My uncle, Sir Alexander Korda, who came to Hollywood in 1926 to direct his wife, the Hungarian silent film star Maria Corda, in The Private Life of Helen of Troy, worked briefly for the studio owned and controlled at the time by Joseph P. Kennedy, and on his first day on the lot gave the financier and father of President-to-be John F. Kennedy a courtly bow as he passed him. He overheard Kennedy say to his assistant, “Who does that guy think he is, some kind of fucking baron or something?” Alex later described his brief period of working for Joe Kennedy as “a reign of terror,” and moved on to work at the Fox Studio for Sol Wurzel, whom he described as awful, but better than Kennedy.
In his flamboyant love affair with Gloria Swanson, Kennedy was dealing with his equal, a woman who was too famous for him to push around.
Kennedy apparently disliked Alex’s courtly manners, his Sulka silk shirts, his Hungarian accent, and his air of intellectual superiority. Although Alex was not a man to hold a grudge, his opinion of Kennedy did not change when the latter became United States Ambassador to the Court of St. James in March 1938. Alex, by then himself the owner of Britain’s largest film studio and a hugely successful producer and director, thought the new American ambassador was a yahoo, an anti-Semite, and an appeaser of Nazi Germany, and he was right on all counts.