Friday Facts

English: Rudolph Valentino in "The Sheik&...

English: Rudolph Valentino in “The Sheik” (www.silentgents.com) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week I’m going to publish the third part of the article The Perfect Lover about Rudolph Valentino by Harold Queen, which was originally published in a publication called Cornet back in 1951. This brilliant article looks at the career of Valentino and it gives an insight of the life of early stars of film and how the public followed their careers. Last week we seen how Valentino’s star and fame rose very quickly and how he became wealthy over a short space of time; you could say he became one of the first megastars, but as the saying goes, money doesn’t always bring happiness:

 

Gertrude Ederle, 1930 "People said women ...

Gertrude Ederle, 1930 “People said women couldn’t swim the Channel but I proved they could” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“It was the summer of 1926, and a somnolent nation sought distractions in the Hall-Mills murder case, Abie’s Irish Rose, and the swimming of the English Channel by Gertrude Ederle. On August 15, Valentino, then 31, was quietly reading the Sunday papers in his hotel suite when he suddenly clutched his side and collapsed. He was rushed to Polyclinic hospital. A special information booth answered hundreds of personal queries each day. The press carried special bulletins from the battery of doctors.”

 

Rudolph Valentino 1

 

“On the eight day, a priest pressed a crucifix to the actor’s lips. Two hours later, Rudolph Valentino passed away, while thousands milled in the streets below. But no friend, relative, or business associate was at his side.”

 

A mourner pictured with the body of Rudolph Va...

A mourner pictured with the body of Rudolph Valentino at the actor’s funeral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Next morning, a crowd of 600 gathered at the funeral parlor where Valentino lay in state. Soon police were having difficulty controlling 10.000 people, including women dressed in widow’s weeds. When the doors opened at 2 o’clock, the crowd surged forward, bowling aside police and invading the parlor. The great window of the establishment suddenly gave way, spraying glass, and three policemen and a photographer were gashed. Police and undertakers in cutaways and white gloves battled the hysterical mob. Riot calls flashed out, and the huge reception room of the funeral parlor was converted into an emergency hospital, with two doctors working on the injured.”

 

Crowds at Valentino's FuneralCrowds at Valentino’s Funeral

 

“Upstairs, Valentino lay in a $10,000 bronze and silver casket. Guarded by police, groups of 75 to 100 were herded swiftly to the coffin room. There, each mourner was allotted a two-second glance, then hustled on his way. The rioting continued until midnight, when the doors were closed. But thousands lingered until early morning, and when the melee finally ended, more than 100 people had been injured, 15 seriously.”

 

Crowds at Valentino's FuneralCrowds at Valentino’s Funeral

 

“Next day, 200 officers were on hand to control a crowd expected to swell to 200,000. By mid-morning, the line was 15 blocks long. This time, Valentino’s followers were comparatively orderly, but only a relative minority approached with a sense of reverence for the dead. Flappers giggled as they neared the coffin.”

 

English: Pola Negri Deutsch: Pola Negri

English: Pola Negri Deutsch: Pola Negri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“On the third day, when a mob of 5,000 again rioted, S. George Ullman, Valentino’s manager, ordered the public display ended. The curious gathered again when Pola Negri, Valentino’s reputed fiancée, stepped from the 20th Century Limited after a dramatized dash across the continent. Miss Negri, in a specially designed mourning costume, screamed and collapsed at the coffin.”

 

Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh (Photo credit: San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives)

“There was a brief revival of interest in this event; but public attention already had shifted to the official welcome for Miss Ederle, fresh from her successful plunge. Not until nearly a year later did the public find another hero on whom to shower its emotion. On May 20, 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh flew the Atlantic.”

English: Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres in ...

English: Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres in “The Sheik.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Rudolph Valentino’s life and death typified an era that received its own sudden and unexpected deathblow three years later in the gray canyons of Wall Street. Escape and romance had had their greatest fling in the history of America. As things turned out, perhaps the Sheik might never have been able to gallop successfully across the black sands of realism that followed him so shortly after his passing.”

English: Crypt of Rudolph Valentino at Hollywo...

English: Crypt of Rudolph Valentino at Hollywood Forever Cemetery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And so you have it, the life and death of one the first mega-stars of Hollywood. He gained a lot so quickly and had built up a massive fan-base of countless adoring female admirers, only for his life to fall short at a very young age. But even still, in his short time as a Hollywood star of the screen, the hugely handsome Rudolph Valentino left a seductive mark on the history of Hollywood, which endures even to this day. Till next week, be good!

 

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

 

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