11 Oct 1961 – Valentino Cause Of Stir in Italy

Rodolfo Pietro Filiberto Raffaello Guglielmi was bom in the village of Castellanola in the deep south of Italy. When he was still a youngster, Rodolfo whose father was a veterinarian emigrated to the United States. The poor Italian immigrant grew up and became Rudolph Valentino, the handsome idol of the silent screen whose romantic style enraptured American womanhood. Despite his fame in the United States, Valentino was virtually an unknown in his homeland. Very few people remembered young Rodolfo Guglielmi or connected him with Rudolph Valentino for many years. And it was even a longer time before he became famous in Castellaneta mainly because there was no movie house in Valentino’s home town until 10 years after he died. Valentino is causing more of a stir in Italy now than he ever did when he was alive. The trouble started last year when the village of Castellaneta’ decided to pay tribute to its native son. The town fathers decided to erect a statue in Valentino’s honor with money that the critics said should have been used to clothe the village’s poverty-strick children. The dedication ceremonies took place Sept. 20. There was a banquet, receptions, speeches and. of course, the unveiling of a six-foot statue showing Valentino as “The Son of the Sheik.” On hand were government officials, movie personalities and a host of reporters and photographers. But the extravagance of the affair resulted in a storm of protest in the Italian press. Typical of what was published was an article by Rome’s “II Messaggero,” ! one of the most respected newspapers in the country. Totals Up Costs The newspaper said the poor village could have done without the monument. It totaled up the cost of the statue, the receptions, the banquets and noted that most of the hotels were taken over by the government to house the “personalities” who took part.  “This belated honoring of Rudolph Valentino represented a hard blow to the treasury of Castellaneta,” the newspaper said. “With the money for the banquet and the receptions, they could have bought shoes for the poorest children. With the money for the monument they could have built some public utility, which certainly would have been more useful than a monument. . .and particularly in a country where the people have enough to do to live, let alone find enough time to honor their saints.” This and similar articles apparently made an impression with the Italian government. A spokesman said today the monument was aimed at representing all tha emigrants who left Italy during hard times, rather than for Valentino himself. , “He was for the emigrants a symbol of success,” the government spokesman said. He also claimed that the expenditures for the statue and celebrations were “minimal ” and that the area was ‘ not as poor as the newspapers has led the public to believe.

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