Lili Darvas Poster

Trivia (18)

Was nominated for Broadway's 1971 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for "Les Blancs."

Her last movie was "Szerelem" (1971), for which she got a special award at the film festivals of Cannes.

She became a successful stage actress and she toured through Europe in the 20s performing classics by Shakespeare, Goethe and others.

She performed with Reinhardt's company in Vienna and Berlin and at the Salzburg Festival until 1938. Her roles included Beatrice in Much Ado about Nothing, Lady Milford in Kabale und Liebe, Vivie in Mrs. Warren's Profession, and Sadie Thompson in Rain.

When Reinhardt's company traveled to New York in 1927, Darvas appeared as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream, as Faith in Jedermann, Lucille in Danton's Tod, and Beatrice in The Servant of Two Masters. Like other actors in the Reinhardt company, she gravitated to film work in the 1930s. Toward the end of her prewar European career, she played the title role in the film Marie Baskirchev (1936). Her next significant movie role would be in the MGM all-star musical Meet Me in Las Vegas in 1956.

Darvas died on July 22, 1974. Theater critic Harold Clurman summed up her talent: "Lili Darvas' pulsating heartiness, a kind of paprika which flavors the dismal and obscene with the dignity of sound human instincts, is a cause for rejoicing.".

Darvas began her career at the theater, first in Budapest where she made debut as Julia in "Romeo and Juliet" (1926), later in Germany as well where she played for Max Reinhardt.

When she returned to Austria she continued her stage career, beside it she appeared in one more movie - "Tagebuch der Geliebten" (1935). The movie war directed by Heinrich Kosterlitz who later became famous in the USA as Henry Koster, the actors in the movie were Attila Hörbiger, S.Z. Szakall and Frida Richard.

Darvas's particular strength was her acting range. She combined the fetching qualities of an ingénue with the depth and mature allure of an experienced woman of the world. In 1938, she left Europe, immigrating to the United States, where she became a citizen in 1944.

Darvas appeared in a range of modern and classical works and became one of Budapest's leading actors.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Darvas worked steadily on the New York stage. She returned to Budapest to perform in a revival of Olympia in 1965 and made the film Love there five years later. Her last major Broadway stage role was that of Madame Neilsen in Les Blancs in 1970.

When Austria became integrated into the German Reich, Lili Darvas fled to Switzerland because she had a Jewish background. From there she went to the USA where she had good contacts thanks to her engagements in the 20s and in 1944 she got the American citizenship. There she was able to continue her work on stage and got offered thankful roles.

Her husband Ferenc Molnar wrote some plays especially for her, among them "Olympia", "Riviera" and "The Girl from Trieste".

From the 50s she also appeared regular in front of the camera, mostly for TV productions of popular serials.

When she came to the USA she not only was successful on Broadway with the play "A Midsummer Night's Dream" but also took part in her first movie "Camille" (1926) at Paul Robeson's, Pauline Starke's and Anita Loos's side. She and her husband, the famour writer Ferenc Molnar, were celebrated in the USA and even a visit with the than US president Calvin Cooldige was organized.

In 1926, Darvas joined the acting troupe of the German impresario Max Reinhardt, even though she had learned to speak German only two years earlier, by reciting classical German verse plays for hours at a time.

In 1944, she made her Broadway debut as Peter Gray, the women's page editor of the Herald Tribune, in the play Soldier's Wife. Her performance led critic George Jean Nathan to praise her performance even as he wondered what a Hungarian was doing on the staff of that newspaper. The following season, she played Gertrude in Maurice Evans's famous "G. I." production of Hamlet.

In 1951, she began a television career that would lead to roles in over a hundred programs. Her most significant television performance was in the title role of the National Educational Television Opera Theatre production of Rachel La Cabana in 1973.