1927 – Speaking of Divorce Interview with Miss Natacha Rambova

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This newsarticle interview featuring Natacha Rambova, dancer, designer, and former wife of the late Rudolph Valentino.  Miss Rambova feels her opinion on the subject of divorce can bring clarity and help women who read this article is reason for participating.  Miss Rambova starts the discussion by saying “I would hate to suggest anything that would make this supposed democracy less free and equal than it is already. Nevertheless, I would like to see marriage made difficult and expensive and divorce easy and cheap to obtain”.  A most beautiful lady says this a lady you all know and many of you have seen: a tall slender leady in a golden robe with great splashes of purple and a ruby turban bound closely about a pair of wondrous eyes and a brow like cream satin.  A lady of experience she is, and of deep learning, with a flair for the mysteries of the East and an unquestionable conviction that we can communicate with the so-called dead, who live in a world of their own, a world of spirit, yet amongst our very selves. Natacha Rambova alias Winifred Hudnut once the wife of the most loved of all move screen stars Rudolph Valentino. Rudy to her, a Rudy still loved and still adored and still a friend, invisible but articulate.  Miss Rambova typing manuscript at a table in a sun-flooded room high up above the Park, rises and comes forward looking like a being from a Tennyson poem or an Ibsen play, a sort of “Lady of the Sea” with slim cool hands and a quiet manner.  It is a good thing Chi-Chi also present with his chop bone and a few Pekingese sniffles to remind us we are in the everyday world.  For we are going to talk of a rather everyday thing divorce, why it is and what’s it all about.  We asked Natacha Rambova to go on and say some more.  How would she make marriage harder and divorce easier? Wouldn’t drastic laws tend to make people disregard them? Would that be better or worse than what we have now? Can human nature be “prohibited” by this statute or not? What of property and children? “It does seem”, she says from the corner of a deep black velvet sofa, “rather presumptuous to talk of legislating people into happy marriages, and my mind isn’t legal enough to work out a plan”. “But there should be some way to compel people to know more about each other before they marry. You’ll think me hopelessly unoriginal to advocate trial marriage. But if marriage were difficult to enter and could then only be contracted for a term of say, five years at a time, I believe men and women would try harder to remain attractive, kind and companionable so that they would be wanted for another five-year term.  As it is too many people, once given the marital life sentence, cease making an effort to love and be loved.  He’s taken me says the wife now let him work for me and make me happy. While the husband says I’ve married her and gave her a home now I can go my own way without having to pay attention to her all the time. There are many things about marriage besides its permanence says Miss Rambova. For instance, I don’t think a girl and a man of different races or nationalities ought to marry, unless they know each other’s background thoroughly and sympathetically”.  Our mind flashed back to the Italian Rudy and his presumably Old World ideals of women, wives and marriage, and our glance traveled from his portrait in a silver frame on the piano to the beautiful living woman on the divan who legally freed herself from him less than a year before his death. Before we could frame the personal question, Miss Rambova went on “during courtship differences of opinion are diverting and rather ‘cute’. After marriage, they become tragic. They can never be smoothed over, because what has been implanted in the mind of youth, with centuries of heredity behind it, cannot be allowed.  Arguments only make it worse.  During courtship the arguments may end in laughter for your life is not actually affected by these differences of opinion. After marriage it is, and so the arguments end in tears and anger.  “Another reason marriage goes wrong is that man and wife are either too much together or not enough. There is no life-balance living closely in small homes, as we do these days, leads to boredom or outright disgust.  Being apart for long periods of time, as happens in the theatrical world and often when the wife is a business or professional woman gives each the bachelor habit and mutual interest dies.  “Possibly the worst of all marriage wreckers is interference from outsiders.  Husbands and wives are often not allowed to work out their lives in their own way.  Relatives won’t leave them alone.  Mothers, mothers-in-law and friends, relatives mixed in and cause hopeless situations. Sometimes the exigencies of public life rob a couple of happiness. There is no such thing as complete freedom of action. Everything we try to do is hampered more or less by what we owe others.  Because of these and a hundred other things that make one American marriage in four a failure, we certainly ought to make it easy to get divorced. When you’re through your through, that’s all and should have divorce for the asking and without having to give any reason at all”. We asked the lovely Natacha, what she’d do in case only one party to the marriage wanted divorce and he other wanted to go on loving and trotting the double harness. “Grant it, anyhow she said. It’s one of the chances you take when you marry, and you should be ready for it.  It’s all the more reason why everything from health certificate to a bank balance should be required before marriage, and then only a short-term contract be given on approval. To be renewed if mutually desired or cancelled, and one more chance given to make a permanent choice”  “Oh just one more chance given”? “Well the divorced wife of Rudolph Valentino spread both slender hands wide, with eyes to match said otherwise it would be just a series of on approvals a sort of legalized free love and that would certainly not be constructive”.  Miss Rambova doesn’t like the “Interlocutory decree” feature of divorce. She thinks once you’re through your through and a six month wait before a second marriage can take place leads to hardship and temptation”. But I couldn’t help but wonder why she would say that when she did the very thing with her former husband. Her and Rudolph Valentino married before the decree was up and there were charges of bigamy making them front page news. During the interview, Miss Rambova speaks of Rudolph Valentino with tenderness and understanding. One senses that proficient actor as he was, was in some ways quite a child and that the beautiful young woman with the magenta turban loved him with just a touch of the maternal. “No one, she says simply was ever more devoted to Rudy than I was and still am.  Which makes me add from deep, deep feeling of its truth that no marriage can be a true marriage without spiritual love, for other love vanishes, is often destroyed by persons and by circumstances.  But love that is of the spirit lives on”.  There you have it readers Miss Rambova’s opinion on divorce.

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