MARIA CORDA : AUSTRIAN, HUNGARIAN, GERMAN, AND AMERICAN SILENT FILM STAR

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Maria Corda (1898-1976) was a Hungarian actress and a star during the silent film era in German and Austria. She began her career in acting in the theaters of Budapest during the beginning period of World War I. One of her gigs was working as a dancer with the Royal Opera in Budapest. When the Austria-Hungary Empire fell apart, she began working in the film industry. She appeared in her first film in 1919 ;under the direction of Hungarian, Korda Sandor, who later changed his name to Alexander Korda. Korda was the leading movie director in Hungary and he featured her in three of his films in 1919. Maria became the most famous actress in Hungary. Hungary’s leader had Alexander seized by the secret police. Maria and her brother-in-law exerted pressure on the British Military consulate and was able to get her husband freed. The couple fled Hungary and settled in Vienna, Austria. It was in Vienna that the pair changed their names. He became Alexander Korda and she, for some unknown reason, became Maria Corda. In 1920, Alexander began directing films in Austria and Maria became an Austrian silent screen star. Alexander directed Maria in a number of films including “Samson and Delila” (1923). In 1926, the couple moved to Germany the couple teamed up again and were able to continue their film career success. The caught the attention of First National, a Hollywood movie studio. Alexander and Maria were offered a package deal to come to American and make movies. They settled in Beverly Hills. Maria did not encounter the success that she had in Europe. Her Hollywood career aspirations were crushed in 1928 by the advent of sound pictures. She knew little English and had a thick accent. In addition to her movie career, her turbulent marriage also came to an end. They divorced in 1930. Her husband returned to Europe where he had a long successful career in British filmmaking. Maria moved to New York and wrote a number of novels. She spent her later years in Switzerland. In 1942, her husband was knighted and she insisted upon being called “Lady Korda”, even though Alexander was remarried. When Alexander died in 1956, he was onto his third marriage, but that did not stop Maria from trying to claim an inheritance. Maria had an interesting personality. Writers have asserted that she was temperamental and ambitious. She had a tendency to embellish her background. She often described herself as the “Hungarian Garbo”, an opinion reflecting aggrandizement. The IMDb reports that Maria had 28 film credits between 1919 and 1929.                                                                                                                                        —–Postcard 1 was published by Ross Verlag (Berlin), The card was part of a series (no.1633/1). Note the “Fox” logo on the bottom right hand corner of the image. Maria starred in a Korda film for a Berlin based subsidiary of Fox in 1926. Therefore, this postcard is likely from 1926. The film was entitled “Madame Wants No Children”. The postcard was sold exclusively by Ballerini & Fratini of Florence, Italy.   SOLD                                                                                                                 —–Postcard 2 was published by “Europe” which I believe was based in France. It is part of a series (no.315). This photograph of Corda is risque. She is barely covering herself with what appears to be a blanket. Only her strategically placed arm shields her from crossing the risque border. At the time that this photograph was taken, Maria Corda was under contract with Mercure Film. The logo of the company can be seen in the lower right corner of the card. This photo postcard features Corda in costume for her starring role in “The Private Life of Helen of Troy (1927). The film was directed by her husband, Alexander Korda. This postcard portrait of Miss Corda is in very good condition (see scans).

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Sound IN pictures and not text on a board beside them was a big improvement–for the viewers. Interesting that she wrote novels. Any more background on that?

  2. Upon receiving your question, I embarked on a journey to discover more information regarding Maria Corda’s novels. I learned nothing about her literary foray. It seems that Alexander Korda attracted the limelight and Maria was left in the shadows. I have read in a number of places that when the couple were hired by studios, Alexander was the desired hire and Maria was just part of the package. There is much written about Mr Korda. He was a Hungarian Jew who was extremely influential in Great Britain’s film industry. It is interesting to note that Korda and Winston Churchill were friends and collaborators. In 1934, Korda signed up Churchill as a screenwriter and historical advisor. Churchill wrote script notes for Korda’s films and wrote a screenplay. With the onset on World War II, Churchill sent Korda to Hollywood to help encourage America to enter the war.If anyone is interested, there is a documentary film out there that tells the story of Korda’s and Churchill’s relationship…

  3. This is interesting! There’s a Michael Korda who wrote/writes novels and was former editor-in-chief at Simon & Schuster, whose Uncle was Alexander Korda.


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