27 Aug 1926 – Valentino’s Old Nurse Recalls his reign of terror as a boy

Everybody is Rudolph Valentino’s friend now. But those with whom the correspondent talked admitted that everyone breathed a long sigh of relief when he left for Taranto at the age of 12. This passionate, willful, jealous boy was literally a terror to the whole village. His aged nurse Rosa, once she had overcome her diffidence at the sight of a stranger, told endless anecdotes revealing boyhood experiences and traits which went to make the character whom millions of women adored. His whole youth was a passionate revolt against the stern discipline which his father vainly tried to impose. He beat unmercifully those boys who teased him refused to acknowledge that he was “Italy’s greatest bandit”. When his father refused him pocket money he bought things on his father’s charge accounts and sold them for money with which to buy candy. He frequently filched candy, fruit and bright colored ribbons which he loved but which he would give away generously. He used to terrify small boys by pretending to drop them from the balcony of his home catching them the moment they fell. The youth adored his mother and Rosa and was fiercely jealous of them. He used to dare boys to say who was the most beautiful woman in Castellaneta and if they named any other than Rudolph’s mother he would beat them soundly. He almost drowns one boy in the village for that reason. Boy’s to whom Rosa gave candy were beaten almost continuously. The nurse still bears a scar under her chin from a heavy glass pitcher which he threw at her in a jealous rage. But he was religious. His priest said he came frequently came to confession. The priest, when questioned said he did not believe that Rudolph died in mortal sin on account of his divorce because he repented on his death bed and received the rites of the catholic church.

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