Wherein the strenuous time Rudolph Valentino has had in getting himself married to Natacha Rambova had anhything to do with it or not, but anyway Rudi is slated for the hospital suffering from a nervous breakdown. All of the nurses at prestigious John Hopkins Hospital are aflutter over the ‘sheiks’ pending arrival. But he can cheer up on one point, Indiana authorities say he is legally married at last.
Posts Tagged With: Natacha Rambova
In the heat of discussion about Rudolph Valentino in which everyone who ever goes to the movies seems to be taking part what the man is really like is almost lost sight of in the maze of conjecture, misconception, and exaggeration spread about him. Here he is as he really is. Once upon a time, there was a young man who was not a perfect specimen of American manhood. He was not remarkably dauntless not brave. His appearance did not suggest shining virtue nor impeccable nobility. In spite of the fact that he lacked all the glorious qualities of a real movie hero, Rudolph Valentino went into the movies. The casting director whom he interviewed decided he wasn’t the sort of man who would appeal to an American girl. He did not seem fitted to jump off cliffs, rescue fair maidens, or register high-minded devotion in the close-ups. They admitted however, that he could dance and that he was a good type for what is recognized about the studios, and nowhere else as a “society villain” But they forgot to find out whether or not he could act. Sometimes big movie organizations are careless about such things. I am not, going to tell you about “How One Young Man Made Good” I don’t need to. You probably saw “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” But I am going to set forth my theory of his phenomenal rise to fame, the secret of his success. It is this? He does not look like your husband. He is not in the least like your brother. He does not resemble the man you mother thinks you should marry. He is not the nice boy who takes you to all the high school dances. And so women go to see him in motion pictures because he typifies romance. Out in Hollywood, the men who know him like him. The women who know him but they won’t tell. As for Valentino himself, he doesn’t talk about it. If you happen to be one of those irate fans who have been disgusted with the interviews in which his opinions on love and the ladies have been set forth at wearying length, please accept my word for it that such statements which he really made were wrung from him and that some of them were as new and strange to him when he saw them on the printed page. If he ever saw them as they were to you. Certainly, I found him shy on all such subjects; he honestly does not want to be considered a matinee idol. You cannot blame him, for where are the matinee idols of yesteryear? I have tried to talk to Valentino about love, women and matrimony. Every time, I broached the subjects he side-stepped them. But let us hasten on to the interview. I met Mr. Valentino on the Lasky lot. With me was the perfect Valentino fan when she saw him come up to us both she said “please introduce me by my maiden name and don’t say anything about my husband and baby”. Whereupon she removed her wedding ring, and slipped it into her handbag. There’s a little bit of bad in every good little girl. Mr. Valentino suggested luncheon and escorted us to his motor. “It needs cleaning” he explained “but it runs beautifully”. In half a minute we were a half mile away. When Mr. Valentino made his entrance into the restaurant every woman in sight gave a moan of joy and all the women tourists were oh so glad they had come to California. Mr. Valentino did not look to the left or the right but at the menu card. Our luncheon was the result of a promise. When I saw the preview of “The Four Horsemen” in New York, June Mathis who wrote the scenario came up to me, “Keep an eye on my Julio. I picked him myself and, if he isn’t one of the coming favorites I’ll eat that film”. After the picture, I saw June and congratulated her. So there I became the perfect fan. He found out the perfect fan loved to dance and so he talked about dancing and orchestras and about the charm of sitting in a pleasant restaurant with agreeable and well-behaved persons all about you. He hates vulgarity and vulgar dancing. Then he turned to me and said June Mathis discovered me and gave me a part when life was not so easy. And now, she will write all my pictures. She is a capable, humorous and generous woman. I am eternally grateful to her. No one realizes how much she had to do with the success of “The Four Horsemen” she was on the set every day. She suggested a hundred small touches. And now she will supervise “Blood and Sand”. I am immensely glad because it is the first picture in which I am in the starring role. And I know that I can trust Miss Mathis advice and good judgement. Mr. Valentino was quite sincere. He is not half-hearted about his praise or his blame. Sometimes when it comes to blaming actors, actresses or directors, he refuses to be politic. Who says that the Italian’s are a suave race? But his greatest virtue is his loyalty to his friends. With all the feminine world accepting him as a romantic figure, he refuses to accept his role; his good qualities are commonplace. I said that he evaded discussing love, marriage and women. Yet, I discovered indirectly what sort of woman he does like. During our conversation, he professed an admiration for only one type; he likes clever, sophisticated, amusing and capable women. He has no eyes for the beautiful and brainless. Although he probably won’t admit if he did. I think he rather likes em’ rather strong-minded. No power on earth can make him speak even tolerantly of his picture “The Sheik”. In vain, do you tell him the movie has made money, that brought him stardom, that it is one of the most popular pictures of the year. Mr. Valentino will simply reply the movie was a fatal error and hopes he will never appear in another picture like it. “What nonsense it was. I neither acted like an Englishman or an Oriental” I was obliged to play like an emotional Italian. It was all out of character. The Oriental is stolid and the Englishman prides himself on self-control. “When the picture came out, I received many letters and some were flattering. But the intelligent critics told me what they thought of my acting. They said that Ihat I had achieved a little success and that evidently I was content to take advantage of that success. Letters like that are not pleasant are they? I am not trying to please those who are easily pleased. I value the opinion of the intelligent critics. This maybe a blow to the Valentino fans, but he honestly dislikes silly letters. “Just now, I need honest criticism and good advice, I appreciate it. Again, Mr. Valentino seemed sincere. Success has made him sensitive and hypercritical of his own work. He is not vain but shrew and careful minded that he takes his popularity with large grains of salt. “Hollywood” said Valentino is a small town not physically but mentally”. A great deal has been said about the frivolous of the movie colony. All of us need honest recreation. We need to forget the studio when our work is finished. I like to dance and I like to go to restaurants with my friends. But I don’t like vulgarity in dancing and so-called wild times I have seen in the cafes in Los Angeles were rather childish and silly. Several years ago, New York had become a delightful and cosmopolitan city. Out here we have to still learn how to amuse ourselves. One cannot escape boredom merely by going out and spending allot of money. No reformer is needed to tell the better-class actors and actresses that they cannot enjoy themselves merely by going out and drinking too much. I am afraid, I have made Rudolph Valentino a serious young man. Most of the time he wears a mask, and he uses his charming manners as a sort of guard. He has no particular pose; he is a dignified and courteous gentleman and is witty in a sharp way. When he spoke of the conventional “happy ending” to movie stories the perfect Valentino fan hung on his words. “The happy ending” has come to be nothing but a rubber stamp. I think the public is tired of it. After all, only one love affair in a thousand ends happily. And an affair of that sort is too dull to be interesting. Romance doesn’t make men and women happy. Human beings are made happy by such things as success, food, a good home, pleasant friends. Romance is something that makes them more than just happy. A refutation of the Pollyanna philosophy. Love doesn’t make the world go round it makes it go sidewise, zigzag, up and down and backward.. In his attitude, toward his art, he reminds me of the adored Caruso. When Caruso made a sensational success in opera, the wise men said that he couldn’t stay a public favorite. Caruso remained a favorite until he died. Valentino and Caruso are much alike in their way of talking and speaking. Caruso was supposed to have a wicked voice whatever that means and Valentino is supposed to have wicked eyes. At heart, Valentino is the same as Caruso and one of the most interesting things about him is the violently contrasting opinions in the outbursts of feeling that his sensational success has caused. If you’ve been reading ‘What the Fans Think’ you know what I mean. I know of no one in pictures the mention of whose name will start so violent a discussion. Hazel Shelly told you, last month that he was vain, calculating, and upstage. She refused to meet him. Hazel is entitled to her opinion, but you missed the chance of your life. Years from now, you’re going to sit down and cry about it. Ethel Sands gave a good impression of him thoroughly honest and to my mind accurate. And now, having given my own appraisal, I wish to add the opinions of some of those who have worked for him. June Mathis “I have worked with Rudy a long time. I can assure you he is a nice boy. He has been the target of professional jealousy. He has kept his head and his temper. He is reasonable and not all temperamental. After finishing “Blood and Sand” Nita Naldi discussed Valentino. “When I came out here, I did not think he could act”. Now I apologize. He is a real actor and I suppose some of our love scenes will look pretty warm. The script called for them. Valentino was courteous and decent. Some actors and I have played with prominent ones like to spoil the scene by putting in little asides. Valentino does not. Said Lila Lee “Blood and Sand” was a real inspiration. Imagine Fred Niblo, Valentino, and June Mathis working on the same picture. Valentino sn’t a bit mean about wanting the star part. Mrs. Mathis “we are all fond of Rudy. I like an accomplished man. He speaks five languages and plays and sings beautifully. The perfect Valentino fan ended up the chorus “I would leave my husband for him but I am afraid I would annoy him.” Mr. Valentino is a wonderful relief he doesn’t flirt, he is quite sincere. By the time you read this you will have known for some weeks that Rudolph Valentino is married again. The lucky lady is Natacha Rambova alias Winifred Hudnut. Valentino’s opinions on his marriage are sound: “it will be the best thing in the world for me. I shall have a clever wife to advise and encourage me. I know that I shall be very happy we have the same friends and same tastes.” Both Natacha and Rudy will be the most charming couple in Hollywood. They have established their own intellectual circle, and they are far from the mad movie set. Is she jealous of his leading women? I don’t think so. She merely smiles as Valentino bows to his favorite heroine. It is easy for a woman to fall in love with her man, but it is hard for her to gain his respect and devotion and this Natacha Rambova alias Winifred Hudnut has done.
A cat may look at the Queen but a little chorus girl even though she may be one of Ziegfeld’s most glorified may not publicly make indiscreet remarks about a great movie star. This Marion Kay Benda, one of the follies beauties, discovered when, in an interview given immediately after the death of Rudolph Valentino she said “He was not engaged to marry Miss Negri, you’ll notice all the statements have come from her. He never denied any of them because he was too fine. He did think a great deal of her, but he had absolutely no intention of marrying her. I know. He often, in my presence, refused to speak to her on long distance telephone calls. “No one knew him as I did. He was the most wonderful person I have ever known. I can’t believe that he is dead. He was so fine, so wonderful, so sincere, and I know he liked me very much. He couldn’t stand “rounder’s” and his ideals were of the highest. In every sense of the word he was an artist.” A rumor was circulating at that time that Miss Benda and Valentino were secretly married a few weeks before, this the show girl denied. “Oh those things always are said” she complained. “People cannot understand being simply good friends. I’ve known Mr. Valentino for four weeks and I saw him a great deal. Often we hired a cab and drove through Central Park after the show and then there were early morning walks and talks.” It was in the company of Miss Benda that Valentino attended his last social evening. The two of them, accompanied by Buzz Warburton, jr. went to Texas Guinn’s Night Club on the evening preceding the star’s fatal operation. During Valentino’s illness there was a long procession of greater and lesser lights of the theatrical world calling at the hospital and leaving flowers, but all visitors were denied admittance to the sickroom. And it wasn’t of his companions in the night clubs and after-theater suppers that Rudolph spoke when he was strong enough to talk but of his friends in the movie world. Welcome enough, then, were the tempestuous Polish star’s long-distance telephone calls. The little chorus girl who believes that “no one knew him as I knew him” was evidently quite forgotten. Her change as a protégé of the famous sheik had been snatched from her, and the limelight of public interest shone on her only for a moment and then promptly turned in another direction. Stars in the movie world are the “clannish” on earth. They have their scraps and jealousies, rivalries and revenges in private life, just like other folks, but it is an unwritten law that those shall never be divulged for publication. One great consolation Miss Negri has, and that is that it was her image which floated across the mind of Valentino the last moment before he lost conscious contact with life. Dawn was just breaking in the sky when Dr. Meeker noticed that his patient was trying to say something. After a night of agony he was too weak to raise his voice above a whisper. The doctor placed his ear near the dying star’s lips and just managed to catch the words “Pola, Pola” if she does not come in time…tell her I think of her. Those were the last words Valentino uttered in English. From that time on, until he passed away at midday, delirium and coma alternated, and all the incoherent remarks which passed his lips were in the old mother tongue. This message was relayed by Dr. Meeker to Mary Pickford and from her to Norma Talmadge. The Polish actress received it in the Campbell undertaking rooms at the funeral of Valentino began. There was so much talk about whether Pola and Rudy were or were not engaged that finally the star herself denied it. “We were not formally betrothed,” she gave out the statement while enroute to Hollywood on the funeral train. “Rudy never believed in formal engagements neither do I”. “The reason the betrothal was never announced was that Rudy thought such an arrangement appeared too businesslike a proposition, and I agreed with him.” We frequently discussed our marriage plans for next April, and our closest friends knew of them. We thought our private lives belonged to us, and we did not want to make publicity of it. In a very clever composition contained in a book of poems in verse and prose which the late star published two years ago, he expressed a pessimistic viewpoint towards romance. Under the title “The Kaleidoscope of Love Synonyms and Antonyms,” he describes its birth, rise, fall, and disintegration. Is analysis runs as follows:
A-Adoration, Anticipation, Affinity, Arguments
B-Beauty, Bliss, Bitterness, Bondage
C-Caresses, Circumstances, Confidence, Charm
D-Desire, Delusion, Dreams, Divorce
E-Ecstasy, Engagement, Ego, End
F-Fascination, Forgetfulness, Flatter, Faith
G-Gossip, Gratitude, Gifts, Goodbye
H-Happiness, Honor, Heartache, Hell
I-Intuition, Irony, Idolatry, Integrity
J-Jealousy, Joy, Justice, June
K-Kisses, Keepsakes, Knowledge, Kismet
L-Lips, Loneliness, Logic, Longing
M-Marriage, Morality, Money, Man
N-No, Nearest, Novelty. Never
O-Opposition, Own, Offering, Opulence
P-Passion, Promise, Pride, Proposal
Q-Quality, Quest, Queries, Quarrels
R-Romance, Reveries, Realization, Remembrance
S-Sympathy, Sacrifice, Shame, Settlement
T-Thoughts, Truth, Temper, Tears
U-Unkindness, Understanding, Uncertainty, Unfaithfulness
V-Virtue, Vanity, Vows, Vengeance
W- Wisdom, Wishes, Wedlock, Woman
X-The unknown love
Y-Youth, Yearning, Yes, Yawn
Z=Zenith, Zest, Zeal, Zero
So he described in 26 versions the span between the alpha and the omega of the little game of love. In real life, Valentino was as much the great lover as he was on the screen, but he failed to domineer over the ladies he wooed and won without the air of the scenario writer to chasten their independence of spirit. Jean Acker, his first wife, went “on the road” in vaudeville very shortly after their marriage, and it was not until a few weeks before the star’s death that they were reconciled. Natacha Rambova, her successor, also insisted on putting her career first, and, in spite of many reported attempts to adjust matters, this marriage too went on the rocks. Had Valentino Married Pola, would their union have been any more permanent? At the time the exotic Natacha Rambova left her famous husband, ostensibly on a “vacation from matrimony” she was asked if a divorce were in the offering. “I don’t know,” she answered. “There will simply have to be some sort of adjustment. And frankly I haven’t the least idea how we can arrange matters so that we can live together without constant irritation cropping up. “My husband wants me to give up work and devote myself to the home. If I did that, what should I do with all my idle hours?” We have servants who are much more capable of running the house than I am. I have always worked all my life I have had the urge to create. I cannot give this up it is part of myself”. So Natacha Rambova sailed to Paris. At the finish of his picture Valentino came to New York. He as was his habit, refused to commit himself beyond giving more or less of a repetition of what his beautiful wife had said. He was seen a lot in the company of Mae Murray, who had just returned from Paris, where she had obtained a divorce from Bob Leonard, the Broadway matchmakers got busy, but both denied any romantic attachment. Miss Murray intimated that reconciliation with her former husband might be possible; Valentino was less frank, but those who looked wisely declared that the Valentino-Rambova frayed romance was on the verge of a renaissance. As things turned out, the little follies girl was quite correct in her statement that Rudy and Pola were not engaged. However, she spoke out of her turn and was set down.
Natacha Rambova declares that she is having spirit talks with her former husband, Rudolph Valentino. In the first place, she claims that he gave her his impressions of His own funeral, saying he disliked intensely the public’s lack of reverence. ‘It looked to much as though they were out to see a ‘show the screen star complained. Valentino also told her that he is quickly making -friends on the ‘other side.’ His first astral friendship, he said, was with.’ Caruso; whom he said he found a most likeable fellow. Life on the astral plane would appear to be very much like that of the world Valentino has left. In any event according to Natacha Rambova their demand for moving pictures for she claims Valentino gave her details of resuming his screen career in the spiritual world. Valentino still loves no other woman in his life added Natacha.
“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.
Three weeks before his death at 31, Rudolph Valentino took stock and observed. “Life is too fast for me. A man should control his life. My life is controlling me.” Rudolph Valentino life was viewed thusly: vain, lazy handsome, well-built, slender, good-tempered. He wanted to make good and he wanted to make good in the he-man, two-fisted, bronco busting, poker-playing, stock-juggling America. But they called him a “pink powderpuff” of a man. Rambova didn’t though. The great lover was Natacha Rambova’s her man all hers. She molded him the way she wanted him. She drummed into him her philosophies, her moods. She was one of the “controlling factors” in the short but reasonably happy life of Rudolph Valentino. Rambova was a far more interesting and colorful figure than the legendary Valentino. She possessed amazing talent and a tremendous mind. Above all else she was an artist, a ballerina, a painter, an actress, designer, writer. Her maxim was “self-expression through art is the only worthwhile thing in life”. A writer said “Natacha didn’t need suggestions only obedience. When she gave a decisive judgement, anyone who countered was always wrong because she was always right. This was the second wife of the sometimes simple often lonely Valentino “the cinematic symbol of primitive love”. They were married about two years and most probably in love the entire time. Valentino worked Natacha for her brains, her beauty and she respected his talent and achievements. Men were jealous of him and envious. He lived a life that could have been better lived if the choices he made were based on thought rather than emotion.
“Fame is like a giant X-Ray. Once you are exposed beneath it, the very beatings of your heart are shown to a gaping world” Natacha Rambova, Dec 1922
Design sketch by Natacha Rambova