Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Star of the Month



BORN- February 2, 1883

DIED- February 12, 1955

AGED- 72 years

DIED FROM- Heart Attack

REAL NAME- Jakob Grunwald or Gero Jeno, Jacob Gero, Szoke Szakall

NICKNAME-Cuddles and Szoke Szakall meaning blond beard which he grew in his theatre days so he could look older.

MARRIED- twice to Giza Grossner and Anne Kardos

TALENT- Producer and writer and had his own production Company 

KNOWN FOR- his sweet-natured, befuddled uncle, grandfather, owner etc whom you just want to hug. He was 2nd only to one other man for his light Viennese romantic comedies. Known to always say " Everything is hunky dunky."

Most people have seen this great character actor but, like most character actors, we don’t know  their name. This loveable ham was given the nickname, “Cuddles” by, of all people, Jack Warner( some same it was Doris Day but I don’t think so) but S. Z. never cared for the nickname. He actually was a big name in Hungary, Vienna and Berlin not only for his acting, but also for his play writing. He was in WW1 but was bayoneted in the chest and was, obviously, invalided out. His star became bigger but, when Hitler came to power, he went back to Hungary since he was Jewish. When Hungary became part of that unholy axis back in 1940, he got the hell out of there and came over to Hollywood. He lost his 3 sisters, a niece plus his wife lost her brother and sister in the concentration camps. Cuddles hated the American food so his wonderful wife made the food he loved and brought it to him when he was on the set. She also was a known presence on the set often helping him learn his lines. . He was such a good scene stealer because of his befuddled ways and language  screw-ups that other actors got their egos up their asses. Alan Hale Snr( his son played the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island) really disliked the portly man because of his scene stealing ways. Sakall is one of my favourite actors and was in many musicals even though he couldn’t sing a note.


1. That Night in Rio-1941

2. The Devil and Miss. Jones- 1941

3. Ball of Fire- 1941

4. Yankee Doodle Dandy- 1942

5. Casablanca- 1942

6. Christmas in Connecticut- 1945

7. Romance on the High Seas- 1948

8. My Dream is Yours - 1949

9. In the Good Old Summertime- 1949

10. The Student Prince- 1954


  1. Hi, Birgit!

    You are prolific and terrific, dear friend. You forgot to include the new feature of BB Creations: Harley Picture of the Day. :)

    I know that face, but I didn't remember the actor's name. I have seen S.Z. Sakall many times, and the very first film that popped into my head even before I read your list of credits is the one I recently mentioned in another comment, the 1940 musical It's A Date starring Deanna Durbin, Kay Francis, and Walter Pidgeon. (Yessum, occasionally, even I watch a musical, in this case because I am a Deanna Durbin fan and "completist.") I have also seen S.Z. in Deanna's Spring Parade movie released that same year, along with Devil and Casablanca from your list.

    It was heartwarming to read that his devoted wife made his favorite Hungarian dishes and brought the food to the set while he was working. This was an interesting selection for your Star of the Month feature. Thank you for paying tribute to the likable, lovable scene stealing character actor S.Z. Sakall. Enjoy your Tuesday and I'll be back to see you tamale on Song Day Wednesday, dear friend BB!

  2. How well I remember him, especially from Ball of Fire and Christmas In Connecticut. He really did come across as a cuddly type.


  3. I've seen two of his movies but don't specifically remember him. Like you said, character actors - they tend to blend.

  4. The face is familiar, but I don't think I've ever heard his name before.

  5. Barbara Stanwyck, one of my favorites, starred in two of those movies, "Ball Of Fire" and "Christmas In Connecticut."

  6. Oh yes, he is very familiar to me. Character actors got to be in just about everything in that era. I had no idea Skipper was his son! Wow.

  7. He was a good actor. I remember him in Christmas in Connecticut, which is a really funny film.

  8. Another great choice this month Birgit!!

    Such a memorable talent that his ability to steal a scene isn't hard to understand. He just shows up and pulls focus.

    Love him in everything I've ever seen him in but like most everyone else that's commented Christmas in Connecticut is the first thing that pops into my mind when I hear his name followed by Romance on the High Seas but he brightens every film he ever appeared in.