Kiralfy Mausoleum


Kiralfy Mausoleum

Imre Kiralfy
1845-April 27, 1919
Green-Wood Cemetery
Brooklyn, New York

Imre Kiralfy was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire city of Pest, now Budapest, Hungary, in 1845. He was the oldest of seven children born to Jacob Konigsbaum, a well-to-do clothing manufacturer, and his wife Anna (Rosa) Weisberger. The Jewish family suffered through the 1848 Hungarian Revolution. Young Imre showed a talent for the arts, and dancing in particular, making his debut as a Hungarian folk dancer at age four. He adopted the stage name Kiralfy. Eventually five of his six siblings joined him on stage.

The family moved to Berlin and then to Paris while the children performed in theatres in Britain, France, and the Low Countries. In 1872 Imre married Englishwoman Marie Graham (1851-1942) in New York. The couple had nine children, but only six survived into adulthood. The Kiralfy brothers produced extravagant stage shows with large chorus lines, elaborate costumes, and spectacular special effects, but, after a few years, the brothers split due to artistic differences.

Imre struck out on his own, producing shows in England and the United States. His best known productions were The Fall of Babylon, Nero, Columbus, and The Black Crook.

Assisted by his son Charles, Imre created a lavish spectacle, titled America, in Auditorium Theatre in Chicago to coincide with the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, or the Chicago World’s Fair. America grossed $900,000 in its seven-month run. Returning to London, Imre rebuilt the Earl’s Court exhibition grounds as a small-scale version of Chicago’s White City in 1893. In 1905 he began planning Great White City in the Shepherd’s Bush section of London. Built in a palatial oriental style, it opened in 1908 with the Franco-British Exhibition, and eventually tallied eight million visitors. Imre Kiralfy died in Brighton, England leaving £136,000 (about 8 million dollars today) in his will.
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