Friday Facts

Rudolph Valentino 1

Hello all and welcome to Friday Facts! This week I’m after finding an article about Rudolph Valentino from 1951, which was written by Harold Queen for a publication called Coronet. This article was titled The Perfect Lover and I will reproduce it here over the coming weeks. What is interesting with this article is how much it reminds us that before the boyband mania, and before the Beatles and Elvis mania, before them all – there was Rudolph:

Rudolph Valentino 2Some of the crowd at Rudolph Valentino’s Funeral

“In the little theaters that feature old-time films, Rodolpho Alfonzo Raffaelo Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla still plays to packed houses. Thousands of aging matrons remember him as the beau ideal of the 1920s – the decade of the Charleston and Al Capone. Some 35 women named their children after him, and three others committed suicide on his account. Indeed, few figures of modern times (early 1950s) have inspired the mass hysteria that swirled about the life, loves, and final curtain call, at 31, of Rudolph Valentino, ‘The Perfect Lover’.”

Rudolph Valentino 3Rudolph Valentino in Blood and Sands

“The supple, olive-skinned son of an Italian veterinarian was both the expression of his era and in a sense its part-creator. He gave the language a new word – “sheik” – to describe the great brotherhood of street-corner musketeers who pomaded their hair and grew long sideburns in imitation of their hero.”

Rudolph Valentino 4Rudolph Valentino: The Sheik

“When he first flashed across the screen in flowing white burnoose, women everywhere rushed to purchase Sheik hats and frocks, Sheik cosmetics and handbags. He gave the tango its greatest lease on life in America, and few survivors of that dim age fail to remember the hand-wound phonographs grinding out The Sheik of Araby.”

Rudolph Valentino 5Valentino the Man

“The Valentino cult frequently took more exuberant turns. The platinum slave bracelet he wore on his wrist, his reported communications with the other world, and his extravagances fed a steady stream of material into the newspapers and magazines of the day. In his public appearances, admirers often stripped him of hat, tie, pocket handkerchief, even his cuff links.”

Natacha with RudolphNatacha with Rudolph

“When his second wife, Natacha Rambova, left New York during an enforced separation until his divorce became final, reporters on the train intercepted his telegrams and rushed them into headlines before she had seen them. When the couple later appeared together in a nationwide dance tour, thousands gathered at sidings to catch a glimpse of them in their special railway car.”

Rudolph Valentino 6Rudolph Valentino Performing

The Sheik‘s acting rated high by standards of the silent screen, and it is likely that he would have done equally well in talking pictures. His pantherish grace, exotic features, and sturdy physique contributed to the actual tremors many women experienced when seeing him on the screen. The young Italian had the added faculty of completely absorbing the personality of his screen characters. In preparing for Blood and Sand, he studied the art of bullfighting with a retired toreador, spoke nothing but Spanish, grew sideburns, and learned to walk and swagger like a true hero of the ring.”

Rudolph Valentino 8Do what I tell you woman, for I am The Sheik!

“The prime reason for his extraordinary appeal, however, lay in the fact that, to millions of moviegoers, the name Valentino spelled romance. In the workaday world of Harding and Coolidge, he was the high lama of escape. For the small price of a ticket, he secured for his devotees temporary admission to a dream world of daring gallantry and erotic suggestiveness. This talent lifted the dark-eyed tango partner from the dance hall to a Hollywood manor, a stable of exotic foreign cars, and the title of ‘The Screen’s Greatest Lover’.”

Rudolph Valentino 9Look into my eyes; now look very deeply!

“The man to whom these honours came was born in southern Italy in 1895. In 1913, his family packed him off to the New World, where, according to legend, he landed a job as a bus boy and dancing partner, with meals thrown in. This was the age of Irene and Vernon Castle, and the dance craze was sweeping America. So Guglielmi turned professional, making the vaudeville circuits of the period.”

Rudolph Valentino 10Well, I can’t sing and I can’t dance …, but I look okay, I suppose!

“In 1915, when Italy entered the war, Rodolpho applied for the Italian Air Force but was turned down because of poor eyesight. A try at the British Royal Flying Corps brought similar results. Finally he joined a musical company making ts way to California, but when he landed in San Francisco, both job and income ended. It was at this point that a friendly screen actor, Norman Kerry, thought the young Italian had film possibilities and staked him to an apartment near Hollywood.”

Rex Directing RudolphRex Ingram directing Rudolph Valentino

Well. that’s the first section of the article The Perfect Lover by Harold Queen from 1951. I hope you’re enjoying learning about the history of this legendary silent-film star, who took the silent era by storm with his dark, exotic looks and his handsome, mysterious features. Women loved and wanted him, men envied and idolized him, and Rex Ingram made him; find out how next week!

Cover of "The Sheik / The Son of the Shei...

Cover via Amazon

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Constance Talmadge, silent film actress with R...

Constance Talmadge, silent film actress with Rudolf Valentino (Photo credit: scismgenie)

Valentino - The Sheik

Valentino – The Sheik (Photo credit: DonnaGrayson)

Cover of "Blood and Sand: Silent Classic&...

Cover of Blood and Sand: Silent Classic

Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova

Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova (Photo credit: The Loudest Voice)

promotional image of screen writer June Mathis...

promotional image of screen writer June Mathis on the set of Blood and Sand with star Rudolph Valentino (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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