Photo by Cowan talent agents – Wikimedia

Originally published by Lilian on October 2021, Updated by Charity K in May 2023

Top 15 Most Famous Hungarian People


Hungary has produced Hollywood stars, crafty inventors, sportsmen, intellectuals, and valiant adventurers. Being worldwide champions, you may never have known they are Hungarian.

Known as innovative people, Hungarians have always found a way to solve complex and simple problems. 

Now you know that this European nation is not only famous for vodka and mustaches. This country was home to the Houdini, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and several other famous people.

These resourceful men and women have made Hungary the most sought-after country in Europe.

Here’s our list of the 10 most famous Hungarians.

1. Joseph Pulitzer – Journalist

Joseph’s life is one of the Hungarian success stories. Born in Makó, Hungary, Pulitzer immigrated to the United States when he was 17 to fight in the civil war.

He started his journalism career in St. Louis and later moved to New York before joining the House of Representatives.

The Pulitzer Prize was established in 1911 after his death. The Award is given to exceptional people in journalism, drama, and education.

Read more about other famous people here.

2. Harry Houdini – Escape Artist/ Magician

Photo by McManus-Young Collection – Wikimedia

Houdini is a famous name all over the world. His given name was Erik Weisz. He is famously known for his magic, escape tactics, stunts, and humor while at it.

His parents were of Jewish descent and lived in Budapest. Houdini was born in 1874 before his family moved to the United States of America.

Harry Houdini started performing as a magician and had several shows in America and beyond. He died in 1926 after a failed escape act.

There is a museum in Budapest, the House of Houdini, that was opened by David Merlini a fellow Hungarian magician. Here you will get to see artifacts used by Harry Houdini in his work.

3. Robert Capa – Photographer

Robert Capa is one of the world’s most celebrated war photographers. His birth name was Endre Ernő Friedmann in Budapest in 1913.

After a few years in his home country, he left for Berlin and then Paris where he took a new identity and changed his name.

Capa became popular for his photographs of the Spanish Civil War. He became friends with Ernest Hemingway.  

His most famous work was photos of D-Day that were shot while he was waist-deep in water. The coverage of the conflict is one of the most iconic collections from World War II.

He died when covering the First Indochina War in 1954. The Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Centre was opened in Budapest and hosts challenging temporary exhibitions.

4. Zsa Zsa Gabor – Actress

Photo by Cowan talent agents – Wikimedia

Zsa Zsa Gabor was a stage actor and was also crowned Miss Hungary in the 1930s. She moved from Hungary to the United States in 1941 where she continued her acting career.

Gabor is regarded as one of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood. Her lifestyle was described as flamboyant full of grace and always impressionable.

Interestingly, Gabor is not known for her film roles but more for her love life. She was married 9 times. Her first marriage was when she was 15 to a Turkish diplomat. 

5. Tommy Ramone – Drummer

This is another celebrity born in Budapest to a Jewish family. His given name was Tamas Erdelyi and he spent most of his childhood years going to Toldi Cinema in Budapest.

His family fled to America in the 1950s. Ramone is famously known as a drummer for the band Ramones. He was involved in the management and production of his band.    

Tommy Ramone died of bile duct cancer in 2014. He is the only Hungarian to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Read more about other famous people here.

6. Monica Seles – Athlete

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Monica is one of the greatest players in the history of women’s tennis. She is a ten-time Grand Slam champion. Seles was born and raised in Novi Sad just south of the border in Serbia.

Monica moved to America in her teens and was coached by a tennis expert. As a teenager, she became one of the most-watched tennis players and beat some of the world’s best in the 1980s.

Seles was the youngest woman to win the French Open in 1990 after defeating Steffi Graff in the finals. Her career came to a halt after she got stabbed in the shoulder by a disgruntled spectator.

7. Tony Curtis – Actor

Photo by United Artists – Wikimedia

Like most Hungarians who immigrated, Tony changed his name. He was born Bernard Schwartz in Manhattan, United States. As a young child, he spoke only Hungarian and later learned English.

As one of the famous actors in the 60s and 70s, Tony never forgot his Hungarian roots. He contributed to the reconstruction of the Great Synagogue in Budapest.

Curtis has been featured in more than 100 films. In one of his films, he acted as Harry Houdini.   

8. Ernő Rubik – Rubik’s Cube inventor/Architect

The Rubik’s Cube, a puzzle, is a famous invention by Ernő Rubik. He grew up in Budapest and is a renowned architect as well as the president of the Hungarian Engineering Academy.

Rubik continues to make new games and also opened a design studio for games and furniture. Other famous games by him are Rubik’s Magic, Rubik’s Magic: Master Edition, and Rubik’s Snake.

When he invented the cube in 1974, Rubik was not certain the puzzle could be solved. The first person to solve the puzzle took a month to match the colors of the cubes.

9. Calvin Klein – Fashion Designer

Born in the United States, Klein’s parents were of Hungarian descent. His mother encouraged him to pursue fashion.

Klein attended the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan although he never graduated. In 2003, he was given an honorary doctorate from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology.

He started his career at Dan Millstein, later, Klein spent a few years designing in New York. His first company was launched in 1968.

Klein’s first success in the fashion industry was after he launched his jeans line. He was acknowledged in his first major show at the New York Fashion Week.  

Read more about other famous people here.

10. László Bíró – Inventor

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Bíró László József was the inventor of the ballpoint pen. He was born in Budapest, Hungary. His first job was as an editor in the Hungarian newspaper Hongrie-Magyarország-Hungary.

Frustrated by fountain pens running and staining the page, he teamed up with his brother who was a chemist. The two made a pen whose tip revolved and did not leak ink.

He patented this invention in 1938. After fleeing Hungary, Biro settled in Brazil where the biros were produced.

This invention was used by the armed forces. The Royal Air Force aircrew used them because they don’t leak at high altitudes, unlike fountain pens.

11. Louis C.K.

He is a Hungarian who has a successful career in the United States as a comedian, writer, producer, editor, director, and actor was born Louis A. Székely. His paternal grandfather origin is a Jew. He was in fact a Hungarian-Jewish immigrant. Despite being in America for a long time, he purposed to visit his home country Hungary and perform. In addition, he promised the Hungarians that he will be visiting for more performances soon.

12. Drew Blyth Barrymore

He was born in Hungary. His mother was known as Ildikó Makó who was born in Germany but later settled in Hungary. She is known as an American Actress who won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in 2010. She is famous for miniseries and Television Films in particular in 2010.

13. Goldie Hawn

She is a daughter of a Jew who escaped to Hungary in the midst of World War II. The family moved to Washington D.C. where she was born in 1945. The most interesting part of her life is that she traveled to Hungary to find out about her heritiage together with her sister.


14. Harry Houdini

The famous escape artist was born in Budapest as Erik Weisz. At the age of four years old, his family moved to the United States. As a magician, he changed his name to Harry Houdini, a name that has gained fame for his great magic.

15. Gene Simmons

Toglenn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

He was born in Israel. At some point, he changed his name to Eugene Klein which included his Hungarian mother’s maiden name. In addition, he sang a Hungarian folk song on television with his mum but he is now an American Rock-and-roll icon.

Read more about other famous people here.