Beulah Livingstone, an old friend of the late great Silent film star Rudolph Valentino who has just written a book about him, tells me about his love for Pola Negri. He liked to cook for her, and Miss Livingstone recalls the special dish Rudy would make for Pola, calling it humorously Eggs Pola-naise.
Ten eggs, 1 cup of fresh corn cut from cob, 1 onion, 1 can tomato soup, 1 green pepper, 1/2 clove garlic, and 1 tablespoon of butter. Heat butter, fry chopped onion, pepper and garlic until only slightly brown. Stir in tomato soup, add corn, and seasoning. Simmer for 1/2 hour. Remove from heat. Cool. Break eggs in bowl and beat only slightly. Combine with cooled sauce. Turn into buttered egg pan and scramble eggs until soft and smooth. Serve with large piece of Italian Bread. Serves 6.
Pola Negri and Rudolph Valentino. Yes, really darlings. Last time, it was Pola and Rod La Rocque, following the denied story of the alluring Pola’s engagement to William Haines. To be sure, Pola and Rudolph are not engaged; that is unconditionally. Perhaps not at all. But if glances tell any story in which Cupid has a hand, if preferences, if public appearances together mean anything, then truly Cupid is working on this line if it takes all winter.
This year and it is with pardonable pride that Movie Classic Magazine presents this exclusive scoop story upon the occasion of the commemoration of the 8th anniversary of Rudolph Valentino’s death. How can his memory be honored more fittingly than by the announcement that you may see him on the screen again? There has never been a autobiography of a motion picture personality before. Can it be that Rudy sensed his destiny as an immortal? Could he have felt that his admirers would remain faithful All these years? Did he recognize the demands of his public to see him after death and therefore provided an undying memorial? These are questions to which you and I will never know The answers. We can only guess. Amateur photography was one of Rudy’s hobbies. As a large number of star’s today are devotees of the amateur or 16mm camera, so did he experiment With standard-size moving pictures. In a particularly gay mood, it was his pleasure to send for a studio cameraman to film little impromptu plays that he enacted for his own guests amusements. This private film was later screen at other parties. In rummaging through some of Rudy’s effects his brother uncovered reels and reels of it. The reason this film was not discovered sooner that the cans containing it were thought to be merely discarded screen tests. It must be remembered that Alberto saw very little of Rudolph in the latter span of his life. The brothers were separated by half the world one in Italy the other in Hollywood. From time to time, there had been talk of a long-lost private Valentino film. Pola Negri once told me of it. Regretting its loss. Now it has been found. I have seen several reels in a projection room. Even in uncut un-chronological form, the film is tremendously impressive. Imagine if you can, a smiling, laughing Rudolph Valentino, a care-free vital fellow at play a tender lover. It is a far more revealing portrait of the actual person than was ever discovered. In a compromising situation by his wife and Rudy. His wife takes Alberto away by the ear and Rudy proceeds to spank Pola. There are many informal pictures posed in the swimming pool. Once Pola is seated astride a rubber sea horse waving at the camera, when Rudy suddenly dives to upset her for a ducking. Several other times there are evidences of his fondness for practical joking. With Natacha Rambova he is more sedate, the nearest approach to a playful mood being a romp with his dogs on the lawn of his Whitley Heights home. Jean Acker his first wife, appears only one time and never with Rudy. The identity of some of the other ladies who play with Rudy in this, his greatest film may never be known except to themselves. Others, of course, are well remembered actresses of the day Agnes Ayres, Nita Naldi, Alice Terry. The wedding of Mae Murray to fake prince David M’Divani consumes nearly a reel. The reception held at Valentino’s home is peopled with famous guests. Contrasting With such intimate scenes is the large amount of scenic footage taken with Rudy as the cameraman. His devotion to beauty and appreciation of it could have no more convincing proof than the pictures of his beloved Italy. He achieved startling and breath-taking pictures of imposing cathedrals and quaint little churches. He realized fully the art of the motion picture camera and made use of it with the masterful Hand of a true artist. The camera was an important part of his luggage when he made his last trip to his native land. He must have spent days traveling about, photographing things that caught his fancy Preserving bits of beauty in celloid that he might again enjoy them upon his return to America and work. There are several dozen views of the exquisite bay of Naples. Scenic Italy has been the subject of many Screen travelogues. But you have never seen it as Valentino photographed it the man was homesick and his nostalgia is evident by his almost reverent presentation of his beautiful homeland. Thousands of writers Have penned great epitaphs for Rudolph Valentino. Yet he unconsciously wrote a greater one for himself I loved beauty. Rudy also photographed the magnificent castle on the Hudnut estate. It is Believed that he took them after his separation from Natacha Rambova the girl he married under her screen name and continued to love until his death. Only once did Valentino take his camera with him to the studio and then solely for the purpose of filming his blooded Arabian horse in action. Is Alberto’s possession more than a reel of film taken at Rudy’s funeral in New York and Hollywood. Thousands of people can be seen lining the streets of both cities. Movie celebrities by the score came to bid a final farewell Charlie Chaplain, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks Sr, Harold Lloyd, The Talmadge’s Joseph Schenck and hosts of others attended the services It comprises an imposing climax for the screen’s first autobiography.
M/S of Rudolph Valentino’s embalmed body lying in state. M/S of procession of men (including Douglas Fairbanks) coming out of building, they are followed by pall bearers carrying Valentino’s coffin. M/S of woman in black veil getting into a car. She weeps melodramatically, a man and a woman support each of her arms as she walks. The woman is probably Pola Negri, ex-fiancee of Valentino. Several press photographers take pictures. Various high angled L/Ss of the funeral cortege driving through New York streets, crowds line the way. L/S of entrance to church, tilt down to show coffin being carried from hearse to entrance. M/S of Valentino dressed as Sheikh emerging through curtain, he talks to a woman sitting on cushions on foreground (Vilma Banky). C/U of Valentino.
A movement is being launched in Hollywood to erect a new memorial to Rudolph Valentino. It will take the form of a sarcophagus mausoleum in which Valentino is to be entombed. According to current plans, the building will cost around $40,000. The chap who imparted this information to me did not know whether a fund existed to erect the mausoleum or whether the money would be obtained by popular subscription. A difference of opinion arose regarding the latter course of procedure. It was my contention that some difficulties would be encountered unless large individual amounts were subscribed. After all, Valentino has been dead 5 years and these are times of stringent financial difficulties. “Forty thousand is a mere drop in the bucket”, my friend informed me. “Four hundred thousand could be raised in a short time if necessary”. Quite apparently you haven’t followed the legend of Valentino. Even in death he remains the screen’s most popular male star. The idolatry accorded Garbo is the only approach to the tremendous tradition of Valentino. “Pilgrimages to his grave rival those of history. Five years? What are five years? It will take a generation to dim his shining star and at least another generation to eclipse it even partially. If the people behind the memorial ask the public to subscribe, they can have the money almost over-night. “Do you know that there are nearly a score of Valentino Associations whose memberships are pledged to keep his crypt ever beautiful with flowers? Do you know that no less than ten people daily appear at the offices of the Hollywood Cemetery to inquire specifically where they might find the Valentino burial place? These folks are the new pilgrims and their number multiplied many times by the regulars. Five years and don’t talk to me about five years. Go talk to Pete at the mausoleum. He will give you a story of the Valentino’s tradition that will, if I am not mistaken amaze you. It seemed like good advice. I found that Pete was the diminutive of Roger Peterson, a big blond Scandinavian from Minnesota. He is the attendant at the Hollywood Cemetery mausoleum where Valentino is buried. In many respects Pete belies the conception of what a cemetery attendant should be. He is not a taciturn unsmiling individual but rather a loquacious, pleasant chap as jovial as he is big. Very frankly, Pete was a revelation to me. The major part of his duties have to do with inquiries concerning Valentino. It is therefore, an authority on the film star. Visitors, genuinely interested in Valentino and they number thousands find Pete a sympathetic confidant. Unfortunately, he also has to deal with hysterical, sometimes unbalanced people who make a Roman holiday of their visits to Valentino’s crypt. His handling of each semi-psychopathic cases would do credit to a physician. Pete has kept a diary since he has been on the job at Hollywood Cemetery. Like all diary-keepers, he has not made entries every day. There are long stretches of blank pages when the diary was forgotten in the press of other duties or pleasures. Not all the dates are accurate to the exact day. Pete was careless about dates. The document, nonetheless, presents an intensely vivid picture which I have taken but few liberties in transcribing. There are several points of Pete’s story to which I have added facts. The reporting of contacts with individuals, however, is entirely his own. The first date that concerns us is;
7 Sep 1926 – Rudolph Valentino was laid to rest in the mausoleum at Hollywood Cemetery today. Crowds estimated by the newspapers to number in excess of 20,000 lined the sidewalks as his funeral cortege passed from church to cemetery. Nearly 5000 people surrounded the church while last services were held. The scenes here must have duplicated the public demonstrations in NY where Valentino died on 23 August. His church services were attended by all the great of filmdom, but only his brother Alberto and Pola Negri came to the cemetery to witness the sealing of his crypt. Miss Negri later collapsed and had to be helped from the mausoleum to her car. The tremendous amount and great beauty of Valentino’s floral offerings defy description. The cards bear loving messages from Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin, Jack Dempsey, and Estelle Taylor, Bebe Daniels, Kathlyn Williams, Antonio Moreno, Buster Keaton, Reginald Denny, William Randolph Hearst, Marion Davies, James Rolph Jr, June Mathis, and others. Pola Negri’s blanket of flowers that read POLA, June Mathis had a wreath of roses on which was the name Julio. Julio was the name of the character in the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. It was in this role, written by June Mathis that Rudolph Valentino won undying fame. The crypt in which he now lies belonged to Miss Mathis. In the tier below lies her mother and step-father. The space next to Valentino lies Miss Mathis.
08 Sep 1926 – The public, denied admittance yesterday, are thronging in today to view Valentino’s burial place. Hundreds of people have passed down the corridors of the mausoleum to pay last respects to their screen idol. The crowd as an average had been well behaved, but a few hysterical women have prostrated themselves, crying aloud their love for “Rudy”. Such demonstrations are embarrassing to the cemetery authorities but it is difficult to know how to combat them.
09 Sep 1926 – More people and more demonstrations.
10 Sep 1926 – Still more people and a particularly violent fit of hysteria. It is a shame that sincere affection for a public figure such as Valentino must be besmirched by exhibitionists.
11 Sep 1926 – The souvenir hunters have been at work. They have torn buds and ribbons from the floral offerings until little remains of the magnificent wreaths. It will be well to keep constant watch for vandalism ghoulishness may be a better word.
Specific stories of certain of thousands of people who daily thronged the mausoleum are lacking in the early chapters of this account. Pete did not “take his pen in hand” to report contacts with individuals until a later date. Perhaps the more vastness of the multitudes who came to pay homage precluded “human interest” reporting. The daily total of thousands was reduced to hundreds as time wore on, but the hundreds remained faithful. Valentino Associations were formed in various sections of the country. The next item to beg inclusion here has to do with the auction sale of Valentino’s Estate. It began 14 Dec 1926, with the sale of some five thousand items of his personal possessions. These items ran from small trinkets to expensive pieces of furniture, paintings, and tapestry. The auctioneers valued his personal belongings at $25,000 they brought in $125,000. It was the trinkets and intrinsically valueless properties that sold for many times their worth. Single handkerchiefs brought bids of as much as $25.00. A pair of salt and pepper shakers were purchased by a man for $12.50. He was the manager of a hardware store that sold identical pepper and salt shakers for 75 cents. But the merchandise he sold so cheaply had not once belonged to Valentino. The auction sale of course, stimulated additional interest in Valentino’s burial place. The crowds that visited the mausoleum again increased, but in a few weeks they had returned to normal. The cemetery officials grew to expect hundred or more people daily. The number varied but little until the first anniversary of Valentino’s death. Then the crowds were swelled again. Joseph Scheneck, present of United Artists Studio was chairman of the first memorial committee. Rudolph Valentino had died at noon and exactly at noon, one year later, work ceased at all studios. The afternoon was devoted to memorial services at the Church of the Good Shepard, attended by everyone of consequence in Hollywood. That was 23 Aug 1927. A month later, came a weird occurrence.
30 Sep 1927 – A woman came to the mausoleum today with the wildest delusion yet. She claimed she was about to become a mother and Valentino was the father of her child. This thirteen months after his death. The woman asked for permission to have a cot placed before Rudy’s crypt where she might stay until her baby is born. She went up to the cemetery office, and somehow or the other they got rid of her.
10 Dec 1927 – Souvenir hunters are at work again. Noticed today they have been chipping away at the small statue on the pedestal in Valentino’s corridor. I don’t mind them taking flowers but why must they spoil a beautiful piece of statuary?
03 Feb 1928 – There is a whole hand gone from that statue now and a new other parts broken. I had better not catch anyone chipping it, but I can’t stay around all day. I have other work to do.
08 Mar 1928 – I heard a crash this morning. It was the marble statue. Someone must have knocked it down trying to chip off a souvenir. By the time I got there, not a soul was in sight, but the statue did not fall down by itself. I had put it away in the shed. It’s too bad, but I suppose I should be thankful that there is one less thing to watch.
01 Jun 1928 – The people you have to keep your eyes on are the ones that come in laughing and joking. I don’t believe this is the place for wise-cracking and I am beginning to be suspicious of those who do it. The ones who show proper respect for the dead are usually above suspicion. When they tiptoe quietly down the corridors, scarcely speaking above a whisper, I know they are all right. It’s the kidders that need watching. Probably one of them broke the marble statue.
03 Jun 1928 – I am sure I’m right about jokers. A fellow came in today and told me a joke. A few minutes later, I caught him trying to get away with a small potted plant. If people want souvenirs why don’t they ask me? I would be glad to let them have a flower when I know it means so much to them. Cut flowers have to be thrown away so soon anyway. There was a girl in yesterday who asked for a rose from Valentino’s crypt. She was from Chicago and was going back in a few days. She said her boss had visited the mausoleum last year and had brought back a rose. He gave a rose petal to every girl at the office the gift had been so greatly prized by the girls that this young lady had been made to promise she would attempt to get another rose. Of course, I have her several roses and a few beads from the wreaths a Valentino admirer had sent from the old country. When we found that people were destroying the wreaths Alberto Valentino gave them to me for safe keeping. He told me to give some of the beads to the folds that really loved Rodolph. There are thousands of small beads on each wreath, plenty to go around. If anyone is decent enough to ask for a souvenir, they are welcome. But I’m not going to have things stolen if I can help it.
23 Aug 1928 – It is the second anniversary of Valentino’s death. Memorial services are being held again and beautiful memorial services are being held again. You might believe that after two years the memory of this great star would have dimmed. I can’t see that it has. Of course, most of the curiosity seekers have forgotten, but his real admirers have remained faithful. There must have been between four and five hundred people here today.
24 Aug 1928 – I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of these flowers. George Ullman, Valentino’s former manager sent over a lot more today. He gets letters and telegrams from all over the world containing remittances for floral tributes. His secretary sees that everyone is represented by some blossoms. This she does with great care, as she holds it a high honor to serve the ones who loved Valentino. She personally selects the floral arrangements and spends hours helping me arrange them. That is, she arranges them and I help if I can. We had our usual group of hysterical women yesterday and today. I am becoming accustomed to women screaming and crying for their “Rudy”. But when men do it sort of gets me. There was a little foreigner in today, a Frenchman. He burst into tears and kissed the cold marble of Valentino’s crypt then turning he practically ran from the building.
15 Oct 1928 – I met Mrs. Coppola today. She is the mother of the baby named for Rudolph Valentino. Of course, being Italian, the name is spelled Rodolfo. The baby died at birth, 29 Sep and is in a crypt on the top tier of the Valentino corridor. The mother came today and stayed several hours reading her bible and praying. I wish I could do something to comfort her in her grief.
21 Nov 1928 – Mrs. Coppola happier today than I have ever seen her. I asked her why and she told me a strange story of Valentino coming to her last night talking to her. She said his spirit came to her house and knocked on the door. When she let him in, he told her that her baby was happy and not to grieve so much.
16 Jan 1929 – I have not written anything in my diary for some time. Mrs. Coppola and I have become great friends. She calls me “Mr. Pete”. She comes regularly at least five times a week and always brings flowers from her own garden. These she divides equally between her baby and Valentino. I found out today that she never saw the Valentino crypt on the screen. When he died, she sold her home in San Diego, and moved to Hollywood, taking a house within walking distance of the cemetery. She used to come over often, even before her baby died, but she came over so early in the morning or late at night that I missed seeing her. She tells me that she seen Valentino’s spirit occasionally in her dreams and frequently hears him walking about the house at night. She has met Valentino’s brother and sister who come often and once in a while they all pray together.
There is another woman who comes regularly once a week. She is always dressed in black and always brings flowers. Valentino’s crypt will never lack floral tributes as long as his relatives and Mrs. Coppola, the lady in black and the various Valentino organizations keep his memory alive. There is a group in London that has the cemetery florist deliver a basket of flowers every Saturday.
07 Mar 1929 – The lady in black is no longer a person of mystery. She told me a lot about herself today. She is very poor, which explains why she always wears the same black dress every week. A black and white hat and a long cape, reaching to her ankles, complete her costume. Her husband left her several years ago with a small child to support. She earns all she can by doing housework of the hardest sort. Valentino represents the only romance in her life. She went to the studio once to see him work, but was too bashful to ask for an introduction. She says, however, that he glanced her way and smiled while looking directly into her eyes. That moment she will treasure forever. A few weeks later, he left for New York, where he died. She failed in her endeavor to meet him while he lived and now she spends what time she can by his side in death. The flowers she brings she feels are a pitiful offering as compared to the gorgeous wreaths she sees by his crypt. She seems furtively to slip her few blossoms among the others as though she is ashamed of the house-grown tribute. I know of none more sincere.
3 Apr 1929 – My lady in black came today. She kissed the marble in front of Rudy’s crypt, as she always does, and her face was still pressed to the cold surface when Valentino’s brother came in. She must have recognized Valentino’s brother from his pictures, for she seemed paralyzed by embarrassment. She simply cowed in a corner as if to hide from him. I know she would like to meet Alberto, so I made a point of introducing them. When I told him how she came regularly to bring flowers, he thanked her graciously. I have never seen anyone so pleased.
8 Jun 1929 – My lady in black did not come this week or last. I miss seeing her and hope she is not ill. She cannot afford to be sick form what she told me.
23 Aug 1929 – Third anniversary of Valentino’s death. Again, the flowers are being received in tremendous quantities. Perhaps a few less than last year. All the regulars came except the lady in black, I am worried about her. Wish I knew where she lives. (Note I never heard from her again).
4 Oct 1929 – There must be a convention of spiritualists around here some somewhere. I have met more people who have talked of having seen Valentino’s spirit recently than I have since I have been with the mausoleum. They tell very convincing stories. I wonder what it is like to have the power to peer into the mystic realm of the dead. On an average, I like these folks who talk of spirit form. They are generally very quiet and well-mannered. Some are rather weirdly dressed, but there’s probably for effect.
16 Dec 1929 – We had a real spiritualistic manifestation today. A woman came in and introduced herself as a medium. She said she had spoken with Valentino upon numerous occasions, but he always disappeared before she could ask him everything she wished answered. She had, therefore, travelled from somewhere in New England that she might hold a séance by his crypt. Perhaps she wasn’t asking my permission, but I told her to go ahead. I really don’t care what people do just so they aren’t noisy and don’t steal or break anything. This woman started to go into a trance when something happened. IA series of knocks were actually heard from above the crypt. The medium ran around in circles, crying “Hear Hear’ He knocks. Rudy knocks. She behaved like an insane person. Others, attracted by her cries came running down the corridor. Sure enough, there was a tap, tap, tap to be heard from above. We investigated and found a large yellow-hammer had gotten into the attic of the mausoleum. How that bird had been able to get in remains a mystery to this day. But he was flying around crazily and the beating of his wings caused the tapping noise. The bird and the spiritualist left the cemetery about the same time. I don’t know which was the most crest fallen but neither returned.
21 Jan 1930 – Some people don’t realize when they are well off. A young lady came in today, who had quarreled with her husband over some silly trifle. The argument started when she informed him that Rudy would not have treated her as he was treating her. He replied that, if she did not like it, she could go live with Rudy. So she took his advice and left home. She spent all day crying by the Valentino crypt.
22 Jan 1930 – The same girl has been around all day again. She says she is going to get a job in the movies.
23 Jan 1930 – The girl did not show up today.
24 Jan 1930 – She did this morning when I came in, I found her asleep on the cold marble alongside Valentino’s crypt. She came around last night and finding the mausoleum closed, she climbed through the window. Apparently, she was attempting to follow her husband’s advice about living with Rudy. She was warned that if she tried the stunt again she would be liable to legal prosecution for unlawful entry. This isn’t the first time somebody has tried to spend the night in the mausoleum and it won’t be the last. Before closing up, we always look for people who might be hiding.
31 Jan 1930 – Heard today, that the girl who climbed into the mausoleum window had returned to her husband. He came to get her and take her back to the mid-west.
2 May 1930 – For more than a week, a very pretty young lady has been manufacturing her own souvenirs. Like the other girl who collected rose petals, she is from Chicago. These people from Chicago, seem to do allot of travelling. This particular young lady, has been bringing a large bunch of yellow roses on her daily visits. She puts them in a receptacle by the crypt and clips off the dying buds from previous contributions. These flowers she intends to take home as souvenirs from Valentino’s crypt. She put them there who has a better right to take them away.
14 Jul 1930 – I heard one of the strangest stories of my experience today. A middle-aged woman came in with an enormous bunch of lowers and made her way directly to the Valentino corridor. She seemed to know where she was going and I followed to offer her what assistance I could with her flowers. As she neared Valentino’s crypt I heard her cry “At last, Rudy, at last I have come. Your spirit has led me on, ever on, to view your final resting place. Rest, dear heart, rest” there was a lot more in the same vein. While she rested, she told me her story of how Valentino’s spirit had come to her as she lay ill on her hospital bed in a Southern city. Valentino whispered that she would get well immediately, but the must make a pilgrimage to his tomb before she could find happiness. The vision disappeared and she fell into a deep restful sleep. When she awoke she felt strong enough to leave the hospital. They discharged her two days later. As she needed funds for the trip to California, she sought an office position and obtained one as a secretary to a business executive. It was practically a case of love at first sight, and when the executive was called to Europe on business he proposed they take a trip for a honeymoon. The only cause of a rift is their first months of happiness is the vision of Valentino. Her husband scoffed at the vision calling it a hallucination of the sick room. But she was unable to dismiss it so easily. When they returned from Europe, she insisted on following the advice of her vision. Her insistence forced a separation and in a small car she set out for California narrowly escaping death in three separate accidents. Arriving in Hollywood she drove straight to the cemetery. She summed up her story by saying “Here I am at the end of my pilgrimage, exhausted but happy in the of my success. My task is done, I have kept faith. My plans for the future are not made but if I can find work, I hope to remain in California.
21 Jul 1930 – It has been a week since the lady with the vision came. She appeared again this afternoon with more flowers. She told me that she had obtained work in a studio and planned to settle here. She was assured she would find happiness promised to her by Valentino’s spirit.
31 Jul 1930 – A man has been haunting the mausoleum for the last two days. I wonder who he is.
2 Aug 1930 – The mystery man has been identified. He met his wife this morning who was none other than the vision lady. They talked for some time in a secluded corner and apparently patched up all their differences. He waited for his wife outside while she knelt by Valentino’s crypt to say a last good-bye. She kissed the marble, whispering “Farewell Rudy, dear heart, farewell”. She did not stay long. Smiling she followed her husband into the sunlight.
23 Aug 1930 – Fourth anniversary of Valentino’s death and a repetition of all others. Flowers a little less profuse, but no other change.
3 Sep 1930 – Among today’s visitors was a delightful little lady who informed me proudly she was 80 years of age and a great-grandmother. She wanted to buy the crypt directly over Valentino but when I told her he might be moved later on, as he was merely occupying a section of the June Mathis groups she decided not to buy. “He was so sweet” she said. I loved him like one of my own children. If I cannot be near him always here I will wait awhile until they decide where he is to be moved. Then perhaps it can be arranged. This at 80 years of age. Peter’s diary ends here inasmuch as it concerns Valentino. But he informs me that the fifth anniversary in fact, was observed with greater interest than any since the first. I withdraw all my contentions regarding the advisability of launching a $40,000 Valentino Memorial at this time. The public, if invited, would undoubtedly subscribe $4,000.000, so dear is the memory of Valentino in their hearts.
A palatable dish with all the ingredients of good drama, well served,
constitutes the piece de resistance at present on the Metropolitan menu. In
fact it is hardly possible that Pola Negri of “The Woman on Trial” would not
whet the jaded appetite of the most sophisticated of the devotees of the
silver screen. And jaded indeed does the appetite of the average spectator at
the average motion picture become; picture succeeds picture, plot follows plot
with an abysmal shallowness of invention, and a dispiriting similarity of
spirit. It almost seems as if the chief advance of the art were in the
decoration of the theatre, rather than the quality of the picture. “The Woman
on Trial” differs very little in plot and invention from innumerable other
pictures the reviewer could enumerate if he had a memory for names. Enough,
that it plays in Paris with scenes from the Place de la Concorde and the Latin
Quarter. It seems unnecessary to examine the plot further. In spirit, to use
that nebulous word, it differs, however, from the other fruit on the family
tree. That new spirit is due without any doubt to the presence of Pola Negri.
She is not pretty the bathing beauty sense, yet it is perhaps her face which
gives the tone to the whole picture. There is in it a look of passion and
tragedy without which “The Woman on Trial” might be interchanged with any
other similar picture and no one would care much, even if he noticed the
difference,. But there is a difference, and it is just the difference between
the good and the poor. As for the rest of the Metropolitan’s “Greater Entertainment,” the divertissement, so to speak, it remains rather hazily in the mind; in fact it succeeded excellently in diverting the attention from what was taking place on the stage. There guesses what it was.
Pola Negri, one of Hollywood’s choicest importations, is the reason for going to the Metropolitan this week, if one is not of that ever increasing Publix contingent which just loves to put Gene Rodemich on a pedestal and applaude his numerous gyrations. However, to give Gene credit, he does surround himself with a some-what more entertaining group than usual to celebrate his “Hall and Farewell” performances. Now that he is leaving Boston, for a while at least, the reviewers will have to give more attention to the feature film at the Babylonish picture palace. Pola Negri’s glittering photodrama “Three Sinners” is one of those pictures which thrill backwoods audiences and cause girls with limited wardrobes to leave home for Hollywood. The features of the hectic and soul-stirring tragedy are Pola’s bare back and-her silver wig. She handles both capably, so capably in fact that Dresden, Vienna, and Paris combined have nothing in the way of feminity to rival her. She portrays dramatically–a la bare back and silver wig–a woman whose ruined life was brought about through her husband’s indifference. A railroad wreck, gambling dens in full blast, interiors of choice Parisian restaurants, and sorrowful close-ups of Pola drenching her little girl with a shower of joyful tears at the end, make the picture very enjoyable for students leading suppressed lives and rebelling against the monotonous humdrum of Cambridge.
Rudolph Valentino’s romance with Pola Negri was recalled in a $13,042 suit filed by the Bank of America against Rudolph’s brother Alberto Valentino, now a studio employee. The action involves a note for $8000.00 signed by Miss Negri and the late film star on which only $581.74 has been paid off. The bank obtained a judgement of $9,660.00 in 1936 and is renewing its claim at the end of five years, with 7% interest. Unable to serve papers on the actress, who is said to be in Switzerland, the bank seeks to hold Alberto responsible for the entire amount.
Luther Mahoney, of Newport Beach is haunted by the obscurity that has befallen the entombed remains of his friend, confidant and employer of 40 years ago. Several times a year Mahoney, a jolly 72-year-old Irishman, visits that friend’s final resting place–an obscure, borrowed crypt In Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery. “It’s terrible,” says Mahoney. “He deserves something better than that. I think if the public knew he was in a borrowed crypt they might get up a fund and put him into something proper.” That friend was Rudolph Valentino, the dark-haired screen lover with flashing brown eyes who starred in scores of silent films during the twenties. Tomorrow is the 39th anniversary of Valentino’s death, memorial services are expected to be conducted at his crypt. Every year dozens of men, women and children gather at the crypt for the services. But Mahoney won’t be there. “It would be awkward,” he says, “allot of curiosity seekers just asking me questions. I visit the crypt whenever I’m in Hollywood and always make it a point to be there on his birthday. But I never go to the memorial services, I’d rather go when there’s nobody around. I just say a prayer and leave.” Mahoney, who worked as a handyman and personal aide for the actor two years before he died in 1926, is trying to promote a fund to build a memorial tomb for Valentino. Shortly after Valentino’s death, there was talk of building a marble tomb for the actor, but nothing ever came of it. “I’d be happy if I could help to get him a nice place to rest,” says Mahoney. “My idea is to build a tomb with black Belgian marble inside with his solid bronze casket on display. It could then be viewed by the public. Ever since he died and they stuck him in a borrowed crypt it has disturbed me.” He says Valentino’s casket was originally placed in a crypt owned by June Mathis, the screenwriter Mahoney says gave Valentino his first big break In the Valentino represented romance to a world seeking relief from pressures. Above, as “The Sheik,” he rose to the heights of motion picture renown. Friend and former employee of Valentino, Luther Mahoney poses with a picture of film star who tried on an Indian headdress “just for kicks.” When June Mathis died, Mahoney says, Valentino’s body was moved into another borrowed crypt, which belonged to her husband. He later sold it to Valentino’s estate, according to Mahoney. “The unfortunate way they treated his body still haunts me,” he admits. “I’d like to do something about it before I die.” When Valentino died in New York City on Aug. 23, 1926, there was pandemonium. Outside the funeral home in New York where Valentino’s body was taken, thousands of emotional women fans rioted and broke windows. More than a dozen persons were injured. Women wept openly and fainted in the streets as they waited to file past the actor’s open casket in the mortuary. An estimated 150,000 persons viewed the body. During the funeral service at Church of St. Malacy in New York, the crowd outside surged out of control and scores more were injured. Pola Negri, the Polish actress who announced before Valentino’s death that she was engaged to marry him, and Jean Acker, the actor’s first wife, who said she reconciled with him before his death, followed his casket into the church. Then, as eulogies poured in from throughout the country, Valentino’s body, borne in a flower-covered casket, was returned to Hollywood aboard a special railroad car. “Romance is the only thing worth big headlines, and Rudolph Valentino spelled romance,” editorialized one newspaper. In Hollywood, preparations were completed for one of the most lavish funerals in the history of the film capital. There was standing room only in the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills where Requiem High Mass was said for Valentino on Sept. 7. His flower-covered casket rested on a velvet catafalque of royal purple. On each side of the casket stood six lighted tapers. Grand opera star Richard Bonelli sang “Ave Maria.” Grief stricken and under the care of doctors, frail Miss Negri was wracked with sobs during the service. She was among more than 500 persons who jammed into the church to pay their final respects. Outside stood thousands of onlookers, and thousands more lined the route to the cemetery. Mahoney confides that he arranged for Valentino’s chauffeur, a former Royal Air Force pilot, to fly ahead of the funeral procession dropping roses. “At the cemetery he flew very low over the mausoleum dropping roses as they took the casket out of the hearse,” Mahoney recalls. “It was quite a sight.” In the months following Valentino’s death, thousands of women mourned him. And 35 women claimed he had fathered illegitimate children by them. However, all claims came after his death. There were no children from Valentino’s two marriages. VALENTINO’S best known mourner was the woman in black, who- dressed in black dress, black stockings, black hat, black shoes and black veil–appeared for years at his crypt with a bouquet of roses on the anniversary of his death. She hasn’t been seen at the crypt in recent years. Rodolfo Gugliemi Valentino was born In Italy, the son of a farmer, on May 6, 1895. A graduate of Italy’s Royal Academy of Agriculture, he came to the United States at the age of 18 with hopes of becoming a landscape gardener. However, he was unable to hold down a landscaping job, according to his biographers, and for several months scratched out a living washing dishes. Later, he took a job as a vaudeville dancer and migrated to the West Coast with a musical comedy company. That was 1919. Two years later he starred in what was to become his most popular film, “The Sheik.” Mahoney says he met Valentino by chance in 1922 while a policeman in New York City. “I was sent to the Ritz Hotel one night to ride as a bodyguard for Mr. Valentino–I never called him anything but Mr. Valentino although I was older–because I think he had received a threat. We talked quite a bit that night and he told me if I was ever in Hollywood to look him up.” TWO YEARS later Mahoney did. He went to work for a movie studio and eventually was assigned to Valentino’s staff. “I wasn’t his bodyguard. I just handled personal things. I had charge of the house and the domestic help and everything that belonged to him. I never worked for a nicer kinder caring man than him.
Fans and Exhibitors Agree that Gloria Swanson, Thomas Meighan and Rudolph Valentino are the biggest drawing cards in the industry and lead the “Regular Program Stars” in popularity. A “program star” is one who produces pictures at intervals of three or four months. The public in liking Thomas Meighan and Rudolph Valentino in the same breath, show two distinctly different sides. Thomas Meighan represents the red-blooded, two-fisted he man sort of person. The men like him because he lacks any sign of being effeminate or foppish. And the women like him because – oh, well, he’s just the kind of big, strong man women like. Valentino on the other hand, represents the great lover, the perfect escort. He dresses faultlessly, he dances divinely and makes love to perfection. He is the sort of man dreamt about by women with five children and a husband with the manners of a stevedore. He represents perfection of culture and refinement and it’s no wonder that women with a round of household duties think he’s simply grand. And flappers too, get their idea of the perfect man from the hair oil advertisements. The men don’t like Valentino so much. That is, they don’t “just adore” him. But they have to admit he’s a good actor and is there when it comes to the haberdashery. Gloria Swanson is popular with women because she represents what most women would like to be; she is the embodiment of al seductive, irresistible womanhood. She wears magnificent clothes and plays the wicked vamp. And has not almost every woman a secret desire to be exactly this? When they see Gloria beautifully gowned, faultlessly groomed, making one attractive man after another fall victim to her charms, does not Fanny Fox from Farmingdale see herself in Gloria’s place, the fascinating woman of the world, greatly desired, greatly loved? And of course the men like Gloria. She is so beautiful and so fascinating and seems to possess all the characteristics that men are attracted to – not necessarily the characteristics they look for in a wife and housekeeper, but, you know, the things that make them forget about what a sordid business life is. It was a movie magazine that first took up seriously the problem of finding out what actors and actresses were the most successful form a box office point of view. So they asked exhibitors to rate the various stars according to their ability to draw crowds. This result was rather a shock to movie fans, and many of them wrote in expressing resentment that their particular favourite was not in the ranks. So the magazine invited the fans to send in their own ratings on a chart and curiously enough the ratings were practically the same in most cases. But there were many others that fans indignantly demanded to be put at the top of the list. Many fans considered Pola Negri, Bebe Daniels, and Nita Naldi all had many strong defenders. In some other cases, the fans ratings were found to be considerably lower than the exhibitors. As we thought the fans were the enthusiastic ones, while the exhibitors were the cold, calculating ones that judge only from box office receipts. But it seems that there is a decided difference in the point of view, which makes the exhibitors seem more lenient. No player was rated at zero by an exhibitor because he judged the drawing power knowing nothing of the ones who stayed away. The fan, on the other hand, dragged down averages by giving zero to the other players whose presence in a picture would keep them away. Blanche Sweet was the only one on the fans list who received no zeros. Out of the hundred ratings compiled Barbara La Marr receiving many rating of 95 percent, but she also received many zeros.