Ilona Massey

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The native form of this personal name is Hajmássy, Ilona. This article uses the Western name order.
Ilona Massey
Ilona Massey fsa 8b01038.jpg
Ilona Massey, 1941
Born Ilona Hajmássy
(1910-06-16)June 16, 1910
Budapest, Austria-Hungary (now Budapest, Hungary)
Died August 20, 1974(1974-08-20) (aged 64)
Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Years active 1935-1959
Spouse(s) Nick Szavazd
(m.1935-1936; divorced)
Alan Curtis
(m.1941-1942; divorced)
Charles Walker
(m.1952-1954; divorced)
Donald Dawson
(m.1955-1974; her death)

Ilona Massey, born Hajmássy, (June 16, 1910 – August 20, 1974[1]) was a Hungarian film, stage and radio performer.

Early life and career[edit]

She was born in Budapest, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Hungary). Billed as "the new Dietrich", she acted in three films with Nelson Eddy, including Rosalie (1937), and with Lon Chaney, Jr. in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) as Baroness Frankenstein. In 1943, she appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies.

In 1947, she starred with Eddy in Northwest Outpost, a musical film composed by Rudolf Friml.[2] In 1949, she starred in Love Happy with the Marx Brothers. She played Madame Egelichi, a femme fatale spy, and her performance inspired Milton Caniff in the creation of his femme fatale spy, Madame Lynx, in the comic strip "Steve Canyon". Caniff hired Massey to pose for him.[3]

In 1950, Massey was one of the stars of the NBC spy show Top Secret on radio.[4] In 1952 she began starring in Rendezvous on ABC television. The program was described in a magazine article as "a mystery-drama with plenty of glamour thrown in."[5]

Beginning on November 1, 1954, she hosted DuMont's The Ilona Massey Show, a weekly musical variety show in which she sang songs with guests in a nightclub set, with music provided by the Irving Fields Trio. The series ended January 3, 1955 after 10 episodes.


Becoming an American citizen in 1946, she remained strongly anti-communist for what she saw as the destruction of her native country, at one point picketing the United Nations during the 1956 visit of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.


Ilona Massey died of cancer in Bethesda, Maryland and is buried in Virginia's Arlington National Cemetery near her last husband, Donald Dawson, who had served in the United States Air Force Reserve as a Major General.

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ However her date of birth has also been cited as July 5, 1912 and her date of death as August 10 or 12, 1974. This article uses the dates on her gravestone, on the assumption that they are the most accurate.
  2. ^ Northwest Outpost at the IMDB database, accessed June 23, 2010
  3. ^ Pageant May 1953, V8 n11
  4. ^ "Radio and Television Listings". Toronto Telegram. July 6, 1950. p. 13. 
  5. ^ Warren, Jill (April 1952). "What's New from Coast to Coast" (PDF). Radio-TV Mirror 17 (5): 13. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 

External links[edit]