Monday, May 14, 2012

Farewell to Eva Bartok

Hungarian actress Eva Bartok died on Saturday 1 August 1998, aged 69. There was plenty of publicity surrounding her funeral which was remarkable given that so few of her films are remembered today. With the exception of The Crimson Pirate (1952), an excellent genre spoof in which she co-starred with Burt Lancaster, her work is largely forgotten. The majority of Hammer enthusiasts are unlikely to recognise Bartok's name despite her co-star billing in Exclusive's Spaceways (1953) and Break in the Circle (1955).

Born Eva Szoke, she married in her teens to Alexander Paal, who later produced a number of Hammer films including Cloudburst (1952), The Four-Sided Triangle (1953) and Countess Dracula (1971). Bartok's second marriage was to German film star Curt Jurgens.

It is her 1956 affair with Frank Sinatra, however, that is the most probable cause of the recent media interest. Bartok always insisted that her daughter, Deana, was the result of a brief fling with Sinatra. The singer himself gave no credance to the claim.

During her mother's funeral on 11 August, Deana refuted newspaper allegations that Eva died homeless, penniless and alone: "I'm here to translate that for you," she said. "Homeless - because she never really appreciated the domestic trappings in life. Penniless - because she didn't really care about money. Alone - she was not, God was with her. I was with her in spirit, and so were many other people."

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