Posts Tagged With: Death of Rudolph Valentino
“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.
A memorial to Rudolph Valentino was projected today with the application of five Chicagoans, who were personal friends of the late film star, for articles of incorporation for the Rudolph Valentino Memorial Association. Judge Borelli, Asst State Attorney Michael Romano, Ellidge Libonati, Stephen Malato, Michael Rosinia, local attorneys, are the incorporators. The professed object of the association is to build a memorial in Chicago, but sponsors said they might also join in a nation-wide plans for a tribute. Romano is now in New York where he plans to consult with the wishes of Valentinos brother on the memorial when the latter arrives from Italy.
Everybody is Rudolph Valentino’s friend now. But those with whom the correspondent talked admitted that everyone breathed a long sigh of relief when he left for Taranto at the age of 12. This passionate, willful, jealous boy was literally a terror to the whole village. His aged nurse Rosa, once she had overcome her diffidence at the sight of a stranger, told endless anecdotes revealing boyhood experiences and traits which went to make the character whom millions of women adored. His whole youth was a passionate revolt against the stern discipline which his father vainly tried to impose. He beat unmercifully those boys who teased him refused to acknowledge that he was “Italy’s greatest bandit”. When his father refused him pocket money he bought things on his father’s charge accounts and sold them for money with which to buy candy. He frequently filched candy, fruit and bright colored ribbons which he loved but which he would give away generously. He used to terrify small boys by pretending to drop them from the balcony of his home catching them the moment they fell. The youth adored his mother and Rosa and was fiercely jealous of them. He used to dare boys to say who was the most beautiful woman in Castellaneta and if they named any other than Rudolph’s mother he would beat them soundly. He almost drowns one boy in the village for that reason. Boy’s to whom Rosa gave candy were beaten almost continuously. The nurse still bears a scar under her chin from a heavy glass pitcher which he threw at her in a jealous rage. But he was religious. His priest said he came frequently came to confession. The priest, when questioned said he did not believe that Rudolph died in mortal sin on account of his divorce because he repented on his death bed and received the rites of the catholic church.
On 23 August every year, there is an annual memorial service held for Rudolph Valentino at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, California. This year marks the 91st anniversary of his passing and once again the Valentino Memorial Committee put together a respectful tribute to a silent film legend.
This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the release of his movie “A Society Sensation” starring Rudolph Valentino and Carmel Myers. Noted guest speakers were Ms. Brandee Cox, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and Marc Wannamaker, Hollywood historian. Also in attendance was the cast and director of an upcoming movie about the famous “Lady in Black” titled “Silent Life”. For the second year this was lived streamed via Facebook to a world-wide audience of fans of Rudolph Valentino.
With his swarthy good looks and elegant bearing, Rudolph Valentino was the greatest matinee idol of our time. During the height of the Valentino craze, one glimpse of his melancholy gaze as his lithe figure came onto the big screen brought his female admirers to the brink of hysteria, many of them fainting right in their seats. Unaware until just hours before his death that his condition was truly serious, Valentino told his doctors “I’m looking forward to going fishing with you next month”. But soon afterward at 8 a.m. he fell into a coma and four hours later he was dead. News of his death flashed across the screens of local movie theaters, causing “general consternation and occasional hysteric outbursts of brief among some of the patrons” news papers reported. Fans telephoned news paper offices, film companies to verify the news. Many still couldn’t believe the news. Ugly rumors spread Valentino was poisoned by a jilted lover. Several days later, members of Chicago’s Italian American community formed the Rudolph Valentino Memorial Association. At a service held at the Trianon Ballroom, 62nd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago Civic Opera singer Kathryn Browne sang two of the actors favorite songs “Rock of Ages” and “Lead Kindly Light”. Only three years earlier Valentino during a personal performance danced in the very same ballroom before a large adoring crowd. The women came dressed to kill in long flowing gowns, low necked sleeveless outfits and lace dresses. The men wore their best wide-bottom trousers and patent leather dancing shoes. Amid sighs of “Ooooo Ruduuuuudolph” from smitten females, a gracious Valentino said: “I thank you. I am grateful for this reception of just an ordinary man”. The Valentino mystique lives on, though not with the same intensity that was fueled by his untimely death and led, among other things, to talk of putting a statue in his honor in Grant Park. In 1977 Rudolf Nureyev played the ill-fated star on the big screen in “Valentino” and the following year a section of Irving Boulevard in Hollywood was renamed Rudolph Valentino Street