Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mystery Solved? The disappearance of Eugene Jacob Gardos (part 1)

Eugene Jacob Goldberger (aka Eugene Jacob Gardos) was my great grandfather, father of my maternal grandmother.

This is the story of Eugene, as told to me by Eugene's great grandson in 2010:

Eugene Jacob Goldberger was born March 1, 1885 in Turja Remete, Hungary (now part of the Ukraine). He came to the U.S. in 1910, with his wife and two sons, and lived in Omaha, Nebraska. He changed his name from Goldberger to Gardos, as Goldberger was "too Jewish". In Nebraska, Eugene's wife gave birth to a daughter. The family moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, during World War I and eventually made their way to New York. In route, Eugene's wife died during childbirth (the child also died).

Eugene remarried and they had 2 children together. The family story is that Eugene apparently had quite a bit of wealth (probably illegally gotten) during the 1920's. Eugene Gardos was arrested for bootlegging, and tried to escape the law. He obtained a U.S. passport and left the country in 1921. He was arrested upon his return in 1922. {Here's a NY Times article from 1922 describing his re-arrest from that trip, after he previously had jumped bail.}

Eugene was in the movie business, and financed a movie in Hungary, based on a famous Hungarian classic novel ("Pal Utcai Fiuk." -- means "The Boys of Paul Street").
The family story is that Eugene Gardos helped Hungarian actress, Vilma Banky get a contract with Sam Goodwyn (of MGM) in 1925. {note: Vilma Banky's story can be found on wikipedia, her immigration record matches the family story. She arrived in 1925, and she did indeed get a contract with Sam Goodwyn. Eugene Gardos isn't mentioned on the page}

Eugene disappeared from his family in 1929, never to be heard of again.......

Tomorrow, I'll tell you my story about Eugene Gardos and how I developed a connection with family, 81 years later.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Melissa; I came about your article about my grandfather, Eugene Gardos, by doing a goggle search. I am Stephen Gardos, son of Albert Gardos who was Eugene's second son. I would love to share your article with my family. I know a lot about the story from David but your summary is super. Could you please email it to me at sgardos@msn.com