1914 – Cornelius Bliss, Jr Former employer of Rudolph Valentino

On 15 Apr 1875, Cornelius Bliss Jr. was born and raised in New York City. When his father died he left an estate of over $4million of which he received $1,377,935. Cornelius followed his father into politics. In 1897, he graduated from Harvard. On 23 Dec 1913, Rudolph Valentino arrived in New York. Rudolph had a degree in Science of Farming from the Royal Academy of Agriculture. In 1914, through the help of the Commissioner of Immigration, he gave Rudolph Valentino a Letter of Introduction to Cornelius Bliss, Jr for a job as an apprentice gardener on his Long Island estate. Cornelius wanted his grounds landscaped in Italian. Subsequently Cornelius Bliss hired Rudolph Valentino. Rudolph felt this job was beneath him. Rudolph would study the manners of the rich and famous and because of this he often neglected his work. Rudolph wrecked Cornelius’s motorcycle when he crashed it into a tree. The crashed was caused because Rudolph was very near-sighted and could not see far enough ahead to drive safely. Rudolph was called into Cornelius’s presence and was told he no longer required his services because he changed his mind about the Italian gardens he initially wanted done. So Rudolph went to New Jersey and worked as a gardener but again Rudolph felt the position beneath him and he quit. Rudolph had no place to go. Therefore, he went back to see Cornelius Bliss about getting his old job back. Cornelius admired Rudolph for his honesty and had set him up with an allowance and training with the Central Park Commissioner. Upon completion of his training Rudolph went to register to take his exam he found out that he needed to be a citizen of the United States. Because Rudolph realized that citizenship was granted after living 5 years in the United States he could no longer accept further help provided by Cornelius Bliss, Jr. So Rudolph Valentino once again, left his employ.

In World War I, Cornelius Bliss Jr. was a member of President Wilson’s War Council, and in World War II, was chairman of the Red Cross advisory council on war activities. Also, he was a director of the Bankers Trust Company [since at least 1917] and of the New York Life Insurance Company, and an honorary Governor of New York Hospital.

The next time Cornelius Bliss, Jr. saw Rudolph Valentino again, as he became famous was at his funeral. On 27 Aug 1926, Cornelius Bliss Jr. arrived in New York on the White Star Liner Majestic to attend Rudolph Valentino’s funeral. Asked whether he had seen qualities that would make him famous he replied: “My recollection of him was that he was a fine young man.” On Mar 1949, Cornelius Bliss, Jr. died. The “Oak Hill” Georgian Revival Estate (1916) that Rudolph Valentino worked no longer exists.

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