Tonda Marton has been running The Marton Agency since 1992 when she took over the agency that her aunt Elisabeth Marton founded in 1953. She was born in Los Angeles and raised there and overseas. Tonda has a BA from Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles and an MFA in stage directing from UCLA. Because of her nomadic childhood, she speaks French, Spanish, Italian, and German which has often proved useful in selling plays and musicals overseas.
Dr. Alexander (Sándor) Marton, Tonda’s grandfather, was a copyright lawyer in Budapest before the First World War. Through his office, which was essentially the first theatrical rights agency in Europe, he represented the top playwrights and librettists of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as well as many American authors in Hungary including Thornton Wilder, Clifford Odets, and Paul Osborn. Between the First and Second World Wars, Sándor traveled frequently to Washington, DC to establish copyright protection for his authors. He had three children: George, Elisabeth, and Andrew (Tonda’s father).
Elisabeth Marton was born in Budapest in 1902, studied art history in Italy, and apprenticed in her father Sándor Marton’s literary agency. In her early 20’s she married the Baron Ludwig Hatvany, becoming the Baroness Hatvany. In 1944 she was imprisoned by the Nazis in Budapest (in the same cell as Hannah Senesh’s mother). She survived the war and eventually evacuated with her mother to Los Angeles where her two brothers had already established themselves.
Deciding to follow her father’s work, she moved to New York City in the early 1950’s where she established a literary agency beginning with the same writers that Sándor Marton had represented in Budapest. These included Thornton Wilder and Clifford Odets, though now Elisabeth was working with their NY agents and selling their plays into translation internationally. Tonda Marton joined the agency in 1980.
George Marton was a well-known literary agent in Vienna between 1925 and 1938 under his company the Georg Marton Verlag which was later bought by the Thomas Sessler Verlag, still active in Austria today. After the Anschluss George escaped to Paris with his extended family and many of his writer-clients. When the Nazi invasion of France was imminent, George moved his family to Los Angeles. There he represented some Austrian and German writers in their Hollywood deals, and also served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the National Guard during World War II. Returning to Paris after the war, he created a new literary agency called MartonPlay, which also represented 20th Century Fox in France. He retired in the early 1970’s although MartonPlay continued to exist through the 1990’s under the direction of Marta Andras. George Marton wrote six novels after his retirement.
Andrew Marton began his film career at 18 as an editor in Vienna, and moved to the United States in 1923. There he met the Czech silent film star Jarmila Vacek whom he married in 1928 in Vienna. They moved to Berlin where Andrew (known as Bundy) made many films for UFA, the famous Berlin studio. In 1934 he and Jarmila fled to London and then to Los Angeles where he became a contract director at MGM.
Andrew directed 39 films and worked on 16 films as a second unit director. He created, most notably, the chariot race in the 1959 “Ben Hur” (for which he won a Golden Globe Award), the US D-Day landing in “The Longest Day,” and the Italian troop movements in the 1957 “A Farewell to Arms.” His own films include “King Solomon’s Mines”, “Green Fire”, and “The Thin Red Line”.