Monthly Archives: April 2016

1 Jun 1934 Mae Murray to Return to the Stage in “The Milky Way”

Mae Murray, film star of the silent pictures and best known for the “Merry  Widow”, will take over the leading feminine role in “The Milky Way” at the  Cort Theater on Monday evening, 11 Jun. Her role will be that of Ane, originally performed by Gladys George and now in the hands of Mildred West. Mae Murray originally a Follies girl and then the dancing partner of Clifton Webb for a time has not appeared on the legitimate stage in more than a decade. She is entertaining the cast “The Milky Way” with the idea of beginning a stage career as a straight non-singing or dancing comedy actress.

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1889-1965: Mae Murray The Girl with the bee stung lips

We have to remember that the legacy of the Motion Picture and Television Fund originates in a time where those most famous cared for those most not. Different times, to be sure. The contentious battle to keep the doors of the Long-Term Care facility open often overshadows the honesty, compassion and caring that characterized these early years.

Mae Murray became a star of the club circuit in both the United States and Europe, performing with Clifton Webb, Rudolph Valentino and John Gilbert as some of her many dance partners. She made many films, her most famous role probably opposite John Gilbert in the Erich von Stroheim-directed film “The Merry Widow” (1925).  However, when silent movies gave way to talkies, Murray’s voice proved not to be compatible with the new sound and her career began to fade. At the height of her career in the early 1920s, Murray — along with such other notable Hollywood personalities as Cecil B. DeMille (who later became her neighbor in Playa Del Rey), Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Irving Thalberg — was a member of the board of trustees at the Motion Picture & Television Fund. The MPTF is a charitable organization that offers assistance and care to those in the motion picture and television industries without financial resources. Murray made many career mistakes, but somehow managed to eke out a living for many years. As great an actress as Murray was, her voice was better suited for silent films. Her lilting, soft voice was no match for the blossoming audio technology that favored a personality and voice bigger than life. Murray’s career had peaked. She had built an enormous mansion on the sand at 64th Avenue and Ocean Front Walk, across the street from the Del Rey Lagoon and a few yards from Ballona Creek, where she was quite the hostess. She became notorious for her beachfront parties, attended by a virtual Who’s Who in Hollywood and lasting days at a time. Apparently she owned stock in some of the oil wells that were located in her own back yard. As if following a modern-day script that is so familiar, her rise to fame was seconded only by her fall into poverty. By 1933, Murray was broke and ordered by the court to sell her opulent Playa Del Rey estate to pay a judgment against her. Her life was never the same after that. The lawsuit that resulted in the judgment was entered by Rosemary Stack, mother of future actor Robert Stack.

Moving to New York to find work, Murray was arrested for vagrancy after being found sleeping on a park bench. When she returned to California, she often was seen wandering the streets of Playa Del Rey and sitting on the beach near her former home. In 1964, living off charity and devoted friends, the poor deluded Murray continually traveled by transcontinental bus from coast to coast on a self-promoted publicity tour, hoping for a comeback in movies. On the last of these excursions, she lost herself during a stopover in Kansas City, Mo., and wandered to St. Louis. The Salvation Army found her on the streets and sent her back to Los Angeles. She rented a small Hollywood apartment near the Chinese Theatre, paid for by actor George Hamilton. Mae Murray passed away in 1965, at the Motion Picture House in Woodland Hills, Calif. — the very place she had helped to found. Funny how the entertainment industry was able to “pay it forward” during a time of world social upheaval and economic uncertainties. The ’60s was no place for an amateur. Mae’s final home, the Motion Picture Home, was a culmination of her career in entertainment and a fitting end to her life. According to Mae’s obituary in the Los Angeles Times, published March 28, 1965, she maintained to the end: “You don’t have to keep making movies to remain a star. Once you become a star, you are always a star.” Among her peers, Mae was a star at the Motion Picture Home, even when that star dimmed and all she had left was the commitment bestowed upon her by the motion picture industry.

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17 Jan 1923 Ben Hur Selection

Ben Hur Selections continue to be reported. Now it is said William Desmond is still being considered for the title role of the spectacle Goldwyn will make, though Valentino remains reported as the choice. Its reaffirm that Marshall Nellan will direct.

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agnes a

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29 Jun 1929 – Alberto Valentino Files Suit

Jun 29 – Alberto Guglielmi, brother of the late Rudolph Valentino filed suit against Mrs. Adle Schell, Dale Frederick, and Richard Shaw for damages resulting an auto accident last January.

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13 Jan 1921 – On Set

“Bow, wow, wow, ruff”, a series of canine exclamations come from under an umbrella. Peeping around the edges we discover Rudolph Valentino who is taking the part of Julio in “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” for Metro. Mrs. Malcom Hamilton and Gertrude Selby having a “dog-gone” good time with a pair of dwarfish, fluffy, canines, who insist on staging a fight and barking loudly every time they are a familiar sight on set.

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Rudolph Valentino wins Recognition

Dear Editor,

I have been of reader of your magazine for a number of years, and have found everything that is contained of great interest, as well as a help to movie fans. I have been a fan of Rudolph Valentino and the paragraphs below will tell you why:

I first had the opportunity to see Mr. Valentino in “Passions Playground” for that picture, he had a very small part, but he played it very well. I also had the pleasure of seeing him in one or two more pictures since
then and he then seemed to me as being a very capable actor. I heard he was going to star in the screen version of “The Four Horsemen” I was very happy indeed. He will make a great success as Julio the leading character in the movie. I now understand he is playing Armand to Mme. Nazimova in Camille, and I know that he will be taking his place on the center stage among other leading men in silent drama. I hope he will have a good many more admirers in the future.

Sincerely yours,
Lillian Crozier, 208 W.148th Street, NYC

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Dec 1920 – Story bought by Metro for Filming

Metro Pictures Corporation has just purchased for production on screen, the motion picture rights to “The Unchartered Sea” a novel by John Fleming Wilson. “The Unchartered Sea” will be placed in production before long, although the exact dates have not as yet been announced.

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1933 – Movies and Conduct Study

During the three past decades Motion Pictures have become one of the chief forms of amusement in the lives of the American people and have given birth to a giant industry with a formidable financial structure. Motion pictures inspire day-dreaming and fantasy. The writers of motion pictures expressly point out to motion pictures as an influence in some way or other on their fantasy life. This study details the accounts of thoughts collected from young women on motion pictures. The high school or college student may just easily picture herself, in her imagination as the much sought-after heroine.

The movies a source of information on love behavior
Motion pictures with their vivid display of love-techniques offer a means of gaining knowledge. The possibilities of motion pictures in providing such instruction suggested in account the accounts listed:

As I progressed in years, I became interested in the girls about me at school and at play. I had a sweetheart whom I admired from afar, for as yet I was so bashful I became tongue-tied in her presence. I recall how I wished that I could be as free and easy in their presence as Rudolph Valentino was, and I watched for his pictures with special interest for I thought that I might be able to assimilate some of his ability or technique, if you wish to call it that, and would be able to use it on my girl               – Male, 20, College Sophmore.

When only 14 years of age, I fell in love with one of my classmates; and I can remember that after seeing Rudolph Valentino in “The Sheik” I would try to make love to my girl as he did to the heroine, but I guess I was a miserable failure – Male, 19, College Sophomore

Day-Dream and Fantasy
Day-dreaming is something every woman does. I still day-dream about my favorite movie star or a fated romance. I recall Rudolph Valentino who impressed himself in my mind as though no other movie character has done. Whenever I saw desert pictures, I thought it would be thrilling to live in a tent like an Arab and travel from place to place. I thought it would be wonderful to be captured by some strong brave man like Rudolph Valentino. His pictures impressed me so much that I used to dream about them at night. I loved the beautiful scenery in the day and night. I hoped that someday I would be able to visit the desert land and ride a camel. Rudolph Valentino and Vilma Banky were my favorite desert stars. I always thought of Rudolph Valentino as a typical desert hero and Vilma Banky as a beautiful angel of the desert – Female 20, College Junior.

Rudolph Valentino was quite my ideal when I was at this age. My mother did not approve of my going to see these pictures, but what did a little thing like that matter to me? His pictures more than any of the others, I believe, carried me over into a fancy-life. His leading ladies I always resented. I repeatedly tossed them aside and put myself in their place. After seeing “The Sheik” I was in a daze for a week. Female, 18, HS Senior

I fell in love with Rudolph Valentino and Warner Baxter. Rudy was such a perfect lover and he kissed divinely. I could imagine myself being in his leading woman’s place when he prostrated her with a kiss, and I even thrilled at the thought – Female, 16, HS junior

Vivid in my memory is the image of Rudy in “The Sheik” his passionate lovemaking stirred me as I was never before. For many days, I pictured myself as his desert companion in the most entrancing scenes that my imagination could build – Female, 19, HS Senior

The first picture which stands out in my memory is “The Sheik”, featuring Rudolph Valentino. I was at the impressionable and romantic age of 12 or 13 when I saw it. I recall coming home that night and dreaming the entire picture over again; myself as the heroine, being carried over the burning sands by an equally burning lover. I could feel myself being kissed in the way the Sheik had kissed the girl. I wanted to see it again but it was forbidden – Female, 20, College Junior

After seeing every picture of Rudolph Valentino, I would go home and day-dream because that was all that I had to look forward to. My dreams of him made me realize that one day a tall and thoughtful man such as Rudy was would truly love and understand me. Without thoughts or words we simply knew one another and would grow old together the romance we seen on the screen was our romance in real life – Female, Jewish, 23, College Senior

Some publicists and editorial writers expressed amazement at the overwhelming popular interest displayed in Valentino at the time of his death. If American girls were affected to the extent to with many of the high school and college girls who have contributed to this study seemed to have been, there is little occasion for bewilderment over the incident.

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dorothy applebee

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11 Mar 1941 – Valentino Romance Recalled

Rudolph Valentino’s romance with Pola Negri was recalled in a $13,042 suit filed by the Bank of America against Rudolph’s brother Alberto Valentino, now a studio employee. The action involves a note for $8000.00 signed by Miss Negri and the late film star on which only $581.74 has been paid off. The bank obtained a judgement of $9,660.00 in 1936 and is renewing its claim at the end of five years, with 7% interest. Unable to serve papers on the actress, who is said to be in Switzerland, the bank seeks to hold Alberto responsible for the entire amount.

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Apr 1935 – Inside news of Hollywood

Alberto Valentino with his wife and son, faces the necessity of finding another home. for a number of years now, the Valentino family have been living in rooms over the garage at Falcon Lair. they have drawn a monthly wage of $3500 as caretakers. There have been times, when work was scarce, when that money was all they had to live on. Now that their tiny income is gone and the roof over their heads too, Alberto has to find work. Not that he hasn’t tried, walking the streets day after day, anxious to take any honest job. But work isn’t easy to find for a man who speaks broken English. Surely, in this great industry, there is a place for him. His brother is one of filmdom’s immortals. Sentimentality alone should demand that somebody give him a job. He speaks and writes four languages. Yet his adopted homeland the country that applauded Rudy to the echo, hasn’t a friendly hand for Alberto Valentino.

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1920 – Once to Every Woman

Rudolph Valentino, playing Juliantino Visconti, and Dorothy Phillips, as Aurora Meredith, in a tense embrace from the 1920 Universal production Once to Every Woman, a lost film.

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Apr 1930 – Value of Pictures

Strangely enough it was Rudolph Valentino who first interested me in the value of pictures. That was five years ago in Paris just a short time before he passed on. At a large dinner party at a chateau just outside of the city. Valentino was the host and I was the guest of honour. As I sat at Valentino’s right at the big oval table beautifully set with thin old silver and rare Sevres porcelain I wondered what on earth I would talk about to this youth I had seen many moving pictures of course, but of the film people I know nothing. Suddenly Valentino looked me full in the face and I was shocked. Astounded. Here was a man whose personality would light up a room and had conquered the women of the world he was instead a true spiritual type. “How we talked”. What a dinner it was. Valentino and I both believed the same. I can’t say we believed the same religion. I don’t like that word and never use it. For what the world needs is more Christianity and less Creed. But we hold to the same spiritual principles. The Valentino evening remains a vivid memory. I never say him again. I thought then and I think now that he was an unhappy man. He was seeking the spiritual qualities which he could not find in his present material world.

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10 Feb 1923 – The New Novel

A new critic of literature has advanced to join the army which already exists, a critic from the allied kingdom of the movies. Rudolph Valentino,–actor, artist, dancer, and now author,–has called attention to a different horizon for the novel in an article in the Bookman. Valentino’s ideas are not from the stereotyped mould designed for an interview with any given “star” (leaving blanks for name and sex). He offers some interesting and constructive suggestions. One of these is that authors for the screen must write better literature,–startling doctrine from a “movie man”! The average literary critic looks upon the scenario writer as on a lower rung in the anthropological ladder and on the actor as a mechanical if “artistic” mimic  who follows his director’s instructions as far as they are printable. The actor turns on the scenario writer in self-defense, and both combine to denounce the critic. The real trouble is deeper than the vicious circle. What is needed for the normal, healthy development of the moving pictures is good fiction of a distinctive type. It must have, besides dramatic possibilities, “color” and good delineation of character. Great novels of the past have been  unearthed, revamped, and set before the public as “super-productions”. Myths have been blended into history to make a film character of Robin Hood. “Eugenie Grandet”, rechristened “The Conquering Power,” made a “gripping  photo-drama”. But in all of these the character has appeared ready-made for the actor to interpret. The average scenario supplies nothing more than the mechanics of the plot; the conception of the character is left entirely to the actor,  a task which is usually beyond his powers. A new school of writing must be developed, a literature written directly for the moving pictures not taken over and adapted to it. And the school is not without apt pupils. Ibanez has achieved success as a cinema author, where he failed as a writer of scenarios, pure and simple. Rafael Sabbatini has developed a new variation of the historical novel built around one interesting central character and his work is likely to find a second outlet in the movie world. But only the edges of  the new field have begun to be tapped. The “problem novel” has come, soon to depart without leaving many regrets. The cycle of screen literature has not yet revolved past the point at which action is the main requirement. But with action, Valentino and other critics have recognized the need of real literary value and true characterization.

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1930 Falcon Lair


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