Charles Korvin (Kárpáthy Korvin Géza) – the blacklisted Hungarian American film star

As part of our series on lesser known Hungarian Americans we introduce Hollywood star Charles Korvin. The very good looking Hungarian was a popular star of the screen in the 1940s.

Charles Korvin

Géza Kárpáthy Korvin was born in 1907 in Pöstyén, Hungarian Kingdom (today Piešťany, Slovakia) in a Hungarian speaking family with a noble lineage. Géza was fascinated with photography and filmmaking as a young man and moved to Paris to study at the Sorbonne. There he got involved in anti-Franco film projects supporting the Republicans of the Spanish Civil War.

Kárpáthy’s political views were on the left and later he was even accused of Communist sympathies. In 1940 he moved to the US to study acting and successfully debuted on Broadway using the name, Geza Korvin. Universal Studio soon discovered the photogenic actor and offered him a contract he couldn’t refuse. In 1945 he starred as a French thief in Enter Arsene Lupin under his new name, Charles Korvin.

French Poster of Enter Arsene Lupin

In 1947, Universal suspended stubborn the Korvin after he refused to play the role of a villain in Black Velvet. Korvin became independent and had no problem getting contracts. The major studios– Columbia, Paramount and 20th Century Fox–loved his athletic, chiseled looks.

Along with many other Hollywood actors Korvin was blacklisted in 1951 after he refused to cooperate with Senator Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee. With his family, he left the US to live in Klosters, Switzerland, where he maintained a second home during his life. Although he continued to make appearances on American television, it would not be until 1965 that he could return to the big screen in director Stanley Kramer’s star-studded film, Ship of Fools. (In the early 1950s the infamous Hollywood blacklist denied employment to actors, screenwriters, film directors, musicians who believed to be or to have been Communists or leftist sympathizers.)


Korvin’s studio postcard

Later Korvin appeared in television series, among them Zorro and an episode of The Honeymooners, in which he played a Latin dance instructor! Many say that early in his career Korvin was typecast by the Hollywood studios. The New York Times wrote in his obituary that he “made a career playing gentleman thieves and philandering husbands.”

Romantic lead with his regular co-star, the exotic beauty Merle Oberon.

Korvin died in 1998 at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. His wish was to be cremated and his ashes spread over the Atlantic Ocean.

György Lázár

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