Vol. 2 No. 1 (2022)
Theatre as International Enterprise

An American Investor in the Theatre Industry of Budapest: Ben Blumenthal (1883–1967): A Personal and Professional Biography

Published 2022-06-16

Keywords

  • theatre managers’ biography, Hungarian-American Cultural Relations, Vígszínház–Paramount cooperation, transnational theatre history, US entertainment press

How to Cite

Heltai, Gyöngyi. 2022. “An American Investor in the Theatre Industry of Budapest: Ben Blumenthal (1883–1967): A Personal and Professional Biography”. Historical Studies on Central Europe 2 (1):162-89. https://doi.org/10.47074/HSCE.2022-1.08.

Abstract

In the interwar period, an American theatre and film entrepreneur had a determinant
impact on the private theatre sector of Budapest. Ben Blumenthal (1883–1967) ran the Vígszínház
(Comedy Theatre) in 1920–1926 and owned its building in 1920–1949. In addition, Blumenthal
financed the operation of the Fővárosi Operettszínház (Budapest Operetta Theatre) in 1922–1926.
Although from a global perspective, Blumenthal does not belong to the group of legendary
US theatre or movie producers, in the context of Hungarian theatre culture, he was the most
influential mediator in Hungarian–American cultural relations. The study aims to piece together the
undiscovered elements of Blumenthal’s personal and professional biography and to discuss how his
activities were evaluated from the American and the Hungarian perspectives.
Special emphasis will be given to the US and Hungarian entertainment press: Blumenthal’s
interviews on his Hungarian theatres, articles on Blumenthal’s position in the transnational
producers’ hierarchy, and representation of the Vígszínház in the US entertainment press. The aim is
to assess the significance of Blumenthal’s Budapest business activities within his entire career.