Welcome to Rudolph Valentino Blogathon hosted by Timeless Hollywood. My contribution is the Mineralava Tour of 1923.
So the year was 1923, and one of the biggest movie stars of the day, Rudolph Valentino was frustrated with the way he was treated by his studio Famous Players-Laskey. Rudy felt that the money he was making for his studio justified him receiving a bigger salary than what he was currently getting. Rudolph Valentino solicited advice from his soon to be wife on what to do about his mounting frustration. So taking her advice he walked out on his contract. Famous Players-Laskey suspended him from making movies and they also, won an injunction which forbad him from making movies with any other studio. Rudolph Valentino had a massive spending problem he spent money like it was going out of style and combined with his massive legal bills from fighting his divorce with his former wife June Acker. Without money coming in Rudolph Valentino and his soon to be wife had to come up with a way of making money to pay for their expenses. George Ullman a public relations man representing Mineralava Beauty Company found a loophole in the contract that did not exclude product endorsements. So the idea was an exhibition dance tour of the country. Rudolph Valentino and his soon to be second wife Natacha Rambova would both embark on an arduous exhibition tour that would take them through more than 88 cities within the United States and Canada. The exhibition tour began in Feb 1923 and for more than 17 weeks they danced the tango together; they judged beauty contests and best dancer contests all of which was sponsored by Natacha’s step-father Richard Hudnut.
So, the Valentino’s started the tour off in New York City’s Century Theater at a benefit for the Actors Fund hosted by Will Rogers. Let’s look at what occurred during the Mineralava Exhibition Dance Tour. The couple traveled to each city in style in a luxuriously appointed private Pullman car with its own staff. They were mobbed in every city on the tour, numerous curtain calls and demands for encore performances. After each stop, Valentino would talk to the audience about his wife’s beautiful complexion and explained that Mineralava Beauty Clay developed and maintained her complexion. The Exhibition Tour gave the couple the publicity they felt was rightly theirs combined with a big weekly salary including entrance profits that all equals to they were making bank. Local newspapers were full of Rudolph Valentino beauty ads showing Rudy claiming to use Hudnuts Mineralava Beauty Clay on his face, performance reviews and a re-showing of his old movies. On 14 Mar 1923, during one of their nearby tour stops (Chicago) the couple got married in Crown Point, Indiana. The Mineralava Exhibition Dance Tour ended in June 1923. However, there was another angle to this tour and that was Mineralava Company sponsoring a beauty contest which would generate free publicity for the company. The Beauty Contest had Valentino as the “featured” judge. In addition, to performing a dance number, and judging dance contests he judge a local beauty contest and the winner would move on to become a semi-finalist. On 22 Nov 1923, all of the local beauty contest semi-finalists went to New York City for the finals. During their time in the city they were housed on an entire floor of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. On 23 Nov 1923, all semi-finalists were taken in a fleet of taxi-cabs to Fifth Avenue where they officially met by 3 marching bands and the acting mayor of New York City. Then they all walked to Madison Square Garden. Rudolph Valentino was contracted to appear and with his panel of judges would decide who the winner would be. The end result was a short film made by David O. Selznick called “Rudolph Valentino and his 88 American Beauties”. The reason for this short film was another way for the studio to make even more money from the publicity generated from the tour plus Rudy had not made a movie in quite sometime. The winner of the beauty contest was Norma Niblock of Toronto. The final shots of the short film showed Rudolph Valentino surrounded by the winners. This film still exists today.
i hope you enjoy reading this article. Again thank you Timeless Hollywood.