Mary Grant – Katherine MacDonald
Prince Vanno Dell Robbia – Norm Kerry
Lord Dauntry – Edwin Stevens
Lady Dauntry – Virginia Ainsworth
Prince Angelo Della Robbia – Rudolphe Valentino
Dodo Wardropp – Alice Wilson
James Hanaford – Howard Gaye
Beginners luck favors Mary Grant, the sweet unsophisticated little novice from a convent, the first time playing a roulette wheel at Monte Carlo. And this luck stayed with her and made a fortune, it did not hurt her in the eyes of Prince Vanno, however, it only served to single her out as the victim of a couple of human parasites. That game marked in the beginning of some tragic and romantic experiences in the career of Mary. Passions Playground was adapted from “The Guests of Hercules” a well-known book on Monte Carlo by C.N. and A.M. Williamson. Katherine MacDonald has never played a more versatile role than does Mary Grant. The stage settings and scenery are also worth of mention in this late picture of Katherine MacDonald’s. The roulette wheels and halls of Conge Carlo as shown in the picture are a replica of the original ones. The gowns worn by beautiful women remind one of costly brilliants in platinum. On the whole, “Passions Playground” is an exquisite production and shows careful direction and study.
Russ Columbo was born Ruggiero Eugenio di Rodolfo Colombo on 14 Jan 1908, in Camden, N.J., the 12th and final child of Italian immigrants Nicola and Giulia Perseri Colombo. Rudolph Valentino was born Rodolfo Pietro Filiberto Raffaello Guglielmi on 06 May 1895 in Castellaneta, Italy, the middle child to Italian and French parents Giovanni and Marie Berthe Guglielmi. Their life’s journey took them to Los Angeles where both found their way into motion pictures and instant fame. Russ Columbo was “discovered” by Silent Film actress Pola Negri who was once romantically involved with Rudolph Valentino. Russ Columbo was grateful for the employment opportunity that Pola provided. He composed many love songs to her and sang them over the air-waves of the radio world yet romance was not on the cards for them.
In 1926, Marion Davies had a conversation with Pola about romance. Marion Davies told Pola “there is no point in living like a nun. Come to my costume party dressed to represent the character you have most enjoyed portraying on the screen”. Pola Negri attended dressed in a Czarina costume from her movie “Forbidden Paradise”. The costume fitted perfectly and was all white and gold she looked like a queen. Rudolph Valentino disappointed in love attended the same party dressed in a matador costume from his movie “Blood and Sand”. Marion Davies costume party was a major success filled with the most famous movies stars of the day. The hostess was talking with a group of guests near the entrance to her home when she introduced her friend Pola to Rudolph Valentino. Pola recalls that exact moment “he was holding my hand and was taller than I imagined he would be. I felt as if my eyes were a camera focused on his life, and I remembered sharply all the things I read about him. That he was just separated from his wife Natacha Rambova. There was disillusion written all over his face. As if I saw him in a film now, he was motionless-stopped before me as suddenly as a heartbeat. I saw the hint of a dimple in his chin, his full sensitive lips partly opened. But his eyes held me they were wide set and so dark I could not see his pupils. My eyes met his and I thought you can hold me forever if you try. We danced a tango together and I was in his arms. I closed my eyes and we fell into the mad contagious rhythm. As if we had danced together always. We never missed a beat. The other couples on the floor stopped and watched us. The night seemed magical and I felt as though I was falling in love with him. The music stopped and without looking up again, without speaking I turned on my heel, and walked out of the ballroom to my waiting car and left the party. While walking up to my front door suddenly out of the shadows a man appeared and said why run away from something you know we both have tried to find all our lives. Before I could answer, I was in his arms”. There were rumors of an engagement, but it’s believed that Rudolph was looking for companionship and Pola was looking for publicity. On 23 Aug 1926, Russ Columbo was on the same movie set as Pola Negri. He was playing Dvorak’s Humoresque as background music and overheard the sad news, Rudolph Valentino just died so he stopped playing. Pola noticed there was no music and Russ Colombo was wearing a sad expression on his face. She asked what was going on and why did you quit playing? He told her the news and she fainted. Russ Columbo was asked about whether she fainted for real or publicity. Columbo said it was not faked but she truly did appear traumatic and was inconsolable over her loss. Months after his death, it was reported Pola Negri chose a tiger eye ring from Rudolph Valentino’s personal effects. According to Internet sources, Pola became deathly sick and it was said the ring was cursed. Supposedly, she gave this ring to Russ Columbo saying, “from one Valentino to another Valentino”. It is said, that the ring caused the untimely death of Russ Columbo from an accidental shooting.
Gloria Swanson is living in Falcon Lair, the old Rudolph Valentino luxurious mansion while she forgets movies and takes up television. Miss Swanson was imported again to Hollywood, but this time to narrate and star in a Crown Theatre television film series for Bing Crosby Productions, and for her brief stay she rented the Valentino Home. In “Sunset Boulevard” the film that sparked her movie comeback, she played a one-time movie queen who lived in a fabulous home of the silent movie era. Thus, I drove up the hill to the Valentino mansion to see if real life was imitating the movies. the Italian-style Valentino house looks like a chateau from the bottom of the hill. But its actually a tidy nine-room house and there isn’t even a swimming pool for Bill Holden to float in, as in “Sunset Boulevard”. But there is an empty guest house, over the garage like in the movie. Miss Swanson wasn’t wearing dark glasses and a long cigarette holder, but a coat dress billowing with petticoats. “Yes, I’d love to do another beautiful picture, but it would just be compared to Sunset. “Three in Bedroom C” was and its like comparing soufflé to steak. I took “Sudden Fear” to Paramount and they turned it down, but well that’s past. “I’ll never do another play either and if its a failure its a waste of time and if its a success, your tied up for another year”. In her television movie, “My Last Duchess” she once again portrays a faded movie star. “This is the tenth actress I’ve played” she smiled. “I’m like the proverbial butler in the movies. I don’t know why people think of me as portraying actresses”. after the TV series, Miss Swanson will return to New York City to her dress business, which is branching into hats, hosiery, perfume and health bread. Also, she will write her autobiography from 1920-1930 “the rise and fall of a legend”. The Gloria Swanson the movie studios created is as amusing and startling to me as everyone else. “You know, the stories about my throwing cats over Pola Negri’s transom But those were exciting days, people had dreams and now the movies have been regimented. Nobody dreams anymore, said the lady of the Valentino house”. The last time, I visited this house, was to attend a séance by some fake mediums who put in a call to Valentino’s ghost and there was no answer. The next tenant, Miss Swanson said was heiress Doris Duke. Miss Duke promised parties not séances.
Dr. Crandon well known spiritualist says spirit messages from Houdini the magician and Valentino the actor are fakes. “A person must be dead four or five years before he can communicate with us. We learn this from spirits with whom we have been in touch”. Physicists wonder where those spirits are when they talk. It they are on one of the distant stars, light with travels 186,000 miles a second would take a million years to get here; and sound, as we know travels more slowly than light, 331 meters a second against 186.000 miles a second. If Houdini and Valentino, on some distant star, began talking loud enough for their voices to reach us, their words wouldn’t reach the earth in time to be heard by our descendants 500,000,000 years from now.
The story’s the thing. That’s an old saw, but it gains emphasis in the presentation of “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” on the screen. The book has sold beyond its 150th edition. Some reviewers say the spectacle follows the story of Ibanez’s novel with unfaltering fidelity. Others see variations from the book action. But all agree director Rex Ingram has created a film epic. This was done without the talent of one “star”. Rudolph Valentino little known before his advent in the picture, is the hero. He was educated in Italy to be a scientific farmer. Alice Terry was born in Vincennes, Indiana 19 years ago. She was employed as an extra when she visited a studio with a friend and says she had no ambition to be a movie actress. The sum of her screen experience before Ingram selected her for his spectacle was three months as a extra and two months as a juvenile lead and the leading role in one production of an indifferent quality. The picture also brings prominence is June Mathis who visualized the story and prepared the scenario. The novel has been widely read. The story is too complicated to be condensed in a few lines. Apocalypse means revelation and the four horsemen are war, famine, pestilence, and death. The story deals with the horrors of war and the reality is this happened in previous wars and wars yet to come.
Rudolph Valentino the much admired, in search of a beauty! Finally, the whole country will see the famous silent-film star and dancer accompanied by his charming wife who will also be his dance partner in what will be a memory that will never be forgotten. A combination dance tour and beauty contest on a grand scale sponsored by the Mineralava Beauty Clay Company. Rudolph Valentino will forsake active work in the motion picture studios and will be on this wonderful tour of cities across this country in search of a typical American Beauty, who may, if the fates are propitious, be the leading woman of his next super picture when he returns to the screen. The rise of this magnetic young screen star has been meteoric! It is doubtful whether any other individual of the screen has so captured the hears and imaginations of the American public. Two of the most notable productions ever made own no little of their vast popularity and appeal to Rudolph Valentino’s personality, to his skill in pantomime and his sympathetic interpretation of emotions both hectic and subdued. His brilliant work in “The Four Horsemen” made him at once the foremost screen figure and following this his wonderfully passionate interpretation of the central character in “The Sheik” won for him a popularity that has made him a household name. Wherever, he goes on his present tour the cities turn out to greet him as if he were a national hero. In each city, He and his wife will give a public exhibition of graceful dancing, and then, from a bevy of beauties previously selected by a special committee Mr. Valentino himself will present the trophy and a dance.