“I am glad Rudy died when he did; while the world still adored him. The death of his popularity would have been a thousand deaths to him. Rudy belonged to the age of romance. He brought it with him; it went with him.” — Natacha Rambova.
Pola Negri’s story from rags-to-riches-to rags story reads like an E True Hollywood Story. Pola was a wealthy woman when she arrived in America in the early 1920’s. In 1927, she married a fake prince named M’Divani who stole all her money and ended up dead broke like her fellow silent actress Mae Murray. In the 1930’s -1940’s would see Pola touring Vaudeville circuits to earn money to pay for her medical bills. She would return to Germany and continue making motion pictures there. After WWII Pola came back to America and did whatever work she could to continue to survive. In 1950, she turned down Billy Wilder’s invitation to play Norma Desmond in the movie Sunset Boulevard. Pola’s saving grace was a wealthy Texan named Margaret West who was from a prominent family in San Antonio, Texas. Both Margaret and Pola became friends in the early 1930’s. Margaret who was not hurting for money did what she could for her friend while both were living in California.
In 1959, both mutually decided to travel to Margarets hometown of San Antonio Texas. Upon their arrival they lived at the Menger Hotel, San Antonio, Texas. The Menger Hotel, is one of the state’s oldest and best-known hotels, was opened by William Menger on Alamo Square in San Antonio on January 31, 1859. They stayed there for 2 years while Margaret’s home in Olmos Park was under construction. Pola fell in love with the city. Eventually both friends traveled between her Rafter S ranch in Zavala County and her San Antonio home until her death in 1963. Margaret West left her estate to Pola who lived in the city till her death in 1987.
Richard Hudnut, entrepreneur and New York City businessman, often visited the Adirondacks with his family. In 1890, he discovered the Oregon valley in the Town of Johnsburg in Warren County, and by the turn of the century had purchased 1,200 acres of land there. Although it took him 10 years to acquire the estate it was the ultimate summer home. Foxlair was located near North Creek, NY in the Adirondack’s. The main house was 270 foot long and was three stories high with a huge double staircase and a veranda across the front. Foxlair was fashioned in a French Chateau style that was favored by Richard Hudnut and was furnished with European furniture. One of Richard Hudnuts trusted employees Thomas Thornloe was superintendent for the estate as well as over 40 servants on staff, a 9-hole golf course along the valley and a host of barns for carriages and animals. The estate also had a Japanese Teahouse and a nature house built near the river. There was also a large aviary to grace the porch. Every summer during the afternoons, dancing pigeons put on a show for the famous guests who came from around the world to enjoy the great outdoors and the legendary Hudnut hospitality. In 1922, his adopted daughter Natacha Rambova went to Foxlair in seclusion during her future husband’s ongoing legal battle over his movie contract with Famous Players-Lasky. This was a family residence until 1938. After Richard Hudnuts death the estate was endowed to the Police Athletic League of NYC as a summer camp for boys. In 1970’s, Foxlair was burned to the ground IAW the Adirondack Park Agencies Master Land Use and Development Plan which required all state land to be kept in a natural state. There are still remnants of the stone foundation to be found and overgrown stone stairways.