Posts Tagged With: Pola Negri
In 1923, Pola Negri was her own best publicity and her own worst nightmare. There is no denying her talent and there is only so far she could go. The reality in the acting profession is one day your on top of the world and another time your not. Being dramatic should be on the screen and not in real life. The truth is she was never good with money. This would become her downfall.
No matter how talented a player is, it takes a little luck to bring big success to the door. Under favorable circumstances it is remarkable with what speed a hitherto obscure performer can be elevated to the top of the ladder. One of the amazing peculiarities of the flicker world is that it takes only one successful production to raise a camera actor or actress from the lowest rungs of the ladder to the brightest heights. And once on the top it takes a long series of poor vehicles to shake em’ off the perch. Look into the movie hall of records and what do we find? Valentino, best example of all, played in several pictures without getting a ripple of interest, then suddenly had the break of luck to get in “The Four Horsemen” and become a sensation overnight. Betty Compton, Pola Negri, Nita Naldi, May McAloy. Many of the players have never lived up to the promise they gave in the photoplay which put them over the top, but they continue to reap the benefit of their ten-strike, nevertheless, verify there are many players being buffeted about from studio to studio grasping eagerly at small parts, who have the potentialities of being as great favourites as those now at the top if they could only make the connection with that big part in the right production.
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.
Pola Negri, film star and her husband pseudo Prince Serge M’divani celebrated Christmas with a Yule fire at the Crillon Hotel the fire being kindled with papers in the divorce case which they both agreed to drop a few days ago. “We intended to burn them ceremonially at our chateau said pseudo Prince. “But we couldn’t wait” So we burned them at the hotel. They were an eyesore to us, and we are so happy. M’divani and Miss Negri left later for the chateau to spend the holidays. They exchanged Christmas presents. The pseudo prince received two racehorses which are to form the nucleus of a racing stable and Miss Negri will she received a diamond and emerald necklace sources said was paid for by her money.
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.
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.