Jon Voight's early TV carrier shifted to the movies with his highly recognized role of a would-be street hustler in Midnight Cowboy (dir. John Schlesinger, 1969), for which he received the BAFTA Most Promising Newcomer award.

Granddad's hats


With the U.S. Army as one of its clients, George Voytka's employer, the Waring Hat Manufacturing Company, was the largest hat producer in the world.



Jon Voight received the Best Actor award in Cannes, and both he and Jane Fonda Oscars for their lead roles in Coming Home (dir. Hal Ashby, 1978) about a returning Vietnam War veteran.

Place of birth?

The boxes on George Voytka's First World War Draft Registration Card say, among other things, that he was tall, of medium build, had blue eyes, and "light" hair, but while numerous webpages claim so, the card has no box for the place or country of birth, nor is it noted incidentally anywhere on it (see the center column). Genealogist Marek Rímsky corroborated that when he searched the church birth and baptismal records in the city of Košice from around 1879 and found no matching name.

Jon Voight

Q: Is Jon Voight Slovak?

Jonathan Vincent Voight was born in Yonkers, NY, on 29 December 1938. Both of his paternal grandparents said they came from Slovak families. His maternal grandfather immigrated from Büren, Germany.

From Kingdom to Yonkers

Jon Voight's paternal grandfather, first name George in English (Juraj or Jur in Slovak), said on his World War I Registration Card that he was born on 24 April 1879. He immigrated from the Habsburg Empire at around the age of 16 and identified himself and both of his parents as Slovak in the 1910 Census. Contrary to numerous webpages, his Registration Card does not list the town or village where he was born, the municipality is unknown (see also the right sidebar):

regcard1 regcard2

Jon Voight was quoted as saying that his grandfather had come "from Czechoslovakia" (a country that separated from the Habsburg Empire in 1918 and contained Slovakia) and first went to Shickshinny in Pennsylvania where he became a coal miner. George later found a job in a hat factory in the Hudson Valley, the Draft Registration Card recorded his employer as the Waring Hat Co. in Yonkers in 1918.

Jon Voight's paternal grandmother Helen, George's 7-year-younger wife, gave her birth place as New Jersey, her parents' ethnicity as Slovak in the 1910 Census, and the country of their birth as (the Kingdom of) Hungary, a province of the Habsburg Empire that included Slovakia at that time. George and Helen still lived in Yonkers when Jon was born to their younger son Elmer.

From Vojtka to Voight

George spelled his last name Voytka in U.S. documents. Its common Slovak spelling is Vojtko [VOYT-ko], it ends in -a in about 10% of its occurrences in Slovakia. With either of the endings, the last name developed in the distant past from the diminutive of Vojtech, the Slovak equivalent of Adalbert, an old Slovak and West Slavic name based on the root voj- "combat, war."

George's family alternated the spelling of their name between Voytka and Voytko in the U.S. While George retained the earlier Anglicized spelling of his original name, both of his sons had changed their last name to Voight by 1929.