11 Nov 1945 – Suicide Attempt Bares Former Dancer Story of Secret Marriage to Valentino

From the shadow of death yesterday came a strange story of a 39 year old former Ziegfeld dancer she married Movie Sheik Rudolph Valentino a year before his death, bore him a daughter and lived in mystery for 20 years.  During that time, it was said she paid annual visits to his grave as the legendary “Lady in Black”.  The story unfolded yesterday as a result of an asserted suicide attemp by Marion Wilson, glittering Broadway before she came to Hollywood in the history-making 1920’s. It was told by Miss Wilson’s third cousin Perry Combs of Hollywood.  While Miss Wilson was in a Santa Monica Hospital suffering from the effects of an attempted overdose of sleeping pills Combs declared: “my cousin told me she and Valentino were married in 1925. She kept it a secret she feared news of the marriage might hurt Valentino as a romantic actor. “She became pregnanat and went abroad to have the baby a girl in either Italy or France. The baby was a girl, now about 19 or 20 years of age and has never been in the United States.  Valentino setup a trust fund for her and she grew up with his sister.  Combs said the daughter is now in London attempting permission to come to the United States to visit her mother.  Although denying miss Wilson known on the stage as Marion Benda, ever married Valentino George Ullman, the former matinees idol  manager and room mate at the time of his death in 1926, admitted Valentino and the stately beauty were friends. “Rudy dated her from time to time” said Ullman, “but I’m sure there was no marriage. As for her having a child by Rudy, there were 35 other women who advanced that claim after he died”. Ullman said Valentino and Miss Wilson were out dancing together the night he was stricken with the illness that proved fatal and she was with him when he was put to bed for the last time.  “I believe had Valentino married her Ullman said, “I occupying the position I did in his life would certainly have known of the event. He squired her about New York on a few occassions but their relationship was short and formal. Miss Wilson was married to Dr. Blake Watson in 1932, shortly after her divorce from Baron Von Boechlin a German.  Released from the hospital late yesterday, Miss Wilson moved to a waiting automobile in a wheel chair and driven to an undisclosed location in North Hollywood.  Although at first reluctant to discuss her claims to having been Valentino’s wife, she finally declared “You can go to New Jersey and find out whether I was married to Valentino or not”.  Apparently on the verge of collapse Miss Wilson refused to name the city in which such proof might be found. She did, however deny being the “woman in black”.  There was never a “woman in black” she wearily declares “that was just a publicity stunt put on by the studio”.  Combs, who found Miss Wilson unconscious late Friday, said that during the week she had taken 68 sleeping pills. Friday he added she took 10 more and became despondent intimating she might commit suicide.  Combs said he left Miss Wilson on an errand for her and when he returned found her lying on the floor and called police, six more capsules had disappeared from the bottle in his absence Combs said.  At the time of Valentino’s death, following production of his final movie “Son of the Shiek” Miss Wilson and her pseudo husband were planning for the future and were hoping he would retire in five years, Combs declared.  He said Miss Wilson and the actor were married in France. But what happened to her declaration of look in New Jersey? No response.  He said she adopted the stage name of Benda becase she once posed for the artist Wladyslav Benda creater of the famous Benda Mask. She and Valentino were introducted by Ben Ali Haken a Hollywood producer, Combs said.  A woman who asked her name not be revealed said Miss Wilson told her Valentino and her had two children. One was a girl 20 years living with Valentino’s sister in London and the Boy a 16 year old serving in the Italian Army.

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