"silent movies" "silent
film" "silent era"
Victor Varconi was born Mihaly Varkonyi on March
31, 1896 (some sources say 1891), in Kisvarda, Hungary. He began
his career on the Transylvanian stage and soon became a matinee
idol with the Hungarian National Theatre in Budapest. He appeared
in several Hungarian and German films before being brought to
American by Cecil B. DeMille in 1923. Under DeMille's direction,
the smoothly handsome Varconi played a wealthy American tin factory
manager in "Triumph" (1924); had a character role as
a bookkeeper in the Afterworld in "Feet of Clay" (1924);
was a Russian prince in "The Volga Boatman" (1926);
and Pontius Pilate in "The King of Kings" (1927). Possibly
his most famous silent role was as the husband to Phyllis Haver's
Roxie Hart in "Chicago" (1927). His last major silent
role was as Lord Nelson in the Corinne Griffith-starring featurre
"The Divine Lady" (1929). Although he had a good voice,
his Hungarian accent limited his roles to character parts in talkies.
He appeared in many of DeMille's talking epics such as "The
Plainsman" (1936) (as an Indian chief), "Reap the Wild
Wind" (1942), "Unconquered" (1947) and "Samson
and Delilah" (1949). World War II resulted in a boost for
Varconi, permitting him to play a variety of Axis agents. As his
film career was coming to an end, Varconi turned more to stage
work and radio writing. Among his Shakespearean theatre endeavors
were roles in "Hamlet," "Romeo and Juliet,"
"Antony and Cleopatra" and "Richard III."
He also moved occasionally into TV in the 1950s, then retired.
Just before his death in 1976, Victor Varconi published his memoirs,
It's Not Enough to Be Hungarian.
Selected films of this star available for viewing:
The Volga Boatman (1926)
King of Kings (1927)
The Divine Lady (1929)
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