LENGYEL, MENYHÉRT (Melchior; 1880–1974), Hungarian playwright. Born in Balmazújváros, Lengyel started his career as a journalist but soon began writing for the theater. His most successful plays included Próféta ("The Prophet," 1911), A cárnö ("The Czarina," 1913), Róza néni ("Aunt Rose," 1913), and Antónia (1925). In 1929 Lengyel was appointed director of a Budapest avant-garde theater. He wrote the libretto of the ballet Csodálatos mandarin ("The Miraculous Mandarin") for the composer Béla Bartók. In 1931 he moved to London and then in 1937, to the United States. Lengyel's best-known play, which had a worldwide success, was Tajfun ("Typhoon," 1909), in which he dealt with a contemporary political problem – the whirlwind progress of the Japanese and the resulting danger to the world. In a dramatization of *Cervantes' classic Don Quixote, Sancho Panza királysága ("The Reign of Sancho Panza," 1919), Lengyel expressed his own views on the just society. He also wrote the scripts for several famous films, including Catherine the Great (1934, starring Elisabeth Bergner); an adaptation of his own Czarina; The Blue Angel (1932, with Marlene Dietrich); and Ninotchka (1940, with Greta Garbo). Years later, Lengyel published Das stille Haus (1957). In his later years he lived in Rome.
Magyar Irodalmi Lexikon, 2 (1965), 34–35.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.