25 Sep 1988 – Ah Valentino How Many Hearts Of Our You Break

With his swarthy good looks and elegant bearing, Rudolph Valentino was the greatest matinee idol of our time. During the height of the Valentino craze, one glimpse of his melancholy gaze as his lithe figure came onto the big screen brought his female admirers to the brink of hysteria, many of them fainting right in their seats. Unaware until just hours before his death that his condition was truly serious, Valentino told his doctors “I’m looking forward to going fishing with you next month”. But soon afterward at 8 a.m. he fell into a coma and four hours later he was dead. News of his death flashed across the screens of local movie theaters, causing “general consternation and occasional hysteric outbursts of brief among some of the patrons” news papers reported. Fans telephoned news paper offices, film companies to verify the news. Many still couldn’t believe the news. Ugly rumors spread Valentino was poisoned by a jilted lover. Several days later, members of Chicago’s Italian American community formed the Rudolph Valentino Memorial Association. At a service held at the Trianon Ballroom, 62nd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago Civic Opera singer Kathryn Browne sang two of the actors favorite songs “Rock of Ages” and “Lead Kindly Light”. Only three years earlier Valentino during a personal performance danced in the very same ballroom before a large adoring crowd. The women came dressed to kill in long flowing gowns, low necked sleeveless outfits and lace dresses. The men wore their best wide-bottom trousers and patent leather dancing shoes. Amid sighs of “Ooooo Ruduuuuudolph” from smitten females, a gracious Valentino said: “I thank you. I am grateful for this reception of just an ordinary man”. The Valentino mystique lives on, though not with the same intensity that was fueled by his untimely death and led, among other things, to talk of putting a statue in his honor in Grant Park. In 1977 Rudolf Nureyev played the ill-fated star on the big screen in “Valentino” and the following year a section of Irving Boulevard in Hollywood was renamed Rudolph Valentino Street

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