“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, December 1922.
Theodore Kosloff. a graduate dancer from Petrograd and Moscow imperial ballet schools, formerly a member of Serge de Daighlleff’s famous Ballet Russq and latterly at the head of a miniature Ballet Kusse which came to Los Angelos last winter on the Orpheum circuit, has become so enamored of California and the movies that he has joined the local colony of artists. He is working in conjunction with Cecil de Mille at the Lasky studios at Holly Wood. With Vera Fredowa and lover Natacha Rambova,
“The first few days I was there I couldn’t stop the tears streaming from my eyes. It was not sadness, but some emotional impact from the past–a returning to a place once loved after too long a time.” — Natacha Rambova
Natacha Rambova was in Monaco to visit the American Embassy to file for an extension of her passport. It was during this time she was establishing residency in order to file for divorce from Rudolph Valentino
Leatherhead Court, Surrey was a British boarding school for upper class children. For 9 years, this was considered home, and the foundation of the woman Natacha would become.
Described in a 1865 traveler’s handbook, Leatherhead must at one time of been a place of considerably more importance that at present, since the Sheriff’s County Court was anciently held here, and was only removed to Guilford at he end of Henry III’s reign. Now a large village of 4 streets, from the back of one of which extensive gardens slope downwards to the Mole, here no longer “sullen” and stealing onward toward the rich meadows of Stoke and Cobham. The river where Leatherhead Court students would often be found at art or nature appreciation lessons. This river is crossed by a bridge of 14 arches; close to which is “The Running Horse” a small inn, said to be the hostel in which Elynour Rummyng as celebrated by Skelton, Henry VIII’s poet laureate, in verses more curious than edifying. The local church were many of the students, teachers and staff would partake of Sunday services stands upon high ground of the Mickelham Road, was granted to the priory of Leeds in Kent about the middle of the 14th century, from which time it principally dates. The piers of the nave may, however, be earlier. The stain glass window of the E. Window was collected at Rouen by the Rev.James Dallaway, victor of Leatherhead for many years; during which he published his History of West Sussex undertaken at the expense of the Duke of Norfolk. There are no monuments of interest in the church. The inscription on that of Robert Gardiner (d.1571(, in the S. aisle was written by Thomas Churchyard “court poet” to Queen Elizabeth I. Leatherhead is in the midst of much picturesque and varied scenery.
For 9 years, Winifred Shaughnessy attended Leatherhead Court, a select girls school and below is information about the school that was her home during her formative years.
LEATHERHEAD COURT, LEATHERHEAD SURREY.
A RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL FOR GIRLS.
PRINICIPAL – MISS TULLIS.
The school is situated one –and-three-quarter miles from Leatherhead Station, one-and-a-half from that of Cobham, and nearly twenty from London. The Front of the House faces a little west of south, is 110 feet in length, and contains the chief reception-rooms and several of the school bedrooms. The Central Hall stands behind the chief reception rooms, is 66 feet by 27, and is open to the roof. It is used as a school reading room, for musical evenings, etc. It is heated by radiators and an open fire, and lighted, like the entire house, by electricity. Eleven of the school bedrooms open from the gallery. A weekly pianoforte recital is given in the Central Hall and occasional School Concerts, and the furnishings include a Lipp concert grand pianoforte of the highest grade. Also a Welte-Steinway pianoforte. The West extends back 162 feet and contains two Girls’ Sitting Rooms, Workshop, and four classrooms, all with School bedrooms over. One of the Sitting Rooms is used as a School Library and contains over 1,000 books for reading and reference. Besides over 1,000 ordinary reading and reference books the Library and the Central Hall contain a large number standard works on architecture, sculpture, painting and music etc. Some hundreds of photographs and lantern slides are used to illustrate the same subjects. The eastern side extends 187 feet, and contains, in addition to ordinary house ccommodation, the schoolroom, 50 feet by 20, and the studio, specially built and facing north, 25 feet by 20. The corner room with the bay window is the dinning room.
The hours of the meals on ordinary days are:
French is always spoken at two of the tables, and German at a third.
On the half-holidays the hours are:
Milk and Bun 11.00
In warm summer weather the hour for tea on ordinary days is altered to suit the changed school-hours, and, whenever possible, the meal is taken to the garden. The Schoolroom, 50 feet by 20, is used for drill and dancing lessons, class singing, lectures and assemblies. Also for weekly and occasional dances, lantern lectures, and entertainments. The end of the room has a fixed platform, which can be enlarged when necessary, fitted with head and foot lights, and a sheet for a very fine electric lantern is ready for use. The Studio is 25 feet by 20, and was specially planned for its purpose. It is lighted by a large window facing north. There four Classrooms, all well lighted, warmed, ventilated, and furnished with single desks, etc. The Workshop contains the benches, etc., needed for carving, metal work, and other handwork. The Bedrooms are divided by curtains, so that each girl has a private cubicle containing bed, washstand, etc. A few single bedrooms are also available. The Bungalow (a Sanatorium) faces south and has a lofty and pleasant invalid’s room with bathroom adjoining, a convalescent’s room and a veranda, as well as accommodation for a nurse and a maid. The chief courtyard is a quadrangle, and is used for drill and as an outdoor gymnasium when the weather is suitable. One of the rooms overlooking the courtyard is fitted as a school kitchen for cooking lessons. Lacrosse is played during the winter and spring terms, and tennis in the summer. During the summer term the lacrosse field is divided into seven full-sized tennis courts. Each girl who desires it can have a small garden.
This is the last house Natacha Rambova called home. In her later years, Natacha Rambova, was living in New Milford, CT with two Yorkies and her faithful associate Helen Ducey. When Natacha’s health started to fail, she agreed to move in with her cousin Ann Wollen and her mother Katherine Peterson. Both were her nearest living relatives and they took care of her and made legal decisions until the end. The address was 3805 Mayfair Drive, Pasadena, California. Built in 1950, this home was a modest single-family home, 1822 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. This home last sold for $313,000 in April 1995.
1920 Natacha Rambova L.A. Phone Directory
1921 Natacha Rambova L.A. Phone Directory
1944 Natacha Rambova Manhattan City Directory
1945 Natacha Rambova Manhattan City Directory
1953 Natacha Rambova Manhattan City Directory
In 1920, the 14th Census of the U.S. was conducted and it shows Natacha was living with Theodore Kostloff and Vera Fredova.
On May 30, 1923, film star Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926), in the midst of a personal appearance tour that took him to all parts of the country, arrives for his only known visit to Seattle. The actor gives a dance exhibition, thrilling local audiences with a glimpse of his famous Argentine tango, and lends his movie star persona to Children’s Orthopedic Hospital on behalf of their annual fundraising effort. Trouble in Paradise During his 1923 Seattle visit, Rudolph Valentino was in the midst of a dispute with his studio, Lasky-Paramount. Battles over power and control were being waged behind-the-scenes, but publicly the actor claimed to be protesting the cheap program films to which he had been assigned, as well as the practice of block booking. In an era when popular movie stars routinely appeared in three or four new film releases a year, Valentino resisted the studio’s demand that he work. (Block booking was an early distribution practice whereby a studio would tie the releases of major stars to less ambitious efforts. Exhibitors wishing to screen “marquee” pictures had to sign exclusive agreements that forced them to also show the studio’s third-rate potboilers. Exhibitors strongly protested this arrangement.) For failure to work, Lasky-Paramount eventually suspended Rudolph Valentino, and went as far as to obtain a court injunction preventing the actor from appearing onscreen until after his Paramount contract expired on February 7, 1924. The studio felt they had called Valentino’s bluff, since he and second wife, Natacha Rambova (formerly Winifred Kimball Shaughnessy) were heavily in debt. But the pair countered by mounting a personal appearance tour organized by George Ullman (later Valentino’s business manager), and sponsored by Minerlava, a beauty clay company. For 17 weeks, the couple gave dance exhibitions across the United States for a reported $7,000 per week, keeping Rudolph Valentino in the public eye and, based on their commercial pitches for Minerlava, providing the company with valuable exposure. The tour began in the spring of 1923 in Wichita, Kansas, where public schools closed on the day of his appearance. “The Sheik” Comes to Seattle Despite the excitement that Rudolph Valentino brought to almost every stop on his itinerary, the star’s arrival in Seattle was relatively low-key. The Valentinos were expected at 9:40 in the evening on May 30, 1923, traveling from Spokane in the star’s private rail car. From the train station, they were to be whisked to the Hippodrome at 5th Avenue and University Street, where Valentino was slated to help judge a combination dance contest/beauty pageant at 10:00 p.m. According to publicity for the event, the pageant served as a national search to help find the star’s next leading lady (a role which eventually went to veteran Paramount actress Bebe Daniels). Unfortunately, their train arrived much later than expected, and the Valentinos entered the Hippodrome well after the dancing competition. The actor then sat with other judges behind a curtain for the remainder of the beauty pageant, which concealed him from the audience, most of whom had come solely for the opportunity to see the motion picture star in person. When all was said and done, Rudolph Valentino personally selected Katherine Cuddy, a local stenographer, as the beauty contest winner, turning down the half-hearted challenge of Seattle Mayor and fellow judge Edwin J. Brown (1864-1941) on behalf of another contestant. It is hoped that Brown’s candidate did not know that the Mayor was championing her cause, for the next day it was widely reported that Valentino rejected her for having bad teeth. (Ironically, Brown — who was a prominent Seattle dentist as well as a doctor, lawyer, and politician — did not notice this defect.) The Valentinos followed the beauty judging with an electrifying demonstration of their famous Argentine tango, recreating the dance scene from The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Both were dressed for the part; as one account put it: “It is in Rodolph’s [sic] blood to wear black velvet pantaloons and stamp his black patent leather boots and click castanets. His manner was quite Argentine; his hair quite brilliantine” (Dean). Natasha Rambova was also clad in black velvet, offset with a red Carmen-like shawl. “[She] is very brave to put on a ten-dollar pair of black silk stockings so close to her partner’s three-inch silver spurs,” noted Times reporter Dora Dean. The Private Valentino Dean managed to sneak backstage after the exhibition and take a spot in Rudolph Valentino’s dressing room, where she found the actor quite blunt about all the attention his appearances had been garnering. The moment he arrived at the Hippodrome, for instance, a large crowd of girls — “starving for romance,” the actor noted with some disdain — surged toward the stage. Adoration of this sort wore on Valentino, for it overshadowed his attempts to be taken seriously as a performer. “`From persons who saw the Four Horsemen I have received intelligent letters of appreciation,’ [Valentino] said. `I like them better
than the adoring notes from little girls who want me for their sheik.’ “`But what are you going to do, when all those darling girls want to see you ride [in] the desert and gnash your teeth?’ he was asked. “`Ah, they should stay at home with their husbands,’ said the slick-haired actor” (Dean). Wanda Von Kettler, writing for the Star, also managed to get herself into Rudolph Valentino’s dressing room at the Hippodrome. It must have been a crowded place: Mayor Brown and Washington’s Lieutenant Governor William Jennings “Wee” Coyle (1888-1977) also fought for space amongst a crowd of reporters and fans. According to Kettler: “Beside Rodolph [sic] sat Mrs. Valentino, his tall and slender brown-eyed wife, in her Argentine dancing costume … “He surveyed his guests. Then told them that he wasn’t a `sheik.’ “`Of course,’ he declared, with a somewhat resigned laugh, `I’ve gotten considerable publicity because of the name. But I don’t know if it’s been the right kind of publicity. The very sentimental girls think I’m all right. They like me. But what about the intelligent women — and the men? Don’t they think I’m a mollycoddle? They do. When I go back in pictures, after the fight with the movie concern is over, I’m going to prove that I’m not the type they think I am …’ “Valentino plans to write a book. He confided so to some of us Wednesday night. “`It’s going to be a book on the tango,’ he declared. `I’m going to teach all America to dance that dance. Everybody seems to like it, so why not help them learn it.’ “‘Dancing,’ he added, `is the greatest stimulant of the day, and is more and more being recognized as such. Since the event of prohibition it has increased 50 per cent.’ “Valentino doesn’t mind’ the letters he receives from admiring ladies. “`I’m very glad to know,’ he explained Wednesday night, `that I’m being appreciated. I like to hear the opinion of the public, whether it’s for or against me. But I know the ladies aren’t `in love’ with me. They’re in love with an `ideal’ and they sometimes write to me as a result.’ “As for Mrs. Valentino – being a sheik’s wife doesn’t bother her at all. When asked about her stand on the matter, she laughed and replied, `I want him to be popular. The more popular he is, the better I like it’” (Kettler). The Pound Party Following the Hippodrome appearance, the Valentinos traveled northward for scheduled engagements in Vancouver, British Columbia. They returned to Seattle on June 1, 1923, for a visit to Children’s Orthopedic Hospital, where they were guests of honor at the institution’s Pound Party. An annual charity event, the benefit took its name directly from its open request: In lieu of donations, the Hospital accepted a pound of anything — food, clothing, etc. — which could be used to help those in need. The Valentinos were the hit of the function, which a spokesman later declared the most successful in the history of Children’s Orthopedic. In total, the event netted a record amount of food and clothing and almost $400 in donations, $10 of which came from the actor himself. Credit for the success was given solely to Rudolph Valentino’s appearance, which garnered much more public interest than past charity drives. It also attracted hundreds of fans to the front lawn of the Hospital, mostly young women hoping to catch a glimpse of the actor as he came and went from the gathering. Thankfully, the throng outside conducted itself in an orderly fashion and the party went off without a hitch. After partaking in an afternoon tea and reception, the Valentinos went from bed to bed throughout the Hospital, visiting nearly every child and showing a sincere concern for their well being. “A few of the sheik’s queries concerning child culture demonstrated a decided lack of knowledge on the subject but a willingness to learn,” the Post-Intelligencer got several nurses to admit afterward. “He was quite exercised over the lack of teeth in the mouth of one baby, age eight days”. After the Pound Party concluded, the Valentinos slipped quietly out of the city, making their way first to Tacoma, then back down the coast toward Hollywood. The last word on Rudolph Valentino’s 1923 Seattle appearance fell to the Star, which produced a column entitled “Letters from Chief Seattle” after the city’s Indian namesake: “Dear Rudy: “I have met many movie stars, and most of them were painfully conceited. I am glad to see that egotism plays but little part in your character. It is more or less evident that you have been grossly caricatured by envious persons. Come back to Seattle soon and stay longer. CHIEF SEATTLE” (“Letters to Chief Seattle”). From Man to Myth Some six weeks after his Seattle visit, the actor came to an agreement with Lasky-Paramount, which allowed him to return for an additional two films at $7,500 per week. More importantly, the agreement gave the Valentinos complete creative control over both projects. But the triumph was short-lived. After finishing his Lasky-Paramount contract, Rudolph Valentino jumped to United Artists, where studio executives were adamant that Natasha Rambova — who exercized tremendous influence on her husband’s career — not interfere with their pictures. Valentino agreed to this stipulation, but it led to conflict within the marriage and helped bring about its demise. Still, the United Artists period was a successful one for the actor professionally. He made two of his better films with the studio, The Eagle (1925) and The Son of the Sheik (1926), a semi-sequel to his 1921 monster hit.
Amonsgt the furor raised throughout southern California and the whole country by the marriage of Rudolph Valentino, dashing film»star, to Winifred Hudnut in Mexicali last Saturday, comes a new angle and once causing considerable comment —will Valentino establish a motion picture company in Mexico City’? It came to light yesterday that this was one of the main topic of conversation between Valentino and Mexican officials at the wedding dinner served at the home of Mayor Otto Moller in Mexicali. Today it is understood that speculation is rife among Mexican officials regarding a remark alleged to have been made by Valentino at the dinner to the effect that “there was nothing to hinder him from taking such a step.” Also, the rumor that Richard Hudnut, father of Winifred Hudnut Valentino, the bride, is on his way to Los Angeles seems to bear a special significance in the eyes of those familiar with the details in so much it might mean the first step toward capitalizing such a film company in Mexico. It is understood Valentino was acquainted with the natural scenic beauties of Mexico while here and with the great possibilities of natural facilities for outdoor settings and given some intimation that the Mexican government would welcome him with open arms and give him co-operation in every way toward establishing an industry that would mean much to Mexico. It is thought that if the company is formed Valentino will costar with his bride in motion pictures made especially for Mexico, protraying Mexican Spanish life and thus blazing a trail for an industry so far undeveloped to any extent in that country.
With a Mexican band blaring In the town plaza, Rudolph Valentino, movie star, and Natacha Rambova, were married at Mexicali, Mexico, last Saturday, according to unconfirmed reports reaching here today.