Ilona Massey (Ilona Massey)

Ilona Massey

Actress. Ilona Massey was born Ilona Hajmassey in Budapest, Hungary to a poverty-stricken family. Her father was a typesetter who was left an invalid in World War I who inculcated in her a hatred for communism, which she would carry for her entire life. She began work as a dressmaker’s apprentice as a child and saved what money she could for singing lessons, hoping one day to be a stage performer. Mixing her singing lessons with dance, she started working as part of a chorus line, ultimately performing at the prestigious Vienna Stratsoper and making two musical films in Austria. Submitting her photo to the Vienna office of MGM, she was one of two chosen to make the long trip to Hollywood for a tryout, the other being Hedy Lamarr. She was cast with her idol Nelson Eddy and Eleanor Powell in her first movie, Rosalie, in 1937. Unable to speak English at the time, she spoke her lines phonetically; as time went on she became fluent in her second language. Her second film Balalaika, her most critically appraised and her personal favorite, paired her up again with Nelson Eddy in 1939. Although her entire career consisted of only eleven films, she is best known for two cult classics: 1943’s Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman and the Marx Brothers’ vehicle Love Happy. She branched out into other entertainment fields as well: she performed on Broadway, most notably in the 1943 revival of The Ziegfeld Follies, co-starring with Milton Berle; she had a radio show called Top Secret; and once television developed, she starred in the 1952 series Rendezvous, the next year hosting her own series, The Ilona Massey Show. 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. She was married four times in her life, the last to Donald Dawson, a United States general and one-time administrative assistant to President Harry S Truman. Retiring from public life for the most part by the late 1950s, she spent her time as a respected Washington socialite until her death of cancer. (bio by: Lysa)  Family links:  Spouse:  Alan Curtis (1909 – 1953)* *Calculated relationshipCause of death: Cancer


  • June, 16, 1910
  • Hungary


  • August, 08, 1974

Cause of Death

  • Cancer


  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • Virginia
  • USA

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