Family & Companions
Delicately beautiful star of European silent films brought to the United States by Sam Goldwyn in 1925 and publicized as 'The Hungarian Rhapsody'. Banky enjoyed immediate success opposite Rudolph Valentino in Clarence Brown's "The Eagle" (1925) and "The Son of the Sheik" (1926), the latter Valentino's last film. Gary Cooper's long screen career began in a Banky showcase as he attempted "The Winning of Barbara Worth" (1926), but the ethereal star's most notable leading man was Ronald Colman, opposite whom she acted five times during her brief Hollywood heyday. Goldwyn first teamed the duo for the tearjerking "The Dark Angel" (1925), while later co-starring vehicles such as "The Magic Flame" and "The Night of Love" (both 1927) favored rank passion over sentiment.
Despite a successful performance in Victor Sjostrom's interesting early talkie, "A Lady to Love" (1930), the film was not popular and sound on the whole proved an insurmountable barrier for Banky. While Colman's crisp, clear accent and beautiful voice focused his career around playing gentlemanly British types, some Depression-era audiences found Banky's accent "difficult" and filmmakers bypassed her exotic 1920s gentility in favor of more robust, stage-trained American or English actors. And so Banky retired from acting only several years after marrying silent matinee idol Rod LaRocque (whose career continued in character roles into the 1940s) in 1927. She did, though, perform admirably in Luis Trenker and Curtis Bernhardt's remarkable German film, "Der Rebell/The Rebel" (1932). The public remained unaware of Banky's death in March of 1991 until the end of the following year; the aging star had become ill in the early 80s and, embittered by the lack of attention she received, decreed that no notice of her death be issued.
Cast (Feature Film)
Film acting debut in "Im letzen Augenblick" (Europe)
Discovered by Samuel Goldwyn; moved to USA; made first Hollywood films, "The Eagle" opposite Rudolph Valentino, and "The Dark Angel", her first of five films opposite Ronald Colman
Hollywood stardom confirmed: reteamed with Valentino for "The Son of the Sheik" and with Colman for "The Winning of Barbara Worth"
Last of five films opposite Colman, "Two Lovers"
First film with sound, "This Is Heaven"
Acted in the all-talking film, "A Lady to Love" and its German-language version, "Die Sehnsucht jeder Frau"
Made final film "Der Rebell/The Rebel"