• 10 November 1904
  •  Ungvár, Austria-Hungary [now Uzhhorod, Ukraine]

Steven Geray


Diminutive, gentle-featured character actor, who specialised in playing meek, reticent or kindly gentlemen, usually of Gallic, Germanic or Eastern European backgrounds. Istvan Gyergyay was born in the old Austro/Hungarian town of Ungvar (present-day Uzhgorod) and studied at Budapest University. His acting career began on stage with the Hungarian National Theatre in 1924. By the end of the decade, he appeared in Hungarian films (one of them, Tokajerglut (1933), starred the Hungarian actor, and future Hollywood favourite, S.Z. Sakall). In 1934, Istvan moved to Britain and became first 'Stefan', then 'Steven'. In spite of initial linguistic problems, he soon managed to secure steady work on screen and in radio. Seven years later, he turned up in Hollywood and soon found himself much in demand for playing waiters, maitre d's, stewards, doctors and the occasional ship captain. He was a useful little actor to back up the exotic locales stipulated for films like The Mask of Dimitrios (1944). He also gave valuable support in pictures with military or espionage themes, from Hotel Berlin (1945) to Gilda (1946) (as the casino's washroom attendant, Uncle Pio, whose actions in the final scene are crucial in removing the chief encumbrance to a happy ending). In The Moon and Sixpence (1942), he effectively essayed the buffoonish painter Dirk Stroeve, though Bosley Crowther of the New York Times (October 28, 1942) found his performance "inclined to affectation". Under contract at Columbia from 1946 to 1952, Steven even featured in a rare starring role in the cult film noir So Dark the Night (1946). From the mid-1950's, Steven worked almost exclusively as a reliable TV guest actor and was somewhat unfortunate to round off his career as Dr. Frankenstein's grandson Rudolph out in the Wild West of William Beaudine's low budget exploitation flick Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966).