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Hungarian success stories in the New World

Hungarian success stories in the New World

Though, the Europeans who first arrived in the New World – the Vikings – called it the “Land of Wine”, i.e. Vinland, vine cultivation was brought to America by the Europeans later. This happened when the United States reached the shore of the Pacific Ocean because the regions of the continent that were first conquered were not suitable for vines. But who brought the vines into California? Who else than the Hungarians and we have other interesting stories, Globs Magazine reports.

The Hungarian origins of the Californian vine stocks

Ágoston Haraszthy was born in 1812 in Futak in Bács-Kiskun County. He visited England and America for adventurousness, and he studied Native Americans, too. Due to the poor relation between the Hungarian nobility and the House of Hapsburgs, in 1840, he moved to the American Wisconsin state with his whole family where he founded Haraszthyville, now Sauk City. The settlement was also called Széptáj (Beautiful View) for some years.

The founder dealt with many things: he had bridges, mills constructed, helped the European immigrants, but from 1850, he was focusing on vine planting. He planted vines in the 226-acre territory of Sonoma in San Francisco. He named the land “Buena Vista”. In 1861, he visited Hungary again and other wine producing countries, then, he returned back with more than 300 kinds of grape. He was given imperishable merit in these years for breeding Zinfandel grape and wine. Practically, he became the father of the Californian viniculture having developed to a branch of industry of billions of dollars. His new compatriots appreciated him so much that he was elected San Diego’s sheriff. The Buena Vista vineyards operated on, however, the house on the vineyard fell into ruins and the land was slowly reducing in significance besides other large wine-growing regions until a French wine-grower, Jean-Charles Boisset purchased the viniculture. Boisset, whose family grew wine in France too, fell in love with Sonoma Valley during his childhood voyages, and he was not satisfied until he could purchase Buena Vista. The new owner not only renovated the buildings and reorganized the picturesque region but he also intended to create a special oenology that connects the present with the past. Buena Vista became the Hungarians’ meeting place. Sonoma became Tokaj’s twin town.

Those who can enter a revolving door after you, but emerge before you…

According to Globs Magazine, Zsa Zsa Gábor’s news of death was on the front page of every newspaper in last December even if she had not played in any films for years, and had been a real diva in the decades before the spreading of television. Still, Hollywood’s last celebrity had such a strong influence on the stardom that the news dealt with him even decades later. She reminds of an era when Hungarians played a crucial role in the development of what we today call Hollywood.

“It’s not enough to be Hungarian, you have to have talent too”, as reads on the Paramount’s father’s, Adolph Zukor’s door. The adage emphasizes a widely well-known fact. In the classic era of the American movie Hungarian emigrants can be found not only among founders of film empires but in almost every segment of film making. After the fall of the Soviet republic, the first major Hungarian emigration wave arrived to Hollywood mainly in the 1920s as a result of the persecution of the Treaty of Trianon and the political left wing.

For many, – including Sándor Korda, Mihály Kertész, Mihály Várkonyi – the first station was Vienna, while others arrived to the American dream factory through Berlin, Munich, Paris and London. The second more significant Hungarian emigration wave was at the time of the Second World War. These people settled in Los Angeles after the Revolution in 1956.

The Globs Magazine said, among the stars of silent films, Oszkár Beregi, Mihály Várkonyi, Ilonka Kovács (Lucy Doraine), Lia Putty (Putty de Lia), Sakall S.Z. alias Jenő Gergő (whose stage-name is “Blond Bread”), Vilma Bánky, Zs Zsa Gábor, László Löwenstein (Peter Lorre), and of course, the most famous Dracula of all times, Béla Lugosi made a career in Hollywood -just a few to highlight from the most well known names. And the fathers of other areas of the film industry have not been mentioned. For instance, Vilmos Zsigmond cameraman, János Rózsa composer, or Alexander Trauner (Sándor Trauner) Oscar Prize designer… Many Hollywood empires were lead by Eastern-European immigrants. According to the rumour, the Hungarians helped one other in succeeding in the world of film making by forming small groups; they spoke in Hungarian during shootings. William fox and Adolph Zukor alias Vilmos Fried and Adolf Cukor – it is only by chance that these two names, which, in the olden times, stood behind the two large film making corporations, Paramount and Fox, got next to each other in Hollywood’s filmmaking history. Both were born in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County to Jewish families.

The strangest thing was that this Hungarian success was better known in America for decades than in Hungary. It was not so proper talking about the Hungarian kings of Hollywood – in the 40s, because of their Jewish origin, and after the Second World War because of the Cold War situation. Thus, most of the stories exists as family legends and urban rumours. This is why it is so important that initiatives like the Hungarian Hollywood Tour started in 2016 – as according to Balázs Bokor former Consul General in Los Angeles, its initiator – set as an objective to bring back to their homeland, to south-east Hungary with memorial plaques and conferences the history of the fathers emigrated long ago.

The stars’ photographer, the photographers’ star

There were Hungarians not only among the biggest Hollywood stars and the founders of film studios but also photography has to be grateful for the Hungarian geniuses. Just like Zsa Zsa Gábor, who deceased last year, Martin Szipál spent his last years in his childhood land, though, the greatest era of his life is connected to Hollywood.

Martin Szipál’s name was associated with high-quality photography. He seemed to be an ageless, he was brimming with life even after 90, and he surrounded himself with youngsters and followed the latest trends. He was a real man of the world and a Bohemian; and his works went round the world, just like him. He learnt the essence of the profession from his father, – who was an imperial and royal photographer – then, in 1956, he emigrated to the United States where he photographed the most famous stars in Hollywood at that time for four years. His photos were a novelty in the dream factory overseas because only a few portrait photographers were known in the USA that time. Later, he told many times that he had difficulties in working together with the majority of actors because they did not really like the lens. Just like John Wayne, who claimed that he was a fun of Martin Szipál’s photo series taken about him. One of the secrets of a good portrait is that the photographee shall always watch the spectator of the photos. Besides, the representation of hands has to have a large emphasis – this was Szipál’s secret. According to the photographer alias as Martin S. Martin, namely, just like in the case of a good painting, you have to think in geometric forms at photos, too because they attract the eye. At the photos taken for commercials, mainly but not exclusively simplicity is relevant because in today’s fastened world there is not enough time to examining a photo for minutes. He returned to Hungary in 1997 and since then, he had lived here, worked with photographer journalists, and taught. He won prizes of many Hungarian and international competition several times. The Hungarian Museum of Photography guards his work in Kecskemét.

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