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Ilona Massey, 1941
June 16, 1910
Budapest, Austria-Hungary (now Budapest, Hungary)
|Died||August 20, 1974
Bethesda, Maryland, USA
|Cause of death||Cancer|
|Resting place||Arlington National Cemetery|
(m.1955-1974; her death)
Early life and career
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. 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.
In 1950, Massey was one of the stars of the NBC spy show Top Secret on radio. 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."
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.
- Heaven on Earth (1935)
- Circus Saran (1935)
- Balalaika (1939)
- International Lady (1941)
- The Great Awakening (1941)
- Invisible Agent (1942)
- Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
- Holiday in Mexico (1946)
- Northwest Outpost (1947)
- Love Happy (1949)
- Jet Over the Atlantic (1959)
- 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.
- Northwest Outpost at the IMDB database, accessed June 23, 2010
- Pageant May 1953, V8 n11
- "Radio and Television Listings". Toronto Telegram. July 6, 1950. p. 13.
- Warren, Jill (April 1952). "What's New from Coast to Coast" (PDF). Radio-TV Mirror. 17 (5): 13. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
- Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7. P. 496.
- "Ilona Massey". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
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