Author Archives: 1920rudy

About 1920rudy

The world of silent films is a fascinating place to explore. There is one actor who stands out the most and that is Rudolph Valentino. The words in this blog are copyrighted by law.

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18 Mar 1991 – Death of Vilma Banky

Vilma Banky, a Hungarian-born actress who became a major Hollywood star in the 1920’s, is dead. Word of her death began appearing in scattered publications this fall, but it went largely unnoticed in the United States until Thursday. In response to a query from The Associated Press, her lawyer, Robert Vossler, said she died on March 18, 1991, in a nursing home in Los Angeles. She was about 90 years old, Mr. Vossler said. Miss Banky was ill at home for five years and for another five years at the St. John of God Convalescent Hospital, Mr. Vossler said. ‘She Was So Upset’ “During all that time, not a single soul came to visit her,” he said. “She was so upset that she wanted no notice and no service when she died. I followed her wishes.” In October, Classic Images, a newsletter for fans of old movies, mentioned that Miss Banky had died in a Los Angeles nursing home in 1991. In November, two London newspapers, The Daily Telegraph and The Independent, reported the death. The hospital listed Miss Banky’s birth date as Jan. 2, 1901, but reference books give dates ranging from 1898 to 1903. She appeared in Hungarian, Austrian and French films in the early 1920’s before Samuel Goldwyn discovered her while touring Europe in 1925. Goldwyn brought her to America and cast her opposite Ronald Colman in “The Dark Angel,” which became a smash hit. The New York Times review praised her acting and called her “so exquisite that one is not in the least surprised that she is never forgotten” by her co-star. She made five films with Colman, including “The Night of Love” and “The Winning of Barbara Worth,” which featured the young Gary Cooper in a major role. She went on to star opposite Rudolph Valentino in “The Eagle” and “The Son of the Sheik,” the last movies Valentino made before his death in 1926. Miss Banky was married to the actor Rod La Rocque for 42 years. Their 1927 wedding, produced by Goldwyn, was the most elaborate of the silent-film era. Cecil B. DeMille was best man and the ushers included Colman and Harold Lloyd. The couple, who were childless, later endowed an education foundation for children that is now worth more than $1 million. In 1928, Miss Banky participated in the first public demonstration of the way movies could be transmitted over telephone wires. Film of her arrival by train in Chicago was shown at a newsreel theater in New York nine hours later; the process was hailed as a technological breakthrough. When sound films took over Hollywood in 1929, Miss Banky appeared in “This Is Heaven,” cast as a Hungarian immigrant employed as a cook. But audiences had trouble understanding her accent, and the movie flopped. After making “The Rebel” in Germany in 1932, Miss Banky retired. Her husband’s career ended in the 1930’s, after which he became a real estate agent. He died in 1969.

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1 Nov 1931- Harriet Lee

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18 Feb 1932 Raid On Tomb of Valentino

Ghouls, it is suspected, have planned to steal the body of Rudolph Valentino for commercial reasons. Five men were recently discovered by a florist attempting to break into the crypt containing the embalmed boy of the famous silent film star.

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12 Aug 1923 – Valentino Sifts Ashes of his Dead Loves with Poetry

“To rake over the dead ashes of a burnt out love one must use the pen point of poetry” –Rudolph Valentino.

Behold the sensitive soul of a Sheik, self-revealed to a world of worshippers. Rudolph Valentino master lover of the silver screen, forcibly exiled from film land, declares he has found consolation in the Muse of Poetry.  A volume of poems and epigrams bearing his signature has just been published.  Flaming orange, symbolic of passions torch, contrasted with the black of disillusion, appropriately clothe the slender sheaf of verse in which the screen troubadour sings his first serenade to the public.  “Day Dreams” he modestly calls his offering. “Just dreams a bit of romance, a bit of sentimentalism, a bit of philosophy”.  They were written, he tells us during his enforced inactivity, “to forget the tediousness of worldly strife”.

“I am a slave, yet free as birds above, Sold into bondage by the tender kiss of love”

Sings Rudolph, the adored of a million maidens. Love indeed, is the stuff that makes up most of the Sheik’s dreams. Among all the love inspired stanzas that Valentino has penned in words as ardent as the glances and embraces which have won him his title as screenland’s champion lover, not a single offering is dedicated to his present wife.  The initials of Winifred Hudnut, step=daughter of the millionaire, and known to the stage as Natacha Rambova, are conspicuous by their absence.  But her are dedications galore to others, whose identity is veiled behind the non-committal initials: “M”, “B”, “O”, “MK”, “AT” “EB” “GS” and “J”. Still more mystifying is the dedication of the whole book “To J.C.N.G. my friends here and there”.  Trying to fit these initials to well-known personages of the screen and artistic world will be one of the favorite indoor sports of the season, guaranteed to start a lively discussion anywhere. Shakespeare has kept the world guessing over four centuries in regard to the identity of a certain dark lady of this celebrated sonnets. Now comes Rudolph with his dozen or more mysterious affinities to puzzle the public.  Who is the fortunate friend whose inspirations has led the Romeo of filmland to protest: “Possessing the jewels of the earth, Holding within my grasp the scepter of the universe, all these would but make me more the pauper.  Were, I beggared of your love”? Who is E.B.? who will be envied by damsels all over the country, when they read the plea of her tempestuous wooer: “O Love, when you leave me, do not say rather, beloved of my heart, we will meet at sunshine tomorrow,” A kingdom for a key to the secrets locked up behind those initials, Mr. Valentino! A thousand lovers rolled into one and you have the romance make-up of the inner Valentino as revealed by his verses.  Sometimes he naively declares:

“Till we kiss our lips, of the mate of our soul. We will never know love has reached its goal.” More often he is the sophisticated Don Juan, reflecting cynically: “I do not care for anything that comes easily, It never lasts I know, but I fell in love with you easily. But not lastingly I know”.   Then inconsistently enough, he turns to reproach someone else for being just as fickle.  But enough of the offerings laid so generously on the altar of love. They fulfill the promise of the Valentino who thrilled the nation as the on-screen lover of Alice Terry, Nazimova, Agnes Ayres, Nita Naldi, Patsy Miller, Gloria Swanson. A many sided personality emerges from the orange covers of “Day Dreams”.   Day dreaming Rudolph is the life-story of the actor-dancer-poet, with many a flash-back into the days of discouragement and disillusion of the first eight years, in America.  It is the struggle of the unknown Italian youth in a strange land that lives again in the verses between the pages of this book.  Many of the lyrics owe their inspiration to Nature.  Rudolph’s intimate knowledge of growing things comes from his early training as an agriculturist, and recalls the humble past of the future Sheik who left the fruitful farms of his native Italy to work in America as a landscape gardener.  Religion plays an important part in the nature of worship of Valentino, who sees God’s handiwork everywhere, and pays tribute to its observations. It’s a sad, sad, world to Rudolph Valentino despite all the popularity that has come to him in the past two years. The author of “Day Dreams” if his revelations are to be considered as bona fide, is a young man who takes himself and his art seriously. His verses are filled with melancholy. The idol of the world of movie fans doesn’t seem very much thrilled by his sudden attainment of the pinnacles of success.  Far from being satisfied with things as they are “Happiness you wait for us Just beyond, Just beyond. We know not where, nor how we shall find you. We only know you are waiting, waiting just beyond”.

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27 Jun 43 Who Really Wrote Day Dreams Book of Poetry

Mention of a book of verse called “Day Dreams” bearing the name of Rudolph
Valentino bearing the name of Rudolph Valentino, movie actor as author brought a footnote from Phillip Richard Davis who has also written a book or two of verse. He says: Some collectors seek this rare item because the verses attributed to Valentino were really written by Gordon Seagrove, former Chicago Tribune Reporter.  “Day Dreams{ was a press agents idea to augment the build-up of Valentino into a national heart throb. Also it was at that time he was having problems with the movie studios so this was extra money. Seagrove did the writing in a few days. Ask Vincent Starrett about Seagrove as Valentino’s ghost writer. He ought to remember; he was also approached for the job.  Seagrove was a first class minor poet in a gusty and humorous way. He was a frequent contributor to the Tribune Line typo column in the 1920’s.  In book form, however, his writings are only available in Valentino’s “Day Dreams” and in link book back numbers.
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25 Jul 1943 – A Bookman’s Holiday By Charles Collins

It was said, that Rudolph Valentino’s book of verses, “Day Dreams” was ghost writed by Gordon Seagrove, former Chicago Tribune reporter and thereafter an advertising stylist, it was slightly off the track. The truth in a nugget is that Mr. Seagrove nearly wrote “Day Dreams”. The inside story, in his own words, is better than the original.  “I didn’t write one line of ‘Day Dreams’ says the erstwhile skipper of the yacht Vanadis,” and if I did I would be glad to atone for it on the scaffold. But..when the great lover was becoming a biological urge I saw him in a dancing exhibition, I think in the Bismarck Gardens. When he ended his program countless frustrated mommas took off their wrist watches, rings, etc. and threw them on the stage.  That did something to me. How, I pondered, could Seagrove get some of those coconuts? So he hatched up a scheme for a deluxe volume of love poetry by Valentino, to be written and published by himself (Gordon Seagrove), and submitted to the Great Lover who said “Yes”. A serious accident in the Mackinac yacht race delayed the ambitious Seagrove, but after he had been patched up in the hospital ‘all bound with woolen string and wires” he began to write the poems. “It was Eddie Guest with allot of hot Italian background says Seagrove, “a whiff of the desert and a dash of ‘pale hands I loved beside the Shalimar”.  All in all, it was good, heart-mellowing stuff, calculated to knock the matrons not into one loop but three.  In due course, the verses were sent to Hollywood and approved.  “But here the dirty hand of romance smote me.  Valentino had met and fallen in love with Winifred Hudnut, also known as Natacha Rambova. This lady, who was a pallid kind of poet of the E.F. Cummings incoherent school, took one look at my meaty efforts and vetoed them forthwith.  She substituted her own stuff, which now appears in Day Dreams – a new love in versification, in my opinion..  Rudolph Valentino was also the alleged author of a volume of memoirs called “My Private Diary” issued by the Occult Publishing Company, Chicago in 1929. It’s ghost writer has not yet confessed but I can tell you Rudolph Valentino did not write this book but Natacha Rambova who should get the writers credit.

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14 Feb 1952 – Valentino’s Valentine

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14 February is the perfect day to learn Edna Stansbury has been chosen as one of Rudolph Valentino’s Valentines.  The modern day, version of the heart-throb of the Flapper Era, Anthony Dexter was this year’s judge for the 1952 Valentine Girl and her court.  Candidates for the honor numbered 700, representatives from Beta Sigma Phi Sororities throughout the United States and Canada. Dexter chose Mrs Pat Lawrence a member of the California Chapter at Glendate as Valentines Girl. Miss Stanbury, named one of the 56 Valentines, had her portrait published in the Torch of Beta Sigma Phi. She was also offered a job has a sorority organizer. the younger group of business women.  Had she been able to accept the work she would have toured the states and Canada form Nu Phi Mu Chapters.  Miss Stansbury was chosen by Theta Chapter of Greeley to represent her group but only for her beauty but sparkling personality and service to the sorority.

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1957

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24 Aug 1960 – Service Hails Memory of Screen Idol

A silent screen idol, Rudolph Valentino was eulogized at memorial services Tuesday as the man who “filled a need” for women who lost their loved ones in the first World War. About 50 persons, most of them middle-aged or elderly women, attended that memorial service that marked the 34th anniversary of Valentino’s death at the peak of his career. Former silent film star James Kirkwood, a life-long friend of Valentino, and Belle Martell, also of the silent screen era, both spoke in the solemn service at Valentino’s crypt at Hollywood Memorial Park.  Absent for the third straight  year was the “Lady in Black”, who formerly made an annual pilgrimage to the crypt.  Miss Martell insisted this is not just a bit of showmanship, not a carnival. Rudolph Valentino was a great artist with a great big spark of genius. Kirkwood quoted from Hamlets speech to Horatio “Thou has been as one, suffering all…” and recalled the “great qualities” of the silent screen star whose “Son of the Sheik” recently was shown in a new television series.

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10 Sep 1930 – Rudolph Valentino Converting films into talkies

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Sept 1923 – Lila Lee

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