If you happen to possess a “personally autographed” photo of screen actor Rudolph Valentino, chances are that it was actually signed by another Rudolph. Rudolph Hagen, Neptune City who is now 75 spent nearly 40 years in the motion picture industry, behind the scenes in production and distribution of silent and sound movies. In 1925, Hagen was in charge of accounting for Ritz Carlton Pictures in Hollywood was temporarily recruited to sign several hundred photographs of Valentino to fill the requests by his adoring fans. “I studied Valentino’s signature and remember that it was very unique with the letters d and a being different. After some practice, I was able to duplicate it almost exactly” he recalled. Valentino was under contract with Ritz Carlton at the time starring in its first production “Cobra” with Nita Naldi, a well-known vamp of the day. Mr. Hagen saw a great deal of Valentino at the studio and was impressed by his friendly manner. “He was very nice to everyone and very much the gentleman. He spoke with a slight Italian accent which women found charming” Mr. Hagen explained. Throughout the four months it took to film “Cobra”. Hagen remembers, Valentino followed a strict program of exercise. “Valentino had a very trim athletic physique which he maintained through a vigorous exercise regimen. He encouraged all of us at the studio to exercise to keep fit. He was an excellent dancer and horseman as well. At the age of 30, Valentino appeared to be in the best of health. Following completion of “Cobra” Valentino was to star in “The Hooded Falcon” for Ritz Carlton a film written by his controversial wife Natacha Rambova. “We obtain a vicious wild falcon for the movie and had to hire a bird trainer to care for it. The studio spent approximately $50,000 in preparation for production”. Because of the constant demands and interference on the part of Valentino’s wife who wanted control over every phase of production, and the projected $900,000 cost of the film, “The Hooded Falcon” never materialized. Following the cancellation of Valentino’s contract. It was Hagens responsibility to tie-up the loose ends of the production giving the studio staff its final paychecks, taking inventory of the wardrobe, and returning all props, including the wild falcon. “Cobra” was Valentino’s last completed picture for the studio. He died suddenly in 1926. “It was sadly ironic that a man who was so devoted to physical fitness should die at such an early age. His life style was incredibly luxurious with rich food and drink every day. He crowded 70 years of living into a mere 36”. After the bankruptcy of Ritz Carlton, Hagen declined an offer from studio boss J.D. Williams to join him in England where he was starting a new production company, British National Pictures. However, Williams gave him letters of introduction to several motion picture executives. One letter led to Harry Warner, President of Warner Bros. who offered him a job that was to last 32 years. In the same year, Hagen met his first wife Irene Hussey whom he married in 1927. Hagen’s rise in the motion picture industry was a far cry from his humble beginnings when his first job in 1928 was in bookkeeping for First National Pictures, which distributed silent films. There he became associated with one of the founders at First National and later Ritz Carlton. When asked to assess the changes in movies over the years Hagen said “I miss the glamour of the old films they had star value. I’m nostalgic for the movies of Rudolph Valentino, James Cagney, Barrymore etc. They lack the important ingredient and that is star quality.
Monthly Archives: March 2017
Rudolph Valentino’s famous horse that he rode in his movie “The Sheik” was picked as Dorothy Dwan’s mount in the Los Angeles Horse Show parade. Miss Dwan is an expert horsewoman having been leading lady with Tom Mix, the cowboy star for two years.
Vilma Banky whose torrid love scenes with Rudolph Valentino scorched the silent screen said Saturday she was content to sit back and watch the Hollywood parade go by. The woman whose passionate embraces with Valentino in “The Eagle” and “Son of the Sheik” were the envy of millions of American women lives comfortably in her furnished Beverly Hills Mansion with her husband, former silent screen actor Rod La Rocque. They have been married for 25 years. But the movie goers of the golden age will never forget La Banky who was brought to America by Sam Goldwyn in 1925. Vilma 51 sat in her cozy living room trim and lovely in a dark dress trimmed in a white Peter-Pan collar and cuffs. She declared she has no regrets for the glorious past, but she had that faraway look when she talked of Valentino. She recalled her love scenes with Valentino in “The Son of the Sheik” saying “they say our love scenes made it one of the great romantic epics. Who can gainsay that my handsome leading man was very colorful. He was colorful in fact, that I believe he would have held his own even in talking pictures”. The Hungarian actress could not speak a word of English when she was performing the sizzling scenes with Valentino. We had to have an interpreter she laughed adding I’ve had my fling. Some people are stage-struck their entire lives. But I happen to be one of those people who knew when to quit. Although her last film was made more than 20 years ago, the former actress toured the U.S. in Anita Loos play “Cherries Are Ripe”, during the 1929-1930 season. Her leading man was husband Rod La Rocque. “I had never been in a play before” but after this one I had enough of the theatre. The one week stands were too much for me. Photography is really my great passion Rod admitted “Next to Vilma of course”. Vilma won lasting glory through her screen performances but she made a total of 10 films and towards the last was making only two pictures a year. Her first film was with Ronald Coleman in “The Dark Angel”. It was after this she was chosen by “The Sheik” to play opposite him in “The Eagle”. She was co-starring with Coleman again in “The Winning of Barbara Worth”. The last film she made was “They knew what they wanted” with Edward G. Robinson. It was produced in the late 1920’s and it was made both in English and German. The foreign film market was much better then Vilma pointed out. After jilting a well-publicized Hungarian nobleman, who had pursued her to this country, the famous glamour girl of the 20’s married Rod La Rocque and with the arrival of the talkies retired to housewifely duties. Although not a slender wisp of a girl whom thousands remember and revere, Vilma Banky is still a very attractive woman with dark blonde hair, a good figure and a quiet assured manner. She plays a championship golf game and has won many prizes. “She is so good” said hubby Rod, that I don’t dare play with her anymore.
A woman is fundamentally the same, whether she is a movie star or a Park Ave society bud the happiest moment in her life is when her hair turns out just right. But that does not mean that women have a corner in the personal vanity market. NO woman in the world could be more fussy about their hair than a male movie star. These are the deductions of an expert, Ferdinand Joseph Graf, for three years, the official hairdresser to moviedom who is now at Arnold Constables. Mr. Grafs first job with Famous Players was to prepare the wigs for Valentino in “Monsieru Beaucaire”. Natacha Rambova the stars wife, brought him out to the studio from the 5th Ave beauty parlor she patronized for that purpose. He liked the work so well and the stars apparently liked him so he well became the official hairdresser at the studio for three years.
Rudolph Valentino was a stylish man about town who enjoyed his movie star success and living the American dream. It is well documented he enjoyed the finer things in life that his hard-earned salary could buy. The newspapers would write articles dedicated to Rudolph Valentino about how immaculately well-dressed he was. Rudy would often travel to Europe to purchase antiques, fine art and clothes. One of his favorite destinations was London specifically to buy specifically tailored suits and his go to store for most of his suits was J. Dege & Sons, LTD, London. This company is world famous for its military tailoring and every suit is made by hand. Founded in 1865, Arthur Dege initially operated a tailoring business at 13 Conduit Street, known as J. Dege & Sons. The original owners Arthur Dege and William Skinner met at merchant Taylor’s school in 1880. Before setting up shop together at the turn of 20th Century as Dege & Skinner. In 1912, tragedy struck when William Skinner died in a riding accident. Jacob Dege who was the son of Arthur Dege was forced to resign because of anti-german sentiment from WWI. Tim Skinner who was the son of William Skinner was placed in charge of the company. Last year, Bonhams, New York held an auction called Lights, Camera, Auction. One of Rudolph Valentino’s suits a cream wool made at the companies location at 13 Conduit Street bought during his honeymoon in 1923 was sold at the auction for $20,000. J.Dege still exists today as one of the premier tailors on Savile Row, London.
The only reason we did not arise last night at the Quimby Theater where “Monsieur Beaucaire” starring Rudolph Valentino, was having its initial showing, and sing “Hail the Conquering Hero Comes” was because from the very first fade-in we were spellbound by the sheer grandeur of the production. Costumes, settings and locations are the acme of lavishness. It is undoubtedly one of the costliest pictures ever made and well worth it. Given an opportunity to display his real dramatic ability, Valentino presents a most vivid impressionable performance. His magnetic personality his fire and energy in his love scenes place him conspicuously in a rank by himself. The story by Booth Tarkington, from which Forrest Halsey made the screen adaptation, is known to most people but it has never been so well told or so grippingly portrayed as in this picture. An admirably selected supporting case interprets the various roles with amazing success.
Rudolph Valentino and his wife will appear in Dallas on 24 March. They with the ten-piece Coleman’s Band from the Montmarte, New York City, are touring the country, traveling on the “Mayflower” the private car of Ex-President Wilson. Since Valentino is prohibited from appearing in any theatre, he is following his old vocation, that of dancing and as a dancer he will appear at Gardner Park Auditorium in a very unique program. The band will play one hour for the general public to dance, followed by a dancing contest. Mr. Valentino presenting the prize to the winner. After this Rudolph will give his famous dance of “The Four Horsemen” followed with the Argentinian Tango with Mrs. Valentino as his partner.
Rudolph Valentino’s future has been a matter of furious debate. It has been a question as to whether he should continue to be a sheik and a lady-killer, or whether he should abruptly abandon the whole he-vamp idea and undertake an entirely different line of stories. That was really the question between the two stories that were debated. Had he gone through the plan to make “The Bronze Collar” he would have been seen with a dirty face, but an honest soul. After much mental travail, this project was abandoned. “The Black Eagle” which he is making now, will show him once again as a squire of dames.
He was nice enough to the people he knew and liked, but when he didn’t like someone watch out. For example, one of those he didn’t like was noted press agent, Harry Reichenbach a dynamic man who was doing some special publicity work on Valentino. Once the actor was making up for a scene. As usual, his valet, Chris, knelt before him with the makeup kit open. Reichenbach bustled up, placed his hand on Valentino’s shoulder and started talking. “Screen me in”, Valentino ordered to Chris. Reichenbach watched open-mouthed as the valet placed a screen around the disdainful Valentino. “He wasn’t a woman chaser” said Dev Jennings who photographed Valentino in “The Cobra”. And is still a cameraman at Paramount. “When I knew him he was very much in love with his wife Natacha Rambova and was very jealous of her. “Rudy lived very quietly and did not get involved with the wild Hollywood crowd. He would have just a few friends up to his home in the Hollywood Hills. He seldom went to big parties. “He had a great love of Italian cooking and loved garlic. He used to have Italian food in his dressing room at lunch time. That was hard on his leading ladies, and Nita Naldi said she was going to chew garlic for revenge”. “Rudy’s hobbies were riding, fencing, and boxing. Another Valentino hobby was hunting, and he often went on mountain trips with fellow star Stuart Holmes. Holmes now a movie bit player, declares that “whatever he did, he did with all his heart”. He added that Valentino had a passion for foreign cars, but was a conservative spender. “He was always sincere in his work” Holmes said. He remembered once when Valentino wanted to wear a grey derby in a movie scene, but the director said no. the star held up the picture until he got his way. Concerning Valentino’s romantic abilities, Holmes commented, “I never saw him break his neck over any woman”. But the legend of Valentino the lover still prevails after 25 years and will no doubt grow in the next 25.
Rudolph Valentino is leading quite a strenuous life these days. He arrives at Paramount Long Island Studio’s at 7 o’clock each day so that he can get in two hours of practice before the start of camera work. He is receiving instruction from Professor Martinez Castello of the NY Athletic Club, as his role in “Monsieur Beaucaire” requires that he become the best swordsman in all of France.