27 Aug 1926 – Readers Complain

Several readers have complained because the newspapers devoted more space to the death of Rudolph Valentino.  An editor is not a historian who seeks to put happenings into their proper perspective. If the great preoccupation of the public with Valentino is a thing to evaporate in a short time, that is more reason why it becomes news today.  It is well to remember also that the story of Valentino’s death is not concerned alone with the individual in question but with the reaction of the public to this event.  When thousands stand in the rain for hours seeking a chance to pass the dead man’s bier, that is news beyond any question.  It does not matter that many of the people in line were morbid curiosity seekers. The precise extend of morbidity is also a proper subject of journalistic concern. I rather think that some reports have been too severe in judging the motives of the crowd.  I saw long lines at a distance in the dripping rain, and it is my belief that if it had been possible for a reporter to investigate the hearts of all who waiting there he would have found in many who trudged the slow march through the doors a profound emotion. Valentino had become that priceless thing – a symbol. It was not so much a motion picture actor who lay dead as Pan of Apollo whom they are to bury from Campbell’s funeral parlor. He was to the thousands the romance which they never knew.  He was Prince Charming and came from the other side of the moon.  And if a symbol of romance in the lives of many millions fades, that is a not undignified matter of newspaper interest.  It is a long sleep to which Valentino has gone, and soon the thousands will have another symbol to take his place. It seems to me a little cruel to deny a dead actor his last full measure of press clippings.

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