Cinema: The New Pictures: Jan. 1, 1940

She was born in Budapest 27 years ago and her name was Ilona Hajmassy (pronounced High-massy). At 14, Ilona was a seamstress in a sweatshop, with a will to sing. So Seamstress Hajmassy applied at a Budapest opera house. When its manager asked her what she could do, she told him: "Nothing." He put her in the chorus. There she earned 60 pengö ($10.50) a month, got no curtain calls. An M. G. M. executive finally spotted her at the Vienna opera, took her to Hollywood, where for six months she crammed dramatics...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!