeared as an unethical surgeon in the 1971 Night Gallery episode "Deliveries in the Rear" and portrayed an anthropologist in the 1972 TV movie Gargoyles. He returned to film shortly thereafter and wrote, directed, and starred in the exploitation film Sharks' Treasure, a 1975 film intended to capitalize on the "Shark Fever" popular in the mid-1970s in the wake of the success of Peter Benchley's Jaws.
He married the actress Jean Wallace in 1951. Wallace, formerly married to actor Franchot Tone, co-starred with Wilde in several films including The Big Combo (1955), Lancelot and Guinevere, aka Sword of Lancelot (1963), and Beach Red (1967). Her two children from her marriage to Franchot Tone became Wilde's stepsons. They also had a son together, Cornel Wallace Wilde Jr. (born December 19, 1967). They divorced in 1981.
Wilde died of leukemia three days after his 77th birthday. He was survived by his daughter and son; two stepsons, Pascal Franchot Tone and Thomas Jefferson Tone; and three grandchildren. Wilde is interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, Los Angeles.
- High Sierra (1941)
- Manila Calling (1942)
- Life Begins at Eight-Thirty (1942)
- Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
- A Song to Remember (1945)
- A Thousand and One Nights (1945)
- The Bandit of Sherwood Forest (1946)
- Centennial Summer (1946)
- Forever Amber (1947)
- The Homestretch (1947)
- It Had to Be You (1947)
- Road House (1948)
- Shockproof (1949)
- Swiss Tour (1949)
- Two Flags West (1950)
- Operation Secret (1952)
- At Sword's Point (1952)
- California Conquest (1952)
- The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
- Treasure of the Golden Condor (1953)
- Star of India (1954)
- Woman's World (1954)
- Passion (1954)
- The Big Combo (1955)
- Storm Fear (1955)
- The Scarlet Coat (1955)
- Hot Blood (1956)
- Omar Khayyam (1957)
- Edge of Eternity (1959)
- Lancelot and Guinevere (1963)
- The Naked Prey (1965)
- Beach Red (1967)
- The Comic (1969)
- Gargoyles (TV movie) (1972)
- Sharks' Treasure (1975)
- The Norseman (1978)
- The Fifth Musketeer (1979)
|1952||Hollywood Star Playhouse||The End of Aunt Edlia|
|1953||Cavalcade of America||Down Brake|
- United States Census 1930; Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1576; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 1009; Image: 1057.0. This record dated April 9, 1930, gives Wilde's birthplace as Hungary and his birth year as approximately 1912
- United States Census 1930; Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1576; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 1009; Image: 1057.0. This record dated April 9, 1930, gives Wilde's birthplace as Austrian-Hungarian Empire and his birth year as approximately 1912. Furthermore it indicates his immigration to the U.S. in 1920.
- List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States, S.S. Noordam, Passengers Sailing from Rotterdam, May 4, 1920, New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. iProvo, Utah, 2010.
- Air Passenger Manifest, Transcontinental and Western Air, Inc. Flight 971/05, December 5, 1948. New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. Provo, Utah, 2010. In this immigration record, Wilde gives his birthplace as Hungary and his birth year as 1912.
- Peter B. Flint (October 17, 1989). "Cornel Wilde, 74, a Performer and Film Producer". The New York Times.
- "Actor-Director Cornel Wilde Dies at 74". The Los Angeles Times. October 16, 1989.
- Rhinelander Daily News, June 26, 1945, p. 4
- Ingram, Frances Cornel Wilde: Gentle Swashbuckler, Classic Images, February 5, 2009
- "Cornel Wilde, Evelyn Keyes In New Technicolor Arabia". Christian Science Monitor. 1945-07-13. p. 4.
- Bing's Lucky Number: Pa Crosby Dons 4th B.O. Crown By Richard L. Coe. The Washington Post (1923-1954) [Washington, D.C] 03 Jan 1948: 12.
- Kirby, Walter (December 14, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 54.
- Kirby, Walter (January 11, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 42. Retrieved June 19, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
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