Hungarian-born Bela Kornitzer (1910-1964) achieved prominence as a journalist and author of several highly acclaimed political biographies. Kornitzer arrived in the United States in 1947, learned English largely from going to the movies, and almost immediately began to write a series of magazine articles, based on interviews with leading public figures, that would launch his career as an American political biographer.
Kornitzer sought out and interviewed the most prominent men of the time in politics, science, religion, and the arts. Among these were Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, Douglas MacArthur, Billy Graham, Richard Cardinal Cushing, Sam Rayburn, Robert Frost, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Cecil B. DeMille, Felix Frankfurter, J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., Ralph Bunche, Norman Cousins, and Walter Annenberg. Kornitzer’s numerous articles and books based on these interviews explore the dynamics of families, focusing specifically on the father-son relationship, and its role in molding the characters of some of the most distinguished men of the time.
In 1991, Bela Kornitzer’s sister, Mrs. Alicia Karpati, donated the archive of his work to the Drew University Library. The collection includes copies of Kornitzer’s articles and books, as well as correspondence, clippings, typescripts, photographs, and recordings of interviews. Mrs. Karpati has also created an endowment for the Bela Kornitzer Award, to honor her brother and to recognize his achievements as a journalist and author in Hungary and the United States.
View the Finding Aid for the Bela Kornitzer Collection (PDF, HTML).
See also the online exhibit: Bela Kornitzer’s Great American Heritage: A Journalist and Five Presidents.