Good day and welcome to the second part of our 1951 article titled The Perfect Lover, which was written by Harold Queen, published in the Coronet Magazine and is about the extremely dark featured, very handsome, Rudolph Valentino. Last week we were looking at his early days in Hollywood, so what happened next:
“For a time, Valentino (whose name by now had changed), went unrecognized. He took bit parts at $5 a day and lived sparingly. Gradually, he got better parts and salaries up to $150 a week. In 1920, Rex Ingram, casting for The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, selected Valentino as Julio, the story’s young Argentine hero. In the film, Valentino danced the tango, and when The Four Horsemen opened in New York, word filtered back that he was sensational. Valentino promptly asked for a $50-a-week and was curtly refused.”
“A woman, E. M. Hull, had written a book, The Sheik, describing love and lesser matters on the Sahara Desert. When Valentino appeared in the film version, sheik became a national byword. Ten thousand letters a week jammed the star’s mailbox. His salary leaped to $1,000 a week.”
“Valentino’s succeeding films, and particularly The Young Rajah, involved him in a battle with his employers, whom he accused of putting him in inferior productions. The result was a court injunction banning him from stage or screen until he fulfilled his contract. He and Rambova then undertook the dance tour, which was sponsored by the makers of a beauty clay. The salary, $7,000 a week, enabled him to maintain his well-publicized extravagances, which sometimes landed him in debt by as much as $100,000.”
“When he returned to the screen after a two-year absence, Valentino found that, if anything, his popularity had spurted. Millions came to see him in Monsieur Beaucaire, The Sainted Devil, The Cobra, and as a Cossack in The Eagle. He was separated from Rambova, and the public took avid delight in his new emotional attachments – Vilma Banky, and later the tempestuous Pola Negri.”
“For the New York opening of Son of the Sheik, thousands waited in a withering heat wave. Some 4,000 more gathered at the stage door to mob their idol, who was making a personal appearance.”
And there we leave it for this week, but not to worry, I’ll be back next week for the concluding part of this hugely interesting article about one of the first ever cinematic heart-throbs. So for now, Slán Leat!
Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee