Adnana from All Sails Up, victim of a “camp for foreigners”: the story of Juliet Szönyi, the actress who stole the stage every time

Julieta Szönyi was one of the most beautiful Romanian actresses of all time. Blue-eyed, dark-haired and extremely feminine, she managed to “steal the scene” every time.

She had, from an early age, a penchant for the arts, and this was seen in the plays she acted in, but also later on the big screen.

Julieta Szonyi actress life story all the way up
Julieta Szonyi in the film “Felix and Otilia” 1972

Julieta Szönyi, one of the most beautiful Romanian actresses of all time

Julieta Szönyi was born in Timișoara on May 3, 1949, and is the daughter of the painter Ștefan Szönyi. At the age of 4, she moved with her family to Bucharest, and years later she graduated from the “Ion Luca Caragiale” Institute of Theatre and Cinema.

“I came to Bucharest when I was about 4 years old, so I have vague memories of that house. My grandparents lived in a room separated by a glasvand from another family, with a shared kitchen and bathroom.

Because they were from a good family, they had fancy things in a small space. Grandmother was a homemaker, and Grandfather was a veterinarian who also did sculpture. People who knew him said he was the kind of doctor who, if he got a call in the middle of the night that something had happened to a puppy, he would fix it. Apart from that, his photography was extraordinary; I had some photographs he took, from the First World War period, which I don’t know where they got lost.

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I also know that, in his youth, my father had a studio there, in Timișoara, and that he worked with the painter Corneliu Baba, but also with others; at that time or even earlier, at 24, my father was already considered an exceptional portrait painter. I also want to tell you that my grandmother took care of me during the time my parents divorced and I have splendid memories of her. Once, at Easter, she left home for a bit and at one point I heard some thumping in the shutters.

I was so frightened, she appeared the next second and opened the window to see what was going on. The bunny had brought me a real bunny in a basket. I also remember that my grandmother used to bake many kinds of cakes; she got me cutlery and we cooked the same things in miniature”, Julieta Szönyi told Adevărul in an interview.

Immediately after being assigned, she acted in many plays on the stage of Pitesti, and then, after 1990, she went to the Teatrul Mic in the capital.

In cinema, Julieta Szönyi starred in Mirii Anului II, her first film. Later, she stood out in Felix and Otilia, directed by Iulian Mihu.

However, Romanians remember her best from the TV series Toate Pânzele Sus, where Julieta Szönyi played Adnana, and from Ecaterina Teodoroiu, directed by Dinu Cocea.

Julieta Szonyi - Adnana
Julieta Szönyi – in the TV series “All sails up” 1975 – 1977

Julieta Szönyi has a sister as beautiful as her

Julieta Szönyi lived in a trilingual family, speaking Romanian, Hungarian and German.

“The first two classes I went to a Romanian school and then the Hungarian school moved close to home. I also went to Hungarian high school. Now I remember that I had an extraordinarily good Romanian language teacher: he had a sense of humour, he was also smart. I was always making a fuss about grammar and one day she started to say it: Whoever learns all of Letter III- by tomorrow gets two A’s in the catalogue”, Julieta Szönyi recounts.

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Immediately after the Revolution, she sought her fate in another country “It was funny. I went to Germany in ’90 with my ex-husband, a doctor, we ended up in the so-called camp for ethnic German foreigners, then they took our chest X-rays, gave us our room and board. My son, Alexander, was young and had stayed in the country. My aunt and cousin, who had settled us in, had not left yet, and I sat down in the room for two minutes, and then I said, “Let’s go home!

After that, we decided to stay only a month, while my husband had his leave, and come back. I couldn’t see myself there,” she added, according to the source cited above.

Soon after returning to the country, she divorced, then remarried lawyer Mihai Ghica. Lately, she returned to cinema in Corneliu Porumboiu’s La Gomera and Antonio Pisu’s The Adventures of Italians in the East.

julieta szonyi
Julieta Szönyi (Photo: Vlad Cioplea)

Nowadays, not many people know that Julieta Szönyi has a sister, who is equally beautiful and was also an actress.

Her name is Anca Szönyi Thomas and she became famous in Ciuleandra, a film directed by Sergiu Nicolaescu.

However, soon after this film was made, in 1990, Anca Szönyi Thomas moved to France and married French politician Jean-Pierre Thomas.

She never returned to film, preferring instead to pursue charitable and artistic activities.

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