Actress. Born Konsics Bánky Vilma in Nagydorog near Budapest Hungary. Her father was a bureau chief under the Franz Josef Austro-Hungarian Empire. She was raised and educated in Budapest and had 2 younger siblings-a brother, Guyla and a sister, Agnes. Renown for her beauty and grace her friends suggested she take up acting. A Hungarian director, Bela Balogh, immediately cast her in “Im Letzten Augenblick” in 1920. She appeared in over 12 films before being discovered in 1925 by Samuel Goldwyn. He had seen Vilma in a picture postcard when he arrived in Hungary, and set out to find her. Hungarian motion picture exectives, however, wanted to keep her in Hungary knowing her value. They prevented her from meeting Goldwyn by keeping her busy day and night filming. She eventually met with Goldwyn and he immediately signed her to a contract without seeing any of her work. Vilma sailed for America in March 1925. Her contract paid her 100 dollars a week, then raised to 250 per week, and then escalated to 5,000 dollars per week. Dubbed the Hungarian Rhapsody by Hollywood after her arrival, Goldwyn soon found Vilma her first starring role in The Dark Angel, which became a sensational hit. The New York Times praised her acting as did all the fan magazines and she was on her way. She then co starred with Rudolph Valentino in “The Eagle” in 1925 and later in “Son of the Sheik” (1926), the Great Lover’s final film. In 1927, she married fellow silent film star Rod La Rocque, the wedding paid for by Samuel Goldwyn. She became an American citizen in 1929 and shortly thereafter left for MGM. Her film “The Rebel,” in 1933, turned out to be her last. She had tired of making films. She retired with Rod to Beverly Hills. The two were happily married for 44 years till Rod’s death in 1969. She lived her remaining years in solitude rarely making a public appearance. Vilma remained extremely active right up until the latter part of the 1980s. Her life came to an end on March 18, 1991 but her death wasn’t made public until 1992. Her ashes were scattered at sea where her husband’s had been.
- January, 09, 1901
- March, 18, 1991