Sep 2014 – Q & A with noted author Donna Hill


First off, I want to thank you for this opportunity to interview you for my blog. I enjoyed your first book and I think between that, the yearly calendar, your facebook RV group and your website I am a fan of yours.

Well, thank you! I’m very happy that you enjoy the website and the book, which as I am sure you’ve guessed was a labor of love.

The first question is why Rudolph Valentino?

Oh gosh, that question takes too much time to respond. To answer a questions with a question, I’ll start with “why not?” But you might find an answer to that question here: and also in reading the introduction in my book. For the purpose of this questionnaire, I suppose the short answer was I was smitten at an early age by the man’s appeal and his in screen magnetism. Everything else that followed was a natural progression of my interest as my fascination in the real Valentino grew, opposed to the “reel” Valentino.

The second question is as a Valentino collector what is your very favorite item you collected?

I do love the personal items that belonged to Valentino, they are very special. I think, perhaps, one of my favorite items that fell into my hands might be and item which Valentino, himself, seemed very proud. It is a pre-publication proof/copyright exhibit of what later became his book Day Dreams. Valentino sent it to a friend in Palm Springs. It bears a very warm and personal inscription from both Valentino and Rambova. I also have the copy of Day Dreams that Rudy gave to his sister in 1923 in Rome.

I have to say, however, I do not measure the value of any particular item more than another. Honestly, I am a temporary custodian and must take care of the items. That is a responsibility. To that end, all are special. As you might guess, I do love the candid and rare photographs. I love digging out the truth of the photos, where they were taken, when and the story behind them. It’s like being a bit of a detective, it’s fun.

The third question is what was the idea behind your current book?

I vaguely announced on my Facebook page for RV The Silent Idol my next project is a book about Valentino’s film career. I’ve uncovered some interesting material and hope to have an interesting book out of it. This is an area that has not really been covered in depth, so I’m enjoying the research part of things right now a good deal. It will not be as photo heavy as RV The Silent Idol, frankly I don’t think I can top that. That said, I do have some really wonderful rare photos to use, including some very early candid snapshots before he was a star that have recently come to light. I hope to have it finished for publication in 2015.

The fourth question is there is a lot of positive reviews on your book. As an author, that must make you feel that what you published was worth it. Are there any future plans for a new book?

The future book, see above. My other book project is not Valentino-related, though there is a small connection. On the back burner is a biography of Dorothy Gish (who as you know starred in a film in 1919 in which Valentino had an early role).

Regarding RV The Silent Idol, the reviews have been very gratifying. It’s sold far better than I ever imagined it would considering blurb’s pricing structure and I feel a great sense of pride in it. Given the limitations I had in self-publishing, it was a job pretty well done. That it has been embraced so warmly is nice as an ego boost because I worked very hard on it. It’s garnered some really positive reviews and still sells with limited distribution and word of mouth. What’s not to like?

The fifth question is could you tell us your plans for an updated look for your website?

The website is LONG overdue for a revamp. Once I get going on updating, it will be cleaner, with I hope a lot more content. Sadly, life events, working a day job and trying to research Valentino Book 2.0 have taken their toll on my ability to keep up the website. On top of that, technology is passing by at a rapid pace! I need to put in some time to ramp up to speed with all I need to know for the new website. I’m too much of a control freak to hire someone to do the work for me. With the new book happening right now, I suspect the website will continue to be back-burnered for the rest of 2014, I’m afraid.

No, thank you again for your interest. Always nice to “meet” even virtually other Valentino fans. It is always nice to have a shared interest. Hopefully we can meet in person at the Valentino Memorial in 2015, I hope to be there. You could now answer the questions up above for me! 😉

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2 thoughts on “Sep 2014 – Q & A with noted author Donna Hill

  1. I really enjoyed reading your fascinating blog about this remarkable actor. As a Debrie owner and enthusiast I hope you don’t mind me making some corrections to your post about Valentino’s cameras.
    The Model L with the three focusing systems came out after his death, in 1927. His looks like the Model K which was introduced at the time of the photo, in 1924. The 240 frames per second was a feat achieved by a special and rare Debrie camera, the Grande Vitesse. The Le Parvos could be hand-cranked up to 24 fps, but the normal silent film speed was 16 fps (there is a tachometer on the back of the camera).

    • Thank you for your kind comment and information on Rudy’s camera. When I was researching for this article I was fascinated about the art of how this camera looked. There is allot of information on rare cameras but it’s the correct information that is important. Again, I truly appreciate you sending the correct information on the camera.

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