Ralph Rogers, is a dark, florid man of 45 behind whose quiet, brown eyes are the memories of two decades ago when he led a more colorful life as body-guard, valet, chauffeur for the late Rudolph Valentino. He was the late film lover’s companion the night Valentino won 450,000 francs and broke the bank at Monte Carlo. He was with him in an automobile crash near Hollywood when those who rushed to the scene stole bits of the shattered Valentino car as souvenirs, forgetting the begrimed, bleeding victims of the crash. He was aboard ship with him when Benito Mussolini warned the late Rudy by wireless not to put foot on Italian soil with immediate induction in the army as an alternative. He spent three hectic years trying to save his boss from girls and women who besieged him for autographs, sometimes tearing at his clothes, even snipping hairs from his dog for mementos. One night while enroute from Europe to America aboard the Vaterland, later the Leviathan, women banged on the doors of once was the Kaisers Suite demanding the public appearance of Valentino who wanted only to be left alone to sleep. In some European Capitals the besieged Valentino had to employ the utmost diplomacy to shoo away an occasional princess, baroness, or countess. All this, and more besides are among the memories of Ralph Rogers, 110 Monmouth Street here when he is not engaged in the operation of his small Italian restaurant on Broad Street, Shrewsbury. His getting the job as Valentino’s man Friday was by accident. Rogers was employed in the main showrooms of the Isotta-Frachini Company, New York City. His boss was a chap named D’Annunzio son of the famous Italian poet and patriot. Valentino drove an Isotta and had dropped in wit the problem of getting a man to go to Europe with him to drive the car. D’Annunzio suggested Ralph Rogers. Rogers accepted but in the back of his mind he figured he might get the chance to visit his relatives in Sorento. “We toured Europe the days and nights were always exciting and interested. But Valentino was never interested too greatly in women perhaps they annoyed him too much. In Europe it was very bad the way they kept after him. During the years from 1923-1026 when I was with him, I know of only one woman Valentino seemed to care anything about and that was Pola Negri. In my humble opinion she was the only girl Valentino seemed to really care for. The night Valentino broke the bank at Monte Carlo I was beside him most of the evening. I say it was 450,000 francs he won it may have been 500,000 or 550.000. I can only remember that I had to carry the money out in a bag to the car and that the place closed down tight, turning all the guests away. It was very bad night for the old gambling house. Papers all over the world were full of the story the next day. “While we were in France, I mentioned to Valentino I had relatives in Sorrento. He told me to take his car and drive there and to spend as much time as I liked. He was a wonderfully democratic fellow, very generous and very understanding. He was what you might say a ‘swell guy’ all around”. When we arrived back in New York disembarking from the Vaterland Valentino told me he would like to keep me and asked would I be willing to be employed by him instead of going back to my old job. He said we got along so well he would not like to see me go. I decided I would remain with him. “Out around the Pacific coast when women couldn’t get close enough to Valentino in his car they would actually shinny up to the roof of the car and peer in at him. He had his troubles with the women. Ralph Rogers never saw Valentino when thougsands streamed into Campbell Funeral Parlor to view the late film idols body. “Just as in life” Rogers says, the crush of women was too great. I stood outside and looked. I saw those women lineup for blocks. I shook my head with the memory of a real fine fellow I would never see again. Up to a year ago, Ralph Rogers was still wearing pajamas Valentino had given him. He Loved fine pajamas said Ralph. He had them by the dozen and they were made of the finest materials, personally made for him to last a life time. They did for him, and lasted another 20 years for me. The last pair I abandoned just about a year ago.
Rudolph Valentino, Manuel Reachi and Pola Negri at a costume party.
Joe Hess, of the crew of the departing Folies Bergere Revue, revealed the other night the late Rudolph Valentino went right to the coast from Pittsburgh in 1917. He was playing in a John Cort Show “The Masked Model” at the Dugquesne when the producer decided to transfer the production immediately to San Francisco. The troupe was stranded there and Valentino caught the eye of an influential woman who was instrumental in placing him on the screen.
Thieves ransacked the home of Rudolph Valentino’s grandson and took paintings and other valuables police said. Losses and damage from the break-in over the long Memorial Day weekend were estimated at $100,000. The grandson, also named Rudolph Valentino, returned Tuesday to find that someone had smashed as rear window.
Rudolph Valentino’s horse died today in Rockleigh, New Jersey. An uncommon old horse was “Anna” who before she reached a ripe old 39 had played such stellar roles as a walk-on part in “Aida” at the Metropolitan Opera and hostess at a “horse party” while wearing a Lilly Dache hat. Anna lived out her last years in pasture at the Douglas Hertz farm.
Orlando Cortez was a contestant in a dancing contest held at Los Angeles a week or so ago. Charles Chaplain and Jesse Laskey were acting as judges in the contest, and now Mr. Cortez holds a 5 year contract as a member of the Paramount Stock Company. The young man is a good looking and graceful dancer as Rudolph Valentino.
Valentino rumors may come and go, but Rudy himself is the authority for the statement that a big company is now being organized to put a stock of toilet preparations on the market bearing his charmed name. This it seems, cannot be prohibited by the injunction preventing him from working. Rudy’s attorney is considering several offers from a phonograph concern, said company wanting the romantic Italian to do some records. Whether or not the injunction prevents this will remain seen. There is no truth to the report that Valentino and his wife Natacha Rambova are going to England to appear in one of the Charles Cochran revues at a salary of $3500 a week or any salary.
Jean Rhys was a novelist who became famous in her later years. However, it was interesting to note that she had a connection with Richard Hudnut and his second wife Winifred.
In 1890, Jean Rhys was born Ella Gwendolen Rees Williams on the island of Dominica to a Welsh father and white Creole mother. From an early age, Jean wrote stories however, it was when destitute and living in Paris she began writing again. It was also during this time she met literary giant Ford Madox Ford who kick-started her writing career. Ford Madox Ford was born Ford Madox Hueffer in Merton, Surrey Novelist, poet, literary critic, editor, one of the founding fathers of English Modernism. It was through him that she changed her name and his advice to use her tortured life experiences and transform them in to literary form. Also, I was through him that she met Richard Hudnut and his second wife Winifred. In Jul 1925, Jean Rhys took a train to Juan-Les-Pins to meet with Mrs. Hudnut who wanted her to ghost-write a book on Reincarnation and Furniture. However, this was not a subject she was an expert on let alone undertake. However, according to limited research on this subject Jean stayed at the Chateau for a couple of months. But it seems that Ford had received a letter from Jean stating that Mrs. Hudnut wanted her to write an additional book as well. This led to Ford writing Mrs. Hudnut angrily saying she was trying to exploit her and underpay Jean for her writing services. Needless to say Mr. and Mrs. Hudnut were angry about the whole situation and cabled Ford that Jean would be on a train back to Paris the next day. However, it seemed that a story was going around that about Jean and Mr. Hudnut. It seems Mr. Hudnut had been seen kissing Jean when he took her to the Casino at Monte Carlo ‘Nearly every Sunday’. This was also verified by the chauffeur who was watching them in the mirror. It seems that Winifred and Jean ‘reconciled their differences’ and took the train from Juan-Les-Pins to the Garc de Lyons where Ford met them both there. Winifred did not seem to be impressed when she met Ford she walked away with a porter and her luggage. Did Richard Hudnut fool around with Jean Rhys? There is really nothing to prove this story? There are no known news articles except what Jean has written. Given that Richard Hudnut was a wealthy man I imagine he paid afew people off to insure this little dalliance never seen daylight.
Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life, Vol II The After-War World. By Max Saunders.