19 Nov 1922 – The Lucky One Talks About Rudy

Whether to call myself Winifred Hudnut or Natacha Rambova or Mrs Rudolph Valentino I don’t know, says Rudolph’s wife in an interview in the December issue of Photoplay Magazine. “Natacha Rambova seems to belong most to me, the individual I think I am, but, of course, I wasn’t born that way. When I went into the Russian Ballet, thought, I had to have a Russian name. That way just after my course at art school in Paris, and I was 17, and I have been using that name ever since. I speak Russian and all that is Russian appeals to me, and moreover, that is what Rudy calls me”. Her eyes soften when she speaks of him, and yet refuses to be romantic about it. “It wasn’t love at first sight,” she says. I think it was good comradeship more than anything else. We were both very lonely, but we had known each other more than six months before we became at all interested in each other. I was working for Nazimova and Rudy was working on “The Four Horsemen” I saw him occasionally and felt a bit sorry for him, because he seemed always to be apart by himself. “You don’t know Rudy when he works. He sees nothing and things nothing and does nothing but live the character he is portraying. As the first of his work in the “Four Horsemen” was finished and the officials saw it, his name began to mean something. They began to talk about him and tell weird stories about his fascination for women and perhaps that was what piqued my interest. What I could figure out was, how anyone could be the villainous person he was reputed to be and yet be home in a tiny room every night about 9:00 pm and on the lot each morning all ready for work before anyone else had even arrived. Still, I never really talked to him until we began to work on ’Camille’. Then his work begun to interest me. There is really nothing sophisticated or seductive about Rudy whatsoever. Its like my drawings. I am perfectly willing to admit they are morbid, yet I am the most prosaic of human beings. “Now Rudy has a personality that comes out on the screen which is entirely different from the Rudy I know. Yet, I believe it is part of him as the exotic quality in my sketches is part of me. But basically he is just a little boy. Things hurt him as they would hurt a child and he is quite as emotional. Also, he is just as spontaneous and trustful, yet with all that there is a remarkable matter-of-factness about him and sincerity. He is the most sincere person I have ever known”. Natacha was trying very hard to be coldly analytical about this young lover of hers. But she wasn’t succeeding very well. Every time she spoke of him the color rose in her white cheeks delightfully. “When we did discover we were in love, she confessed, we had it all planned that we would wait a year until Rudy’s divorce was final. But I knew nothing about divorces and neither did he. They are so different everywhere and we really thought he was divorced and that he received his decree or whatever it was, and thought it was only some state law that kept us from marrying. So on 14 May 1922, we went to Palm Springs on a party. It was fearfully respectable. Everyone we knew was there and we had no thought of being married at that time. “But someone, I don’t remember who, suggested that we go over to Mexico and be married. Several couples we knew had done the samething before under similar circumstances but we had to be the ones who did it once too often. If Rudy hadn’t been Rudy they wouldn’t have jumped on us. Fame is like a giant x-ray. Once you are exposed beneath it the very beatings of your heart are sown to a gaping world. I’ll confess it is rather fun being courted by your own husband. We go out for dinner and the theater together nearly every evening and then he brings me back to my hotel and down in the lobby he bows formally over my hand and I, equally proper bid him good night and stand to watch him until he disappears out of sight on his way back to his hotel.

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