“In January 1936, on my first trip to Egypt, I felt as if I had at last returned home. The first few days I was there I couldn’t stop the tears streaming from my eyes. It was not sadness, but some emotional impact from the past- a returning to a place once loved after too long a time.”–Natacha Rambova
Monthly Archives: February 2014
Rudolph Valentino has deserted all his former “loves” as far as producing pictures is concerned, and is now in close association with United Artists. His first picture under their flag is “The Hooded Falcon,” a colorful Moor- ish drama.
This blog already contains a post about Natacha Rambova as the wife of Rudolph Valentino. This one is about Natacha Rambova the costume designer.
In 1917, Natacha Rambova, started her brief career as a Hollywood costume and set designer for Cecil B. De Mille. Between 1917 and 1921, Rambova made four films for Cecil B. De Mille. As a set designer, Rambova’s works were a highly stylized version of Art Nouveau, infused with the minimalistic feel of Art Deco. She enjoyed employing the flower motifs and the circular ornamentation of Nouveau in all her designs. Her costume designs were bold, feminine and had a European flair that many Hollywood fashions at the time lacked, no doubt as a result of the complete artistic control she exercised over her work. For her costume work on The Young Rajah Natacha traveled to New York to work on the costumes. The film is perhaps best remembered today for its elaborate and suggestive costumes, which were designed by Valentino’s wife Natacha Rambova. Photographs of Valentino wearing these outfits, some of which left little to the imagination, are still widely circulated today.
“There are many roads — all lead to God”.–Amos Judd, “The Young Rajah”
Lets now take a look at the director of Rudolph Valentino’s silent film “The Young Rajah”. Phil Rosen was born on 8 May 1888 and started out as a cinematographer for Thomas Edison. Rosen worked as a projectionist and lab technician before becoming an $18-a-week cinematographer in 1912. In 1918, he went to Los Angeles. During his career he directed 142 films between 1915 and 1949. Although he was never a actor like so many others he never truly enjoyed the success in talkies like he did with Silent Films.
“Cute, sassy, and can even ride a horse Wanda Hawley was one of my favorite actresses to work with.”–Tom Mix, Silent Film Star on his co-star Wanda Hawley
To wrap up our week, Wanda Hawley was a co-star of the movie “The Young Rajah” that starred Rudolph Valentino. But what do we really know about her? Wanda was born on 30 Jul 1895, in Scranton, PA. Her real name was Selma Wanda Pittach. Athough it is noted in Photoplay Magazine, circa 1918, her name was changed to Wanda Hawley. Wanda was a classically trained Opera Singer but found that acting paid better and felt that was more of her calling. It is claimed by Paramount Pictures Publicity Department that she was discovered by Cecil B. Demille. Wanda Hawley began her screen career years before meeting DeMille, and had appeared under the screen name Wanda Petit opposite both Tom Mix and William S. Hart, and played Douglas Fairbanks Jr.’s love interest in “Mr. Fix-It” in 1918. But DeMille made her a star in “Affairs of Anatol,” with Wallace Reid and Gloria (“I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille”) Swanson in 1921. It is noted, her best years were when she was under contract to Paramount Studios.
At the height of her career she received the same amount of mail as Gloria Swanson another famous silent film star who was Rudolph Valentino’s co-star in “Beyond the Rocks” She never made the transition to talking pictures. Falling on hard times, she reportedly worked as a call-girl in San Francisco during the Great Depression years of the early 1930s. She died in 1963 and is buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Rodolph Valentino also came to the screen again this month. After witnessing “The Young Rajah,” in which he is starred, we begin to understand many things, principally among them why Mr. Valentino desired to select his own casts.And if it wasn’t that we remembered from our nursery days that “Two wrongs do not make a right,” we would be sorely tempted to applaud Rodolph Valentino for refusing to continue with his contract. At any rate, while we may still disapprove of him ethically, we sympathize with him emotionally. All of which has probably led you to believe that this is a pretty bad picture. It is. It is about as artistic and as satisfying as a cheap serial. As a matter of fact, it is the concentrated essence of those things which have composed serials since time immemorial. “The Young Rajah” is based on the novel, Amos Judd. It tells of Amos who has been reared in a provincial American town. Then there is the Far East with its rajahs and its maharajahs. Amos really belongs to the East. Furthermore, he belongs to a line of its rulers, and he has inherited the sixth sense bestowed by one of the Indian gods upon the sons of this noble family. It is this sixth sense which serves him well when the usurpers of this kingdom learn of his existence in America and threaten his life. Even The Valentino is somewhat submerged in the mediocrity of this production. Of the supporting cast Charles Ogle is the one member who stands forth with any degree of effectiveness
This movie was based on a play/novel “Amos Judd” by John Ames Mitchell Directed by: Phil Rosen
Written by: June Mathis – screenplay
Rudolph Valentino … Amos Judd
Charles Ogle … Joshua Judd
Fanny Midgley … Sarah Judd
George Periolat … General Devi Das Gadi
George Field … Prince Rajanya Paikparra Munsingh
Bertram Grassby … Maharajah Ali Kahn
Josef Swickard … Narada – the Mystic
William Boyd … Stephen Van Kovert
Robert Ober … Horace Bennett
Jack Giddings … Austin Slade Jr.
Wanda Hawley … Molly Cabot
Edward Jobson … John Cabot
Farrell MacDonald … Amhad Beg – Prime Minister
Spottiswoode Aitken … Caleb (uncredited)
Joseph Harrington … Dr. Fettiplace (uncredited)
Julanne Johnston … Dancing Girl (uncredited)
Pat Moore … Amos as a Child (uncredited)
Maude Wayne … Miss Elsie Van Kovert (uncredited)
Production Company: Famous Players-Lasky Corporation
Released by: Paramount Pictures
Cinematography by: James Van Trees
Costumes by: Natacha Rambova
Presenter: Jesse L. Lasky
On April 13, 1909 The Times reported that Ames Mitchell had bought a “four-story dwelling at 41st East, 67th Street, New York City.” It was a time when the old brownstones had fallen out of fashion. Architects Denby & Nute instead stripped off the old façade and transformed the house to a five-story neo-Classical beauty. Mitchell had been educated as an architect at Harvard and later at the Ecole National Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. But he was a man of many more talents. In 1883 he co-founded the humor magazine Life, the position for which he would be best remembered. He was also an artist, illustrator and author. Mitchell and his highly-popular magazine would introduce America to several new writers and artists—among them Charles Dana Gibson (famous for his Gibson Girls). He found the time to write over a dozen novels, one of which, “Amos Judd,” became the 1922 silent film The Young Rajah starring matinee idol Rudolph Valentino. The publisher-novelist-architect also spent time at the easel and several of his etchings were given honorable mention in the Paris Salon. He and his wife spent the summers in their country home in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Mitchell established the Life Fresh Air Camp in Branchville, which brought city kids to the country for many years. It was located where Branchville School is now. It was there, on June 29, 1918 he died. The New-York Tribune reported that “He suffered a stroke of apoplexy early in the day and his death followed a few hours later.” Mitchell was especially generous to his household staff in his will. His chauffeur received the same amount as did his own sister–$5,000 (about $50,000 today)—and the “servants in his employ all receive legacies of $500,” reported The Sun.
Philip E. Rosen and his megaphone rang the gong on Rudolph Valentino’s second Paramount starring production, “The Young Rajah.” June Mathis wrote the script from “Amos Judd” the novel by John Ames Mitchell. “The Young Rajah” is divided into two complete sequences, one East Indian and the other New England, each requiring an individual set of players. Hence, the supporting line-up is a long one, as well as a notable one. Wanda Hawley is the leading woman, with little Pat Moore, Bertram Grassby, Maud Wayne, J. Farrell McDonald, Bill Boyd, George Periolat, George Fields, G-wge Ober, Charles Ogle, Florence Hidglcy and Edward Jobson among those already signed.
“Men should be judged not by the tint of their skin. The gods they serve, the vintage that they drink Nor by the way they fight, or love, or sin. But rather by the quality of thought they think.” -Intertitle from The Young Rajah, Paramount, 1922.
“(Valentino was) what is commonly called for want of a better name, a gentleman. In brief, Valentino`s agony was the agony of a man of relatively civilized feelings thrown into a situation of intolerable vulgarity.” – H.L. Mencken
Patsy Ruth Miller (January 17, 1904 – July 16, 1995) was an American film actress who was discovered by the actress Alla Nazimova at a Hollywood party, Patsy Ruth Miller got her first break with a small role in Camille, which starred Rudolph Valentino. Miller’s first billed part was in Alla Nazimova’s “Camille” (1921). Prior to beginning work on the movie, she became close friends with Nazimova and spent quite a bit of time at her house. Valentino, prior to his sudden rise to stardom, was also to be in the picture and spent quite a bit of time there, too. Miller and Valentino spent many hours in Nazimova’s pool swimming, but nothing romantic ever developed between the two of them. Miller was 17, and Valentino was 26.
“One evening when Nazimova was entertaining for dinner, Valentino, Miller and several other guests were there. According to Miller, Valentino began a story that told “something about a ballerina, something about being left waiting at the boat. . .” However, before Valentino progressed very far into the story, Nazimova spoke to him in Italian. Valentino said, “Oh, scusi,” and the story came to an abrupt end. Miller felt the story had been halted due to her young age, and she protested to Nazimova but to no avail. Sometime after World War II, Miller said she assisted in carrying foodstuffs to Scotland where there was still a shortage of many food items. She was invited to tea by a friend, and they were served by the maid, “a gaunt, middle-aged woman who looked more Slavic than Scottish. . .”At one point when the maid left the room, the hostess asked Miller if she remembered a cinema star named Valentino. Without revealing her personal contact with Valentino in those early years, Miller simply replied, “Yes.” “Well,”the hostess said, “she knew him personally,” referring to the maid. When the hostess left the house for her weekly ration of gasoline, Miller said she commented to the somewhat unfriendly maid, “I understand you knew Rudolph Valentino.” At first, when Miller said she knew him, too, the maid appeared uninterested. However, Miller added that she had appeared in a movie with him once. At that point, the maid’s demeanor changed. She became more friendly toward Miller and confessed she had known Valentino once, too. When Miller asked the maid to tell her about it, she began her story. She was Polish, she said, and a great ballerina before the First World War. She studied in Russia and danced before many of the crowned heads of Europe. One of her admirers was a German prince for whom she became somewhat of a spy sending him information as she traveled the continent. When in Milano, Italy, she said she unexpectedly fell in love with a young student who was much younger than her. Although she was being unfaithful to her German Prince, although the affair had become a scandal, and although his family was terribly upset, she said they could not help their love. When she left Italy, the young man followed her. For six months they were together during which time she taught him to dance, very easily, by the way, since he was so talented. While in Paris, she received word from her German Prince that the French knew of her spying. She decided the safest place for her would be in America, so she obtained the necessary papers and sent her young lover on ahead to make sure all arrangements were made for their trip. Suddenly, all of her plans fell through. The police came and took her papers and passport away. It was only through the help of a former lover that she was able to escape to Spain. She had no way of contacting her young lover, and she said she somehow knew that he would go on to America without her and not miss this chance. During the war she had to sell all her valuables, but, nevertheless, she did survive with the help of an admiring Spaniard. Seven years later, the maid said, she saw her young lover on the screen and knew he had met with success. She said she never made any attempt to contact him”..
My Hollywood, When Both Of Us Were Young, The Memories of Patsy Ruth Miller by Patsy Ruth Miller, O’Raghailligh Ltd., 1988
“She would see to it that she never had children”..Natacha Rambova, former wife of Rudolph Valentino
Rudolph Valentino, film actor had a miraculous escape from serious injury and possible death last night when his automobile wrecked and its occupants hurled out after the car had struck a railroad guide post while travelling at a high rate of speed. Valentino accompanied by a director and a chauffeur was driving to Hollywood. He was unable to negotiate the sharp turn near Santa Margarita and the car whirled around several times and crashed into the guide post. The three occupants were thrown out but none were injured. The actor left for Hollywood by bus two hours later none the worse for his experience.
“With butlers, maids and the rest, what work is there for a housewife? I won’t be a parasite. I won’t sit home and twiddle my fingers, waiting for a husband who goes on the lot at five a.m. and gets home at midnight and receives mail from girls in Oshkosh and Kalamazoo” –Natacha Rambova, former wife of Rudolph Valentino on her breakup with Valentino