Hungarian

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Hungary not only has a fixation for moustaches and vodka, but also for great minds and unsurpassable talents. One of the best eastern European cities, Hungary has been home to some of world's mind-boggling magicians (Harry Houdini), jaw-droppingly beautiful move actors (Zsa Zsa Gabor), enticing pianists (Franz Liszt), authors (Noemi Ban), entrepreneurs (George Soros), chess players (Susan Polgar) and lot many other rich and famous people. Not just that, Hungary has also produced a wad of Noble prizewinners that has fetched the country an enviable standing in the world. It is because of these heavily talented and exceptionally resourceful men and women that Hungary owns a coveted spot among its peer countries. Let us delve deep into the rich and inspiring lives of some of Hungary's greatest people in the timeline, trivia, and interesting facts included in the biographies below. Rest assured each biography would make for a worthy read.
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 1 
John von Neumann
(Great Mathematician Who Were Equally at Home in Pure and Applied Mathematics)
John von Neumann
14
Birthdate: December 28, 1903
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: February 8, 1957
Hungarian-American scientist John von Neumann contributed to the development of game theory and the concept of self-replication. His work covered vast areas including math, economics, physics, and computer science. His research on nuclear physics led him to be part of the advisory committee of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.
 2 
Franz Liszt
(Composer, Pianist and Teacher of the Romantic Era)
Franz Liszt
9
Listed In: Musicians
Birthdate: October 22, 1811
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Raiding, Austria
Died: July 31, 1886

Franz Liszt was a Hungarian composer, conductor, arranger, music teacher, and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era. Considered one of the greatest pianists ever, Liszt's works influenced his contemporaries and successors alike. Perhaps his greatest legacy is his work as a teacher, although his rich body of work might suggest otherwise; he taught people like Karl Klindworth among other pianists.

 3 
Barbara Palvin
(Fashion Model)
Barbara Palvin
10
Listed In: Fashion
Birthdate: October 8, 1993
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Hungarian model Barbara Palvin gained fame after appearing in the 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She was later named a Victoria's Secret Angel. She has modeled for top-notch brands such as Prada and Chanel. She was also seen as Greek mythological figure Antimache in the 2014 film Hercules.
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 4 
Ferenc Puskás
(Football player Forward, Attacking Midfielder)
Ferenc Puskás
11
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: April 1, 1927
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: November 17, 2006
 5 
Bela Bartok
(One of the Most Important Composers of the 20th Century)
Bela Bartok
7
Listed In: Musicians
Birthdate: March 25, 1881
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sânnicolau Mare, Romania
Died: September 26, 1945

Bela Bartok was a Hungarian pianist, composer, and ethnomusicologist. Widely regarded as one of the 20th century's most prominent composers, Bartok is also counted among Hungary's greatest composers of all time. He is credited with co-founding comparative musicology, which came to be known as ethnomusicology.

 6 
Paul Erdős
(Mathematician)
Paul Erdős
6
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: March 26, 1913
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Budapest, Austria-Hungary
Died: September 20, 1996

Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős spent most of his childhood at home, due to his mother’s overprotectiveness after his sisters died of scarlet fever. Known for his eccentricity, he used his own vocabulary. His contributions include the Ramsey theory, and he skipped many university job offers to continue working independently.

 7 
Harry Houdini
(Illusionist and Stunt Performer Known for His Sensational Escape Acts)
Harry Houdini
23
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: March 24, 1874
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: October 31, 1926

Legendary magician Harry Houdini initially worked as a trapeze artist named “Ehrich, the Prince of the Air” and was later known for his iconic stunt of escaping from handcuffs, at times even under water and while buried alive. He died after a blow to the gut damaged his appendix.

 8 
Zsa Zsa Gabor
(Actress & Socialite)
Zsa Zsa Gabor
16
Birthdate: February 6, 1917
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: December 18, 2016
Zsa Zsa Gabor was a stage actor and also became Miss Hungary before she moved to the U.S. Fans loved her in Moulin Rouge and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3. She was known for her flamboyant lifestyle and her nine marriages, including one to hotelier Conrad Hilton. 
 9 
Elizabeth Báthory
(Hungarian Noblewoman and Serial Killer)
Elizabeth Báthory
34
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: August 7, 1560
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nyírbátor, Hungary
Died: August 21, 1614
Known as The Blood Countess and Countess Dracula, Elizabeth Báthory was a Hungarian noblewoman who was accused of killing at least 650 young women from 1590 to 1610. She was also accused of cannibalism and bathing in the blood of her victims. She evaded punishment and died in house arrest.
 10 
Tommy Ramone
(Best Known as the Drummer for the Influential Punk Rock Band the ‘Ramones’)
Tommy Ramone
4
Listed In: Musicians
Birthdate: January 29, 1949
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: July 11, 2014

Tommy Ramone was a Hungarian-American record producer, musician, and songwriter. For four years, he served as the drummer for the punk rock band the Ramones. The band was often cited as the first true punk rock group and was highly influential. Even though he left the group in the late 1970s, he maintained good relations with his former bandmates. 

 11 
Judit Polgár
(Chess player)
Judit Polgár
2
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: July 23, 1976
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
 12 
Ignaz Semmelweis
(Physician)
Ignaz Semmelweis
7
Listed In: Physicians
Birthdate: July 1, 1818
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tabán, Budapest, Hungary
Died: August 13, 1865

Almost 2 decades before germ theory was laid down, Ignaz Semmelweis became the first physician to suggest that hand-washing could prevent the spread of puerperal fever and related deaths. Ironically, after being ridiculed for his theory, he died in a mental asylum, due to an infection from a wound.

 13 
Joseph Pulitzer
(Journalist & Publisher)
Joseph Pulitzer
7
Birthdate: April 10, 1847
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Makó
Died: October 29, 1911

Joseph Pulitzer was a newspaper publisher who became a national figure in the Democratic Party after crusading against corruption and big business. Pulitzer is also credited with founding the Columbia School of Journalism. The world-renowned Pulitzer Prizes, which are awarded annually to reward excellence in various fields, are named in his honor.

 14 
Bela Lugosi
(Best Known for His Role as 'Count Dracula' in the 1939 Film ‘Son of Frankenstein’)
Bela Lugosi
6
Birthdate: October 20, 1882
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lugoj, Romania
Died: August 16, 1956
Hungarian-American actor Bela Lugosi is best remembered for his iconic performance as Dracula on Broadway and in the 1931 film of the same name, based on Bram Stoker’s novel. He also appeared in films such as The Black Cat, The Raven, and Son of Frankenstein, along with Boris Karloff.
 15 
Robert Capa
(Photographer, Photojournalist)
Robert Capa
5
Birthdate: October 22, 1913
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: May 25, 1954

Robert Capa was a Hungarian-American photojournalist and war photographer. Regarded as the greatest adventure and combat photographer of all time, Robert Capa is best remembered for covering five major wars, namely Second Sino-Japanese War, Spanish Civil War, World War II, First Indochina War, and the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. In 1947, he was honored with the prestigious Medal of Freedom.

 16 
Peter Lorre
(Best Known for His Role as the Psychotic Child Murderer in the Thriller Film ‘M’)
Peter Lorre
13
Birthdate: June 26, 1904
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Ružomberok, Slovakia
Died: March 23, 1964
Hungarian-American actor Peter Lorre went from stage-acting in Vienna to working in films in Germany. He soared to fame with the films M and The Man Who Knew Too Much. He left Germany during the Nazi rule. Fans loved him as Le Chiffre in the TV version of Casino Royale.
 17 
Mickey Hargitay
(Hungarian-American Actor and the 1955 Mr. Universe)
Mickey Hargitay
7
Birthdate: January 6, 1926
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: September 14, 2006
Former Mr.Universe, Mickey Hargitay made his way into showbiz with Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? Husband of actress Jayne Mansfield, he was also a proficient football player. He earned the Joe Weider Lifetime Achievement Award; he was the first one to recieve that honor. During World War II, he was an underground fighter.
 18 
Ilona Staller
(Hungarian Former Pornographic Actress and Member of the Chamber of Deputies (1987 - 1992))
Ilona Staller
10
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: November 26, 1951
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary

Ilona Staller is a former porn star, singer, and politician. She achieved popularity by appearing in Telefono rosso, the first Italian hardcore pornography production, and then went on to pose nude in Playboy's editions around the world. In 1980, an erotic series titled La Cicciolina was made based on Ilona Staller's life and career.

 19 
Georg Solti
(Hungarian-British Orchestral and Operatic Conductor Who has appeared With Opera Companies in Munich, Frankfurt and London)
Georg Solti
3
Listed In: Musicians
Birthdate: October 21, 1912
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: September 5, 1997

Georg Solti was an operatic and orchestral conductor. He is best remembered for his association with opera companies in London, Frankfurt, and Munich. He also worked with the popular Chicago Symphony Orchestra where he served as a music director for a long time. Solti became the subject of a 1987 biographical TV documentary titled This Is Your Life.

 20 
Magda Gabor
(Hungarian-American Actress and Socialite)
Magda Gabor
5
Birthdate: June 11, 1915
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: June 6, 1997

The elder sister of Zsa Zsa and Eva Gabor, Magda Gabor was an actor who had appeared in the film Modern Girls and on a few TV shows. She was rumored to be the mistress of the Portuguese ambassador to Hungary and had later married 6 times.

 21 
Big Nose Kate
(Prostitute)
Big Nose Kate
8
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: November 9, 1849
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nové Zámky, Slovakia
Died: November 2, 1940
 22 
Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor
(Holy Roman Emperor from 1765 to 1790)
Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor
12
Birthdate: March 13, 1741
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: February 20, 1790

Joseph II reigned as the Holy Roman Emperor from 1765, and as the sole ruler of the Habsburg lands from 1780, until 1790. Son of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis I, and brother of Marie Antoinette, he laid down policies now known as Josephinism. He died without heirs.

 23 
Amrita Shergil
(Greatest avant-garde women artists of the early 20th century)
Amrita Shergil
2
Birthdate: January 30, 1913
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: December 5, 1941

Amrita Sher-Gil was a Hungarian-Indian painter best remembered as a pioneer of modern Indian art. Widely regarded as one of the early-20th century's greatest avant-garde women artists, Sher-Gil's work has influenced several Indian artists like Arpita Singh and Sayed Haider Raza. Her life and career inspired the 1969 documentary film Amrita Sher-Gil which was directed by Bhagwan Das Garga.

 24 
Katinka Hosszu
5
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: May 3, 1989
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pécs, Hungary
 25 
Katalin Karikó
(mRNA technology in immunology and therapies)
Katalin Karikó
2
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: January 17, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Szolnok, Hungary

Hungarian biochemist Katalin Karikó is best known for her research on mRNA, which led scientists to develop the first mRNA-based vaccine in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. After working at the Biological Research Centre in Szeged, she moved to the US due to lack of funding.

 26 
Erno Rubik
(Inventor)
Erno Rubik
6
Birthdate: July 13, 1944
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Budapest

A professor of design and architecture, Erno Rubik is the man behind the Rubik’s Cube. The Hungarian inventor himself took a month to solve his Rubik’s Cube puzzle, before marketing it worldwide as a popular game. He later also invented Rubik’s Magic and now promotes problem solving and mathematics. 

 27 
Otto Preminger
(Director and Producer Best Known for His Film ‘Anatomy of a Murder’)
Otto Preminger
4
Birthdate: December 5, 1905
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vyzhnytsya, Ukraine
Died: April 23, 1986

While he initially wished to follow in his prosecutor father’s footsteps to be a lawyer, Otto Preminger later discovered his love for theater. A master stage director, he later signed with Fox as one of its first independent filmmakers. He soared to fame with the 1944 film Laura.  

 28 
Jadwiga of Poland
(Former Queen of Poland (1384 - 1399))
Jadwiga of Poland
3
Birthdate: 1373 AD
Birthplace: Buda, Hungary
Died: July 17, 1399

Jadwiga of Poland reigned over the Kingdom of Poland as its first female monarch from 1384 until her death in 1399. Regarded as one of Poland's greatest rulers, Jadwiga is often compared to Casimir the Great and Bolesław the Brave. Also remembered for her charitable activities, Jadwiga of Poland established new schools, hospitals, and churches.

 29 
Marcel Breuer
(Architect & Furniture Designer)
Marcel Breuer
3
Listed In: Architects
Birthdate: May 21, 1902
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pécs, Austria-Hungary
Died: July 1, 1981
Hungarian architect and furniture designer Marcel Breuer was a major figure of the International Style of design. His innovative designs made use of new technology and materials, such as steel furniture resembling the designs of bicycle handle bars, also known as the Wassily chair. He inspired the documentary Breuer's Bohemia.
 30 
Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor
(Holy Roman Emperor (1433 - 1437))
Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor
3
Birthdate: February 14, 1368
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nuremberg, Germany
Died: December 9, 1437

Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor reigned as the king of Hungary and Croatia from 1387 to 1437. He also served as the king of Germany, king of Bohemia, king of Italy, and emperor of the Romans. Sigismund is best remembered for playing a key role in bringing about the Council of Constance, which ended the Papal Schism.   

 31 
Matthias Corvinus
(King of Hungary and Croatia (1458 - 1490))
Matthias Corvinus
1
Birthdate: February 23, 1443
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Died: April 6, 1490

The second son of military leader János Hunyadi, Matthias Corvinus ruled as the king of Hungary and Croatia in the 15th century. He introduced several financial and other administrative reforms to reunite Hungary after a long period of anarchy. He also established the Black Army of Hungary and patronized the arts and sciences.

 32 
Attila Csihar
(Vocalist)
Attila Csihar
1
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: March 29, 1971
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary

Starting his music career with the Hungarian metal band Tormentor, Attila Csihar also worked with the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem after the suicide of its lead vocalist. Not known to many, the black metal vocalist is an electrical engineer and has also taught math and physics before venturing into music.

 33 
László Bíró
(Inventor)
László Bíró
1
Birthdate: September 29, 1899
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Budapest
Died: October 24, 1985

Starting his career as a journalist, László Bíró also tried his hand at Surrealist painting in his early days. Trying to come up with a writing device that would use a fast-drying ink type, he invented the ballpoint pen. Invited by the Argentine government, he set up his pen manufacturing company there.

 34 
Gyorgy Ligeti
(One of the Most Important Avant-Garde Composers of the 20th Century)
Gyorgy Ligeti
1
Listed In: Musicians
Birthdate: May 28, 1923
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Târnăveni, Romania
Died: June 11, 2006

Being a descendant of violinist Leopold Auer, Hungarian-Austrian composer Gyorgy Ligeti was no stranger to music in childhood. He lost his entire family, except his mother, to the Holocaust, but that didn’t prevent him from studying music later. He rose to be a legend of avant-garde music.

 35 
Count of St. Germain
(European Adventurer and Philosopher)
Count of St. Germain
1
Birthdate: 1691 AD
Birthplace: Sárospatak, Hungary
Died: February 27, 1784

Known as The Wonderman, 18th-century French adventurer Comte de Saint-Germain was also a talented musician, especially skilled in the violin, and a well-known chemist. Not only was he proficient in almost all European languages, he had traveled to places such as Russia, the Dutch Republic, and Germany.

 36 
Elizabeth of Hungary
(Saint and Princess of the Kingdom of Hungary)
Elizabeth of Hungary
3
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: July 7, 1207
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bratislava, Slovakia
Died: November 17, 1231

Elizabeth, the daughter of Hungarian king Andrew II, was married at 14 but lost her husband to a plague in Italy at 20. She then joined the Third Order of St. Francis and opened a hospital for the poor. She is revered as the patron saint of the homeless.

 37 
Imre Nagy
(Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Hungarian People's Republic (1953 – 1955))
Imre Nagy
3
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: June 7, 1896
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kaposvár, Hungary
Died: June 16, 1958

Imre Nagy was a Hungarian politician who served as the third chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Hungarian People's Republic. He also served as the 44th prime minister of Hungary. In 1956, Nagy played an influential role in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 where he led the Revolution against the government, for which he was executed in 1958.

 38 
János Áder
(President of Hungary)
János Áder
4
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: May 9, 1959
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Csorna

Hungarian president János Áder was born in the small town Csorna and is a qualified lawyer. His first step into politics was as a law expert of the liberal-democratic party Fidesz. He has previously been the Speaker of the National Assembly. The father of four is married to a judge.

 39 
John Hunyadi
(Politician)
John Hunyadi
0
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: 1406 AD
Birthplace: Transylvania, Romania
Died: August 11, 1456

Transylvania-born Hungarian military general John Hunyadi had also been the country’s governor. Remembered for his role in the battles of Kosovo and Varna, he eventually succumbed to a plague outbreak, though he went down in history for his valiant exploits against the Turks and is now a legend even in Romania and Bulgaria.

 40 
Michael Curtiz
(Film Director)
Michael Curtiz
5
Birthdate: December 24, 1886
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: April 10, 1962
 41 
Anna Rudolf
(Chess player)
Anna Rudolf
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: November 12, 1987
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Miskolc, Hungary
 42 
Timea Babos
(Tennis player)
Timea Babos
2
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: May 10, 1993
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sopron, Hungary
 43 
Béla Tarr
(Screenwriter, Film director)
Béla Tarr
1
Birthdate: July 21, 1955
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Pécs

Legendary Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr initially relied on cinema verité to portray the lives of ordinary people in his films. He later gained international fame with iconic films such as Sátántangó and even launched a film school in Sarajevo. He is also known for his signature long takes and long-running movies.

 44 
Muhammad Asad
(For English Translation of Quran, 'The Message of The Qur'an")
Muhammad Asad
1
Birthdate: July 2, 1900
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lviv, Ukraine
Died: February 20, 1992

Austro-Hungarian journalist Leopold Weiss was a descendant of rabbis and ran away from home in his teens, taking up odd jobs, before finally becoming a journalist in Germany. His work took him to the Middle East, where he converted to Islam and adopted the name Muhammad Asad.

 45 
Ahna Capri
(Actress)
Ahna Capri
0
Birthdate: July 6, 1944
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: August 19, 2010

Starting as a child actor, Ahna Capri later soared to fame with her role of Tania in the movie Enter the Dragon. Her other notable roles were in films such as Piranha and Payday and in series such as Dan August. She died in a fatal car crash.

 46 
György Lukács
(Hungarian Marxist Philosopher, Literary Historian and One of the Founders of Western Marxism)
György Lukács
2
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: April 13, 1885
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: June 4, 1971

One of the pioneers of Western Marxism, Hungarian philosopher and literary critic György Lukács also taught at the University of Budapest and later became a major pillar of the Hungarian uprising. His best-known written works include Soul and Form and The Historical Novel, apart from his books on Goethe, Lenin, and Marx.

 47 
László Moholy-Nagy
(Photographer)
László Moholy-Nagy
0
Listed In: Photographers
Birthdate: July 20, 1895
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bácsborsód
Died: November 24, 1946

Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy was known for his non-representational art and his love for constructivism. Though he initially studied law, he later experimented with many forms of art, such as painting, sculpting, and photography. He also taught at the Bauhaus school of avant-garde design and co-edited the Bauhausbook series.

 48 
Karl Polanyi
(Economist, Anthropologist, Economic historian, Historian, Journalist, Philosopher, Writer, University teacher, Sociologist)
Karl Polanyi
0
Birthdate: October 25, 1886
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: April 23, 1964

Apart from being a political economist, Karl Polanyi was also a prominent Hungarian political leader. The Great Transformation remains his best-known work. He taught at institutes such as the Columbia University and is known for proposing the idea of a cultural version of economics known as substantivism.

 49 
Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor
(Holy Roman Emperor)
Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor
5
Birthdate: June 9, 1640
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: May 5, 1705

Second son of Emperor Ferdinand III, Leopold I became the heir apparent to his father’s throne on the death of his elder brother in 1654, being coroneted as the Holy Roman Emperor in 1658. Although he received little training for the throne, Austria became a great European power during his reign, emerging victorious in struggles against Ottoman Empire and France.

 50 
Andras Schiff
(Pianist)
Andras Schiff
1
Listed In: Musicians
Birthdate: December 21, 1953
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary

Born to Holocaust survivors, Hungarian-born pianist Andras Schiff began learning the piano at age 5. He is now best known for his interpretations of legends such as of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. His numerous awards include a Grammy. He was also knighted for his achievements.