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Hungarian Americans are Americanmarker citizens of Hungarianmarker descent. Many Hungarians fled to the United Statesmarker after the Soviet invasion in 1956 and during the Second World War and Holocaust, a significant percentage of whom were Jewish.


Hungarians have been a part of America for as long as Europeans have settled the New World, with Hungarian Americans such as Michael de Kovats, the founder of the United States Cavalry, active in the American Revolution. Hungarians have maintained a constant state of immigration to the United States since then, however are best known for three principle waves of immigration.

Agoston Haraszthy, who settled in Wisconsinmarker in 1840, was the first Hungarian to permanently settle in the United States and the second Hungarian to write a book about the United States in his native language. After he moved to Californiamarker in 1849, Haraszthy founded the Buena Vista Vineyards in Sonoma (now Buena Vista Carneros) and imported more than 100,000 European wine cuttings for the use of California winemakers. He is widely remembered today as the "Father of California Viticulture" or the "Father of Modern Winemaking in California."

The first large wave of Hungarian immigration to the United States occurred in 1849-1850 when the so-called "Forty-Eighters" fled from retribution by Austrian authorities after the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. By the turn of the century, the United States saw an immigration boom primarily of Southern and Eastern Europeans. This wave consisted of approximately 650,000-700,000 ethnic Hungarians. Unlike the educated gentry who formed the core of the 1849 wave, the second wave was mostly poor and uneducated immigrants seeking a better life in America.

The circumstances of the third wave of immigration had much in common with the first wave. In 1956, Hungary was again under the power of a foreign state, this time the Soviet Unionmarker, and again Hungarians rose up in revolution. Like the revolution of 1848, the 1956 Hungarian Revolution failed and led to the emigration of 200,000 "56-ers" fleeing persecution after the revolution. 40,000 of them found their way to the United States.


According to the 2006 US Census, there are 1,563,081 persons with Hungarian ancestry in the United Statesmarker as of 2006, with − according to 2000 census data − 1,398,724 of them indicating Hungarian as their first ancestry.Estimates of the number of Hungarians in the United States go well above 4 million. This number also includes the large number of ethnic Hungarian immigrants most of whom have arrived to the US from Romania, Czechoslovakia, and the former Yugoslavia.

The states with the largest Hungarian American populations include:
Ohio 193,951 New York 137,029 California 133,988 Pennsylvania 132,184 New Jersey 115,615 Michigan 98,036 Florida 96,885

The highest percentage of Hungarians in any American town, village or other, is in Kiryas Joel, New Yorkmarker (The great majority of its residents are Hasidic Jews belonging to the Satmar Hasidic dynasty, originated from Hungary) where 18.9% of the total population claimed Hungarian as first ancestry. Other places with over 10% are Fairport Harbor, Ohiomarker (14.1%) and West Pike Run Township, Pennsylvaniamarker (11.7%). About a hundred other places have +5% of Hungarians, but the highest number of Hungarians living in the same place is in New York Citymarker.

Famous Hungarian Americans

In entertainment, the comic style of Ernie Kovacs influenced numerous television comedy programs for years to come.The Fox Film Corporation was formed by William Fox. Actress Vilma Banky starred in numerous silent films opposite Hollywoodmarker legends such as Rudolph Valentino and Ronald Colman. Actress Drew Barrymore's mother is Hungarian Actor Tony Curtis has been in over 100 films, including his iconic roles in Some Like it Hot and The Defiant Ones. Actor Peter Lorre became famous after his role as a murderer in Fritz Lang's M and would go on to play many antagonistic villain roles. Legendary actor Bela Lugosi played Count Dracula in the stage version and subsequent film of Bram Stoker's classic. Academy Award winner Paul Lukas is perhaps best remembered by the older generation for his acclaimed role in the film Watch on the Rhine, and by the younger generation, for his Professor Aronnax in Walt Disney's classic 1954 film version of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Actress Ilona Massey was frequently billed as "the new Dietrich", and famously played the role of a femme fatale in Love Happy. Sex symbol Zsa Zsa Gabor was perhaps better known for her status as a socialite than as an actress; she married nine times. Her younger sister Eva Gabor was known for her role on the television show Green Acres, and her older sister Magda Gabor famously helped save the lives of two hundred and forty Jewish families during the Second World War because of her relationship with a Portuguesemarker ambassador. Harry Houdini, considered by many to be the greatest magician of all time, was an expert escapologist, introducing it as an art form. He was also a major critic and investigator of Spiritualists.

In filmmaking, Vilmos Zsigmond was nominated for four Academy Award for cinematography. Laszlo Kovacs, most famous for his work on Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces, won three Lifetime Achievement Awards for cinematography. Ernest Laszlo, who worked on over 60 films, won an Academy Award for cinematography for 1965's Ship of Fools.

Director Frank Darabont, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Directing three times, is most popular for Stephen King adaptations, including The Shawshank Redemption, ranked among audience polls as one of the greatest films of all time. Michael Curtiz was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Directing four times, finally winning for Casablancamarker, considered by many critic polls to be one of the greatest films ever made. George Cukor won an Academy Award for Best Directing for My Fair Lady. Independent directors and the films that have brought them acclaim include Nimrod Antal for his cult film Kontroll, Peter Medak, infamous for his B-movies, and Laszlo Benedek for the Golden Globe-award winning film rendition of Death of a Salesman.

Joe Eszterhas wrote the screenplay for Basic Instinct, dubbed a cult classic. Andrew G. Vajna produced the Die Hard and The Terminator sequels, both of which were critically accepted. Ladislas Farago wrote numerous book on World War II espionage, including a screenplay for the film Tora! Tora! Tora!. Animator Gábor Csupó created the Rugrats series, an increasingly popular children's show.

Animator George Pál was known for producing landmark science fiction films, considered to be first to introduce the genre to film. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences founded the "George Pal Lecture on Fantasy in Film" series in his memory.

In music, Miklós Rózsa composed numerous film scores; perhaps his most recognizable score was for the 1959 epic Ben-Hur. In classical music, Eugene Ormandy, music director for the Philadelphia Orchestra, was appointed an honorary Knight of the British Empire by the Queen of England and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In rock, Tommy Ramone co-founded the legendary punk band The Ramones, Gene Simmons bass guitarist and co-vocalist of the famous Kiss .

In sports, Monica Seles won nine Grand Slam singles titles and is the former No. 1 professional tennis player in the world. Former Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay hit the spotlight when he married Jayne Mansfield. Al Hrabosky was a popular Major League Baseball player, nicknamed the Mad Hungarian, but he was not actually Hungarian. Gene Mako won four Grand Slam doubles titles in the 1930s.

In physics, Edward Teller acquired the title of "the father of the hydrogen bomb," for his work in the Manhattan Project. His colleague on the project, physicist Leo Szilard conceived the idea of a nuclear chain reaction and helped implement it. It was Szilard who persuaded Albert Einstein to write his infamous letter to Franklin Roosevelt concerning atomic warfare. Theodore von Kármán was responsible for a number of key theories in aeronautic and astronautics research and development. Eugene Wigner laid the foundation for several important theories pertaining to the atomic nucleus, and won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.

In computer science, John George Kemeny co-developed the BASIC programming language in 1964 with Thomas Eugene Kurtz. Computer software businessman Charles Simonyi oversaw the creation of Microsoft Office and invented the concept of intentional programming. Leslie L. Vadász and Andrew Grove were key leaders in the history of the Intel Corporationmarker.

In sociology, Thomas Szasz is a prominent figure in the antipsychiatry movement, as well as a vocal critic of state control over medicine.

In astronomy, Victor Szebehely became a leading figure in NASAmarker's Apollo program.

In biology and chemistry, Albert Szent-Györgyi won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1937 for discovering the biological process of Vitamin C in the human body. Georg von Békésy won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on the mammalian ear. George Andrew Olah won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research on carbocations, and later hydrocarbons and their applicability to ethanol fuel. Erno Laszlo, a prominent dermatologist, found the Erno Laszlo institute for cosmetic research. Andor Szentivanyi discovered "The Beta Adrenergic Theory of Asthma."

In mathematics, Paul Halmos contributed significantly to probability theory, statistics, and logic. Laszlo Lovasz made pioneering developments in the study combinatorics, winning both the Wolf Prize and Knuth Prize in 1999. Cornelius Lanczos developed numerous technics for mathematical calculations, of which the Lanczos algorithm and Lanczos approximation are named after him. John von Neumann, acknowledged as one of the foremost mathematicians of the 20th century, contributed to a wide variety of fields, including computer science, economics, quantum theory, statistics, and hydrodynamics. Neumann's work on nuclear physics was influential in the Manhattan Project. The John von Neumann Theory Prize and the IEEE John von Neumann Medal are named in his honor.

In art, Bauhaus artist Marcel Breuer became known as one of the first modernists for his modular construction and simple forms. Another Bauhaus artist László Moholy-Nagy, highly influenced by Russian constructivism, helped introduce the movement to the United Statesmarker; he was a strong advocate of the integration of technology and industry into the arts. Lajos Markos was a significant portrait artist, having created portraits for iconic celebrities such as John Wayne. Photographer Sylvia Plachy published several photobooks detailing her personal history in Central Europe.

In politics, Tom Lantos was a US Representative for San Franciscomarker, being the only Holocaust survivor to serve in the US Congress. The father of former New Yorkmarker governor George Pataki was ethnic Hungarian, he still speaks some Hungarian today.

Others include famous Holocaust survivor Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel known for his activism and for writing the critically acclaimed Night . Agoston Haraszthy, a famous traveller and writer, became known as the "Father of California Viticulture" and perhaps one of the most accomplished viticulturists in US history. Joseph Pulitzer, a journalist famous for helping create yellow journalism and posthumously establishing the Pulitzer Prizes. Csaba Csere was Editor-in-Chief of the automotive magazine Car and Driver from 1993-2008. In the world of business, billionaire aircraft leasing, philantropist Steven Ferencz Udvar-Házy Steven F. Udvar-Házy, billionaire-philanthropist-political actvist George Soros are notable Hungarian Americans.

See also


  1. Brian McGinty, Strong Wine: The Life and Legend of Agoston Haraszthy (Stanford University Press, 1998), 1.
  2. Útazás Éjszakamerikáában (Travels in North America), Pest, 1846, 2d ed., Pest, 1850; McGinty, Strong Wine: The Life and Legend of Agoston Haraszthy, 101.
  3. Pinney, Thomas, A History of Wine in America (University of California Press, 1989), 269; McGinty, Strong Wine: The Life and Legend of Agoston Haraszthy, 1.
  4. United States - QT-P13. Ancestry: 2000
  5. Fairport Harbor, OH statistics
  6. West Pike Run township, Pennsylvania statistics

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