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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

From Hungary to the World

"Cultural Mosaics" by Timi, writing from Budapest, Hungary

I was browsing the English Wikipedia when I stumbled upon a very important discovery: Hollywood is not American at all. And you know what? It's Hungarian!

Hungarian Hollywood

You couldn't imagine the glitterati in Hollywood that have Hungarian blood flowing in their veins; we Hungarians don't know about it, either. Of course, we know that Tony Curtis is 100% Hungarian by birth and that without Adolph Zukor there wouldn't be Paramount Pictures and therefore no Hollywood, as it was the first film studio. But did you know that Drew Barrymore is half-Hungarian? Or that even Steven Spielberg has Hungarian blood? That Michael Curtiz (Kertész), the director of everyone's favourite Casablanca was Hungarian by birth? That My Fair Lady's Hungarian director, George Cukor was hired to direct Gone With The Wind but was replaced after two years of hard work of preproduction but continued to coach Vivien Leigh during the shootings?

And this is just the beginning of the list. Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Golden Globe winner Mariska Hargitay, Jamie Lee Curtis, Academy Award winner Adrian Brody, and even Paul Newman is of Hungarian descent. And these are just the actors. Behind the camera we have Academy Award winning cinematographers like Vilmos Zsigmond, Rugrats animator Gabor Csupo, producer Andrew G. Vajna (Rambo series, Die Hard 3, Terminator 3), screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (Showgirls, Basic Instinct)... and the list goes on and on.

From Hungary to the World

Out of Hollywood, too, you can find influential Hungarians in all fields of art and fame. Musicians like Paul Simon, Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), Gene Simmons (KISS), Alanis Morrisette are Hungarians in one way or another. Béla Bartók was one of the major composers of his age, and Zoltán Kodály's ideas inspired the creation of a new method to teach music, now known as the Kodály Method. Politicians like the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy or George Pataki, former governor of New York are also linked to Hungary. Scientists like John von Neumann, without whom the personal computer wouldn't exist, Albert Szent-Györgyi (vitamin C), Leo Szilard (nuclear chain reaction), Ede Teller (hydrogen bomb) have made important contributions to modern science. Without Laszlo Biro we probably wouldn't have ballpoint pens, without Ernő Rubik millions of children and adults would be deprived of the Rubik's Cube.

So, even a small nation like Hungarians can influence the world, let it be art, politics or science.

And finally, let me tell you an anecdote I read somewhere:

Frustrated by the lack of hard evidence of the existence of extra-terrestrials, firm believer and physicist Italian Enrico Fermi had reasoned that advanced civilizations should by now have filled the galaxy. Coming downstairs for lunch one afternoon at Los Alamos, he blurted out his now-famous question, "Where are they?"

"They are among us," it is reported that Hungarian-born physicist Leo Szilard responded, "but they call themselves Hungarians."

See? Hungarians are "out of this world" after all!

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