Charmed Lives [NOOK Book]


A Rolls Royce Silver Cloud drove him to airports; the British film industry kowtowed to his power; the great Hollywood studios fawned at his feet.Sir Alexander Korda, one of the world's most flamboyant movie tycoons, rose from obscurity in rural Hungary to become a legendary filmmaker. With him were his brothers, Zoltan and Vincent, all living charmed lives in circles that included H. G. Wells, Sir Lawrence Olivier, Marlena Dietrich, Vivien Leigh, and Merle Oberon, who was soon to be Alex's wife. But along with ...

See more details below
Charmed Lives

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$12.60 price


A Rolls Royce Silver Cloud drove him to airports; the British film industry kowtowed to his power; the great Hollywood studios fawned at his feet.Sir Alexander Korda, one of the world's most flamboyant movie tycoons, rose from obscurity in rural Hungary to become a legendary filmmaker. With him were his brothers, Zoltan and Vincent, all living charmed lives in circles that included H. G. Wells, Sir Lawrence Olivier, Marlena Dietrich, Vivien Leigh, and Merle Oberon, who was soon to be Alex's wife. But along with Alex's flair for success was an equally powerful impulse for destruction. Now, Vincent's son, Michael Korda, in the first book of his memoirs, recalls the enchanted figures of his childhood...the glory days of the Korda brothers' great films...and then their heartbreaking, tragic end.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Garson Kanin
“Deeply endearing, wildly entertaining, and thoroughly entrancing.”
Nancy Friday
“The most marvelous book I’ve read so far this year.”
Time Magazine
"Larger and more romantic than life."
The New York Times
"A rare, intimate portrait...crowded with anecdotes, comedy and drama."
"A rags to riches fairytale...Rich in anecdote...In a word: Charming!"
"Larger and more romantic than life."
Chicago Tribune
"A wonderful book...eloquent, funny, sad, fascinating."
“First-rate entertainment.”
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061847639
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 1,412,830
  • File size: 713 KB

Meet the Author

Michael Korda is the author of Ulysses S. Grant, Ike, Hero, and Charmed Lives. Educated at Le Rosey in Switzerland and at Magdalen College, Oxford, he served in the Royal Air Force. He took part in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and on its fiftieth anniversary was awarded the Order of Merit of the People's Republic of Hungary. He and his wife, Margaret, make their home in Dutchess County, New York.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It seemed to me when I was young that the three Korda brothers led charmed lives.

When my uncle Alex traveled, he was driven straight to the steps of the airplane in his black Rolls Royce Silver Shadow after all the other passengers had boarded. If he was late the airplane was held until he arrived; ships and trains waited for him, customs and passport formalities were arranged to suit his convenience, officials rushed to make his arrivals and departures effortless and pleasant, swiftly chalking a customs mark on his white calfskin Revelation luggage and on the brassbound morocco traveling humidor with a dovetailed sliding lid and his initials, "A.K.," stamped in the fragrant leather. As a child, I kept pencils, rubber bands and toy soldiers in his cigar boxes, and there was always a faint aroma of cigars and cedar wood in the nursery, like a lingering presence of Alex, though it was not in fact a place he ever visited.

My uncle Zoltán traveled in lesser state, but at great inconvenience to himself and everyone else, for his health required him to move with a variety of private stores and equipment — an oxygen inhaler, plastic bags of fresh and dried California seaweed ("Vair is my kelp?" he was once heard to ask a bewildered porter), a sling so that he could hang himself from hotel doors to stretch his spine, and a suitcase full of medicines.

It could not be said that Zoli enjoyed traveling, but neither did he enjoy staying put. In any case, he was condemned to perpetual travel by the postwar tax laws of the United Kingdom and the United States (theformer his adopted country, the latter his official residence), counting the number of days allowed to him each year in either country, and longing for the simple security of a house in Switzerland, where he could live quietly and pay no taxes, increasing his collection of gold coins and stamps, and endlessly revising the script for Daphne Du Maurier's The King's General, which occupied his attention for the best part of ten years without engaging anyone else's enthusiasm.

Zoli had no choice. Alex found it convenient to have one American resident in the family. At the time British subjects were forbidden to take more than fifty pounds out of the country, and this sum would not have gone far to maintain the 120-foot yacht at anchor in Antibes, on which a captain and a crew of four lived in comfort and idleness the year round, the villa at nearby Biot, with its orange groves and terraces, or the intricate network of foreign film companies, with which Alex insured himself and the family against misfortune, revolution, inflation and Acts of God.

No, Zoli had to travel endlessly, like an ailing, grumbling Flying Dutchman, just as Vincent, my father, the youngest brother, had to have a chauffeur because Alex didn't trust him to drive himself. A benevolent tyrant Alex might be — benevolence was perhaps his most visible quality — but a tyrant nonetheless.

When I was small, and we were living in London before the war, the three brothers seemed to me remote and awesome figures, my father included. His temper was the subject of many family legends. When he was a baby his tantrums were so fearsome that his exasperated parents placed him between the two frames of the traditional Central European double-windows to cry until be was too cold or tired to continue, and had been astonished when he managed to howl and shriek, unheard from behind the glass, for a whole day. These exertions turned his face red, and he was known to those who remembered the Kordas' childhood days as "the Red One," a phrase which puzzled many people in England, who waited in vain for some expression of Communist sympathies from my father.

Since he left the house for the studio at dawn, unwillingly chauffeured on Alex's orders, and returned long after I had been put to bed, I saw very little of him. His temper, if in fact he had one, was never discharged on me; on the contrary, I saw the lavish and disruptive side of his nature, for he usually arrived home accompanied by Hungarian film people — scriptwriters, cameramen, set designers — mysterious and exotic characters who spoke little English. They occasionally appeared in the nursery late at night, to the indignation of Nanny Low, bearing gifts that were usually judged "inappropriate" for children of five. These nocturnal visits were encouraged, sometimes even planned, by my father, partly to annoy Nanny, partly because he disliked the thought of children being disciplined, regimented or deprived of anything they wanted, no doubt a legacy of those hours he spent crying between the double-windows.

Nanny Low's views were more traditional. She protested, she argued, sometimes she even cried, but she gave in. She had brought up the children of peers of the realm; photographs of her charges in intricate filagreed or shagreen frames, Christmas gifts from Asprey's and Mappin & Webb, covered her dresser. Sometimes she would look wistfully at the faces in those frames: young Edward in the ribboned frock coat of the Household Brigade, the Hon. Alice just before her wedding in St. Margaret's (Nanny had pressed one of the wedding flowers under the glass in one corner of the frame), young Lord Robert, looking pudgy and cross, with his dark hair slicked back (Nanny's favorite child for some inexplicable reason). Life in her previous posts had been different, and at times Nanny looked back on it as a Golden Age, but in the Korda atmosphere she was gradually corrupted. My father and his friends turned their lavish charm on her, brought her small presents, introduced her to Hungarian cooking, sometimes even persuaded her to take a glass of wine, with the result that I was often allowed to sit at the dinner table until midnight...

Charmed Lives. Copyright © by Michael Korda. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)