1997 – Crown Point, IN

Crown Point became the marriage mill of the Midwest because couples could obtain a license and be married immediately by justices of the peace with offices nearby, by the city’s mayor, clerk-treasurer or local judges. For example, on March 14, 1923, Rodolfo Guglielmi (AKA Rudolph Valentino) and art director Winifred de Wolfe (AKA Natacha Rambova) applied for a marriage license. They had traveled to Chicago to be married when his divorce from his first wife became final, then learned that Illinois law required a year’s wait for a remarriage. They traveled to Crown Point, where he took out a marriage license listing his birth name as Rodolfo Alfonzo Rafaelo Pierre Filbert Guglielmi de Valentine D’Antonguola, and his occupation as motion picture player. “As he left the (license) office, Valentino (and his bride) crossed the street and went to the second story of the building where Howard Kemp, the justice of the peace, performed the ceremony,” recalled Wilbur Heidbreder, now 92, who worked for the Lake County Title Co. and was at the Old Courthouse at the time of Valentino’s wedding. After the ceremony, the couple strolled by a few stores and stopped in a bakery, where the heartthrob bought a doughnut for his new bride, Heidbreder recalled.

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