Steffi Duna

Steffi Duna (born Berindey Erzsébet; 8 February 1910 – 22 April 1992) was a Hungarian-born film actress.

Steffi Duna
Duna in Dancing Pirate (1936)
Born
Berindey Erzsébet

(1910-02-08)8 February 1910
Died22 April 1992(1992-04-22) (aged 82)
Years active1932–1940
Spouse(s)
John Carroll
(m. 1935; div. 1938)
[1]
Dennis O'Keefe
(m. 1940; died 1968)
Children2[2]

Hungarian dancer

Born in the Eastern name order in Budapest of Czech extraction and nicknamed Stefi (Stefánia) by her friends and family, Duna started dancing at the age of nine and first attracted attention as a thirteen-year-old ballet dancer in Europe. Duna made her first stage appearance performing dramatized fairy tales at the Children's Theater of Budapest. Initially opposed to the idea, her father sent her to the best schools in the Hungarian capital to learn dancing and soon she had danced in most of the capitals of Europe. In 1932, she appeared on the London stage in the revue Words and Music by Noël Coward, being one of the four actresses to create the song "Mad about the Boy".

Movie actress

When she first came to Hollywood in 1932, Duna could not speak a word of English. She made up her mind to learn quickly. Directors advised her to stay away from her Hungarian friends to speed up her learning of English. Within a few years she could speak six different languages. During the 1930s Duna played a variety of nationalities. However, despite her European background, she was often cast as fiery Latin femmes fatales in films that made full use of her exotic and glamorous persona, such as La Cucaracha (1934), the first live-action short film made in three-strip Technicolor.

She made her film debut in The Indiscretions of Eve (1932) in the starring role (along with Jessica Tandy, also making her debut). Signed by RKO Radio Pictures, Duna played "Guninana", the Eskimo wife of Francis Lederer, in Man of Two Worlds (1934).

Lederer had performed with Duna in the Berlin, Germany presentation of Die Wunderbar. In 1936, she played the part of Nedda in the British film version of Pagliacci, starring Richard Tauber. Films in which she played lead roles, such as Panama Lady (1939) with Lucille Ball, were popular but did not make her a major star. Her best remembered films include Anthony Adverse (1936) and Waterloo Bridge (1940).

Marriages

Duna was married first to the actor John Carroll, with whom she had starred in Hi, Gaucho!; the marriage produced one child, a daughter. They divorced in 1938. In 1940 she married actor Dennis O'Keefe; This marriage produced two children a son and a daughter. They remained together until his death.

Death

Duna retired from acting in 1940 and died in May 1992 of cancer at her home in Beverly Hills[3].

Partial filmography

Sources

  • Bismarck Tribune, "Steffi Duna Important Character In Picture", Wednesday, November 20, 1935, p. 8.
  • Hammond Times, "Hollywood", March 16, 1939, p. 35.
  • Oakland Tribune, "Money-Important In Marriage, Or Is It?", Sunday, November 26, 1939, p. 79.
  • Salisbury Times, "Dennis O'Keefe Picks That As Official Name", Monday Evening, August 28, 1944, p. 5.

References

  1. "Steffi Duna". www.nndb.com.
  2. "Beaver County Times - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  3. Osborne, Robert (August 17, 1992). "Hollywood Reporter". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
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