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The death of silent-screen idol Rudolph Valentino at the age of 31 sends his fans into a hysterical state of mass mourning. In his brief film career, the Italian-born actor established a reputation as the archetypal screen lover. After his death from a ruptured ulcer was announced, dozens of suicide attempts were reported, and the actress Pola Negri—Valentino’s most recent lover—was said to be inconsolable. Tens of thousands of people paid tribute at his open coffin in New York City, and 100,000 mourners lined the streets outside the church where funeral services were held. Valentino’s body then traveled by train to Hollywood, where he was laid to rest after another funeral.

Rudolph Valentino was born Rodolfo Guglielmi in Castellaneta, Italy, in 1895. He immigrated to the United States in 1913 and worked as a gardener, dishwasher, waiter, and gigolo before building a minor career as a vaudeville dancer. In 1917, he went to Hollywood and appeared as a dancer in the movie Alimony. Valentino became known to casting directors as a reliable Latin villain type, and he appeared in a series of small parts before winning a leading role in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921). The film, which featured a memorable scene of Valentino dancing the tango, made the rakishly handsome Italian an overnight sensation. His popularity soared with romantic dramas such as The Sheik (1921), Blood and Sand (1922) and The Eagle (1925).

Valentino was Hollywood’s first male sex symbol, and millions of female fans idolized him as the “Great Lover.” His personal life was often stormy, and after two failed marriages he began dating the sexy Polish actress Pola Negri in 1926. Shortly after his final film, The Son of the Sheik, opened, in August 1926, he was hospitalized in New York because of a ruptured ulcer. Fans stood in a teary-eyed vigil outside Polyclinic Hospital for a week, but shortly after 12 p.m. on August 23 he succumbed to infection.

Valentino lay in state for several days at Frank E. Campbell’s funeral home at Broadway and 66th St., and thousands of mourners rioted, smashed windows, and fought with police to get a glimpse of the deceased star. Standing guard by the coffin were four Fascists, allegedly sent by Italian leader Benito Mussolini but in fact hired by Frank Campbell’s press agent. On August 30, a funeral was held at St. Malachy’s Church on W. 49th St., and a number of Hollywood notables turned out, among them Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Gloria Swanson. Pola Negri appointed herself chief mourner and obligingly fainted for photographers several times between the train station and the chapel. She collapsed in a dead faint again beside Valentino’s bier, where she had installed a massive flower arrangement that spelled out the word POLA.

Valentino’s body was shipped to Hollywood, where another funeral was held for him at the Church of the Good Shepherd on September 14. He then was finally laid to rest in a crypt donated by his friend June Mathis in Hollywood Memorial Park. Each year on the anniversary of his death, a mysterious “Lady in Black” appeared at his tomb and left a single red rose. She was later joined by other, as many as a dozen, “Ladies in Black.” The identity of the original Lady in Black is disputed, but the most convincing claimant is Ditra Flame, who said that Valentino visited her in the hospital when she was deathly ill at age 14, bringing her a red rose. Flame said she kept up her annual pilgrimage for three decades and then abandoned the practice when multiple imitators started showing up.


Last of the red-hot myths: what gossip over Rudolph Valentino's sex life says about the silents

R odolfo Guglielmi was born in 1895 in a farmhouse in Castellaneta, southern Italy. He died 31 years later in New York City, a heart-throb known to millions as Rudolph Valentino. The combination of beauty and an early death can transform any star into a legend. But Valentino was more than just a star to begin with. In his adopted homeland of America, he was an object of both devotion and open hatred. Thousands of young women turned out to mourn Valentino at his funeral and some reportedly killed themselves in despair when they heard the news. But while America’s daughters were sobbing, many American men were delighted to see the back of him.

Ken Russell’s lurid, but gorgeously art-directed quasi-biopic Valentino (1977), which is released on Blu-ray this week, is not the place to turn for the facts about the actor’s life. “I can be as inaccurate as I want to,” said Russell. “My films are novels, based on a person’s life, and a novel has a point of view. I’m not interested in making documentaries.” Nor is its nimble star Rudolf Nureyev a physical match for doughy, dark-haired Valentino. But in its hyperactive, highly strung portrayal of Valentino as a chaste sex symbol, it gets to the heart of why he continues to be an object of morbid fascination and sexual speculation.

The Guardian’s report of Valentino’s death in 1926 surmised primly that: “He was to American flappers generally almost what the Prince of Wales is to the English.” With the benefit of hindsight, that is hilarious. The beginning and end of Valentino’s appeal was sex. Dancing a steamy tango in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) or commanding his lover to “Lie still, you little fool!” in both The Sheik (1921) and The Son of the Sheik (1926), Valentino performed a violently sexual passion on screen. Fan magazines praised the “red-hot” romance of his pictures, and women found him irresistible. But elsewhere in the press, male writers sharpened their pens.

Jealousy can almost always be taken as a compliment. “I hate Valentino!” joked “slang reviewer” Dick Dorgan in Photoplay. “All men hate Valentino … he has been the cause of more home-cooked battle royals than they can print in the papers. The women are all dizzy over him. The men have formed a secret order (of which I am running for president and chief executive as you may notice) to loathe, hate and despise him for obvious reasons.”

To a certain extent, this is all very flattering, and every time Valentino’s films were called homewreckers, women were all the more keen to see them. But other writers were more serious, and chose to undermine the image of the screen’s Great Lover with allusions to his supposed effeminacy. Movie acting was not considered to be a macho career, but worse, Valentino was a dancer as well. When he first arrived in the US in 1913, he had worked as a “taxi dancer”, a profession synonymous in many people’s minds with being a gigolo. There had been a scandal back then, too, a messy one involving a divorce case and a murder that resulted in Valentino being arrested in a raid on a brothel.

Constantly having to defend his appeal … Valentino in The Sheik. Photograph: Rex Features

Valentino always told reporters he wanted a partner who would be the perfect Italian-style housewife and mother (“a man should pick out a woman who is pretty, has a good disposition, and is domestically inclined”), but his marital misadventures tell a different story. He was married twice, first to actor Jean Acker – although they never consummated the marriage, as Valentino chose his wedding day to tell her that he had gonorrhoea. His second wife was flamboyant art director and costume designer Natacha Rambova. They were forced to separate when they were still newlyweds, as Valentino was still legally married to Acker. Rambova fled to New York, while Valentino was sent to jail, to be prosecuted for bigamy. In Russell’s film, this is escalated to a grotesque vomit and urine-splashed vignette, with Rambova and Valentino in adjoining cells on their wedding night.

The prison officer who taunts Valentino in that gruesome scene voices many of the attacks that hounded him. From his time on the New York dancefloors to his Hollywood heyday, many writers took issue with the way that Valentino dressed. At first they remarked on the fact that he wore a corset (Valentino had to reconcile his love of spaghetti with his trim tuxedos somehow) and they even took exception to his watch. The fashionable Valentino wore a wristwatch, a relatively new invention, which was considered far too much like a bracelet by macho types who preferred the pocket variety. And speaking of bracelets, when Rambova bought him a “slave bracelet”, the press scented blood. A man wearing jewellery, jewellery that connotes ownership, bought for him by a woman! Valentino loved that bracelet and defiantly wore it every day, as part of an outlandishly expensive wardrobe that included jewelled rings, fur coats and silk cravats.

Pola Negri, to whom Valentino was engaged, at his funeral, 8 September 1926. Photograph: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

From the suggestion of sex work to the whiff of feminine style, many of these barbs were simply stabs at saying Valentino was gay. It is a rumour that persists, and it pervades Russell’s film completely, which is based loosely on a biography that asserts Valentino’s homosexuality. There is some evidence, much of it disputed or from unreliable sources such as Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon, to suggest that Valentino had sexual relationships with men. And similarly, anecdotal evidence from his girlfriends and female co-stars suggests that he was not so interested in sex, with them at least. But then he was married twice, and engaged (to Pola Negri) when he died. Understandably, because it might not have been true and because it was the 1920s, Valentino went to great lengths to deny accusations that hinted at homosexuality. One of the strangest episodes in Valentino’s life was the time he took up boxing in order to prove his virility. In Russell’s film, this is what leads to Valentino’s death, rather than the more prosaic truth (peritonitis).

It began with an editorial in the Chicago Tribune, a spiteful piece of writing that manages to be both racist and homophobic. The writer declares himself outraged to find a face-powder dispenser in a men’s bathroom, and places the blame on a movie star. Valentino had turned America’s women on to sex, and now, allegedly, he had turned America’s men on to male grooming. “Homo Americanus! Why didn’t someone quietly drown Rudolph Guglielmo, alias Valentino, years ago? … Hollywood is a national school of masculinity. Rudy, the beautiful gardener’s boy, is the prototype of the American male. Hell’s bells. Oh, sugar.”

Valentino responded with an angry letter to a rival paper “You cast doubt upon my manhood … I defy you to meet me in the boxing … arena.” He saw the “pink powder puff” attack as racist in its motivation, because he was a foreigner working in the US. When the writer, who it turned out was sick with TB, failed to respond, Valentino flexed his muscles by decking a couple of stooges in exhibition matches in New York and Chicago instead. Ken Russell’s version of events is naturally far more dramatic, with Nureyev squaring up to a beefy hack played by Peter Vaughan and tackling a drinking contest as a sequel to the bout.

Valentino was far more talented as a dancer than as an actor, but even the best of his screen performances can’t compete with the legend. He will be remembered as much for what was said about him as what he did. The gossip is often prurient, but Valentino deserves to be remembered as a man who provoked great passion – and inspired some extraordinary storytelling.


Rudolph Valentino death.

Light browning with minor spine wear, otherwise good.

wikipedia notes: On August 15, 1926, Valentino collapsed at the Hotel Ambassador in New York City. He was hospitalized at the Polyclinic in New York and underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer. The surgery went well and he seemed to be recovering when peritonitis set in and spread throughout his body. He died eight days later, at the age of 31.

A mourner pictured with the body of Rudolph Valentino at the actor's funeral
A mourner pictured with the body of Rudolph Valentino at the actor's funeral

An estimated 100,000 people lined the streets of New York City to pay their respects at his funeral, handled by the Frank Campbell Funeral Home. The event was a drama itself: actress Pola Negri collapsed in hysterics while standing over the coffin, windows were smashed as fans tried to get in, and Campbell's hired four actors to impersonate a Fascist Blackshirt honor guard, which claimed to have been sent by Benito Mussolini. It was later revealed as a planned publicity stunt.[52]

Valentino's funeral mass in New York was held at Saint Malachy's Roman Catholic Church, often called "The Actor's Chapel", as it is located on West 49th Street in the Broadway theater district, and has a long association with show business figures.

After the body was taken by train across the country, a second funeral was held on the West Coast, at the Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. Valentino had no final burial arrangements and his friend June Mathis offered her crypt for him in what she thought would be a temporary solution. However, she died the following year and Valentino was placed in the adjoining crypt. The two are still interred side by side in adjoining crypts at the Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery (now the Hollywood Forever Cemetery) in Hollywood, California.


But, Valentino’s body wasn’t laid to rest in New York.

His final resting place would be Hollywood, California, the city that had made him a star. On the five-day train trip west, thousands of mourners paid their respects. Finally, Valentino was laid to rest in a second ceremony Pola Negri attended, of course, and fainted several times&mdashmuch to the delight of reporters.

One year after Valentino’s death, a woman in black visited his tomb, laying roses at his grave. She kept up this practice for several years, until local reporters noted her presence, prompting dozens of copycats.

The woman’s identity is unknown, but she was likely Ditra Flame. Valentino had visited Flame in the hospital when she was only 14 years old to bring her a single red rose overcome by the gesture, Flame said that she visited Valentino’s grave every year to pay her respects.

For all of the thousands of people who turned Valentino’s funeral into a spectacle, at least one seemed to truly care about the great actor.


Death of Valentino and Yellow Journalism

September 8, 1926

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Public sobbing, onion-produced tears, and peach-colored extras made the illness and death of Rudolph Valentino a startling and hideous orgy of sentimentalism. Lines of the curious eleven blocks long waited in the rain to see his body women screamed and fought for a glimpse of him. Was this demonstration a revelation of “the American mind” or was it a phenomenon of publicity produced by the press?

While Valentino was dying the newspapers made him into a colossus by the simple device of featuring everything about him his breathing, his temperature, his ex-wives, and his bracelet. They could probably create a similar interest in any tolerably famous person whom they sought to exploit. They have done it at various times with Dempsey, Helen Wills, Harry Thaw, Gerald Chapman, and Calvin Coolidge. Only last month the papers of Los Angeles performed a similar feat with Aimee Semple McPherson. The mob likes familiarity. But having once worked up public interest to a hysterical pitch the yellowest of the New York papers felt a moral (financial) obligation to keep it up. New editions must be produced, new developments must be discovered to sell the extras. That was evidently the policy of the New York Evening Graphic.

On August 18, when Valentino was critically ill but apparently in no immediate danger, the Graphic flashed a two and one-half inch headline: “Rudy Dead”. Then in small letters on the side: Cry Startles Film World as Sheik Rallies. Valentino was steadily improving when the edition went to press and probably the editors knew it. But people bought the paper by thousands and rumors based on the head-line flooded the hospital with thirty-two telephone calls a minute. Mobs collected outside the hospital. Two days later when public excitement lagged the Graphic sprang its second fake. The whole Valentino scare was a publicity stunt, the public was informed. The headline read: Pan Rudy’s Fight as Publicity. The story declared that Valentino’s recent film, “The Son of the Sheik,” needed publicity, so his illness which was a trivial one had been exaggerated for the sake of advertising. The Graphic even declared that Valentino had hired a large hospital room on the first floor for $300 a week as a publicity bureau the indignant denials of the hospital authorities were ignored.

After Valentino’s death the Graphic published an edition which devoted eight complete pages to the star, crowding out nearly all news of international importance except the diary of “Peaches” Browning, which blazoned the legend across the top of a page: I’m Sitting on Top of the World Peaches Writes of Her Love-Life. The same reporter who had produced the fake advertising story now followed a new tack. Across the top of Page 1 screamed: Foul Play Hint in Death of Rudy. Within, the reader was greeted by a streamer: “Jealous Woman May Have Poisoned Sheik in Revenge. The story began:

Persistent reports along Broadway the past week, hinting darkly that the death yesterday of Rudolph Valentino might be attributed to causes not disclosed in official bulletins by his physicians, may result today in a complete investigation of the film actor’s last visit here.

Soon after Valentino had been rushed from an all-night revel at the cabarets to an operating table in the Polyclinic Hospital these three stories began circulation:

1. Rudolph Valentino had been poisoned by a jealous woman.

2. The sheik had been injured in a fight with a man who had resented Rudy’s attentions to a woman.

3. Valentino had been shot in a quarrel during a gay party.

Told of the nasty reports that had followed Valentino’s sudden appearance at Polyclinic a week ago Sunday, Assistant District Attorney Ferdinand H. Pecora declared last night that when the matter is brought to him officially he will begin an investigation to refute or prove the stories.

At the same time Dr. William B. Rawles, assistant house physician at Polyclinic, denied that Valentino’s condition has shown signs of poisoning or foul play. Nevertheless, in Broadway’s night clubs and cabarets this morning credence was given this general belief by the bright light habitues:

“Poor Rudy—the kid was knocked off. Yuh can’t tell me he died from those things the doctors said—the whole thing looks fishy to me.”

Not content with the blazoning of this baseless rumor the Graphic flung across an inside page another headline: Spirit Declares Sheik Poisoned. The editors could not locate any responsible human being to act as vehicle for their story, so they appealed to heaven. They chose an Italian spiritualist medium. The story read:

Psychic confirmation of the report that Rudolph Valentino was poisoned at the party which he attended before being taken to the Polyclinic Hospital for operation was obtained last night from the medium Nicola Peccharara during a seance at 800 West End Avenue.

The seance was under the auspices of the Unbiased Commission for the Investigation of Psychic Phenomena, sponsored by Ghost Stories Magazine, which is offering $10,000 in prizes for actual materializations from the spirit world. . . .

“What was the cause of his death?” the spirit was asked.

The reply was muffled and confused.

There was a ghastly shriek and a long drawn out cry. The voice then continued:

“But that was not the primary cause. Valentino was poisoned at the party he attended before taken to the hospital for his operation. The doctors there did their best, but they could not work against the poison which he had taken before. Valentino’s spirit is in the room now.”

It seems that the seance was a very successful one in fact the spirits rattled tambourines, moved tables, and said just what the Graphic wanted them to say. Strangely enough, however, there is no announcement that Mr. Peccharara won the $10,000 offered by Ghost Stories Magazine. Ghost Stories Magazine and the New York Evening Graphic are both Macfadden publications.

In the long run such journalism must be its own reward. A censorship which could destroy Bernarr Macfadden would be more likely to destroy many a brave pioneer of social idealism. We must trust to a growing intelligence in the reading public to demand more accurate, honest news.


However, Valentino&rsquos &ldquopretty boy&rdquo image was considered to be effeminate and because of this, it resulted in a lot of speculation and conjecture about Valentino&rsquos perceived homosexuality. These stories surrounded the star throughout his career. Valentino had been married twice, to Jean Acker and Natacha Rambova but the press speculated as to whether these were, in fact, &ldquolavender marriages&rdquo to hide Valentino&rsquos homosexuality. Questions about his sexuality are said to have deeply hurt Valentino and he actively confronted journalists who published stories propagating these rumours.

In what turned out to be his last movie, The Son of the Sheik, Valentino received a favourable review from the New York Times which also added that the &ldquodesert rough stuff and bully fights&rdquo contained in the movie left &ldquono doubt about his masculinity.&rdquo An indication of Valentino&rsquos popularity and allure among his female fans was demonstrated following the premiere of the Son of the Sheik in New York. Despite temperatures close to 100 degrees, thousands of his fans swarmed around the movie theatre hoping to catch a glimpse of the star. When he was leaving, Valentino was mobbed and in the frenzy had his clothes ripped off by women overcome by desire!

Just two weeks later and at the height of his fame, Valentino took ill and collapsed in his suite at the Ambassador Hotel in New York before being rushed to hospital. After an initial diagnosis of appendicitis, it was later discovered that Valentino was suffering from perforated ulcers mimicking appendicitis, a condition which became known as &ldquoValentino&rsquos Syndrome&rdquo which was named after the famous star. As Valentino&rsquos condition worsened, thousands of his fans formed a vigil outside of the hospital and anxiously awaited news. Unfortunately, Valentino&rsquos condition continued to deteriorate and he died on August 23, 1926, aged just 31.

News of Valentino&rsquos death was greeted with a kind of mass hysteria, where a number of heartbroken women were so devastated that they committed suicide. It was said that two women attempted to take their lives outside of the hospital where Valentino died, while a woman in London drank poison while holding a picture of Valentino. A young man who was reported to have committed suicide was found lying on a bed which was covered with photos of Valentino.

The day after Valentino died, an estimated 100,000 people gathered outside of the Frank Campbell Funeral Home in New York where the star&rsquos body was reposing. It was reported that the crowds stretched for eleven blocks. In the chaotic scenes that followed, some people tried to force their way into the funeral home, smashing windows and sparking a day-long riot. More than 100 mounted officers and NYPD Police Reserve had to be called in to restore law and order.

Actress Pola Negri who claimed to be Valentino&rsquos fiancée. wikipedia

Inside the funeral home, actress Pola Negri, who claimed to be Valentino&rsquos fiancée and that the two were due to be married, was visibly devastated. Reportedly Negri threw herself across Valentino&rsquos open coffin in despair and fainted. Supposedly this action sparked off more chaos among the already hysterical crowd outside, who broke through a huge plate glass window. Afterwards, Negri was said to shriek continuously in front of the press, while making declarations about her love for the late star: &ldquoMy love for Valentino was the greatest love of my life. I loved him not as one artist loves another, but as a woman loves a man.&rdquo


7. He Was Homeless

Valentino’s first few months in America weren’t exactly a dream. In fact, they were a downright nightmare. Because he couldn’t hold down a job or get an income, the aspiring actor often lived on the streets, and survived by begging for food at the restaurant that had just fired him. Now that’s gotta be a new low.

Wikimedia Commons

HOLLYWOODLAND

Once the late silent film star Rudolph Valentino had been interred and the obsequies completed, the thought of how the actor would be remembered was foremost in everyone’s mind. The city of Chicago, home of the infamous “Pink Powder Puffs” editorial, formed the Rudolph Valentino Memorial Association in the hopes of erecting a remembrance of some kind. The Arts Association of Hollywood proposed a monument that would be the forerunner of a series of memorials to pioneers of the film industry. A committee of local Italians, which included director Robert Vignola, Silvano Balboni, and his wife, screenwriter June Mathis, suggested the construction of an Italian park on Hollywood Boulevard with a memorial theater and a large statue of Valentino as its central feature. Despite those grandiose projects, no memorials materialized—and it slowly became apparent that the same would happen with Valentino’s final resting place.

Valentino and his manager, George Ullman

After Valentino’s death, a decision could not be made as to where the actor’s body would finally rest. George Ullman, Valentino’s manager, was confident that Alberto, the actor’s brother and the person who would have the final say, would consent to interring the body in Hollywood. The Mayor of Castellaneta, Valentino’s birthplace, cabled Alberto imploring him to have the actor’s body returned there for burial with ceremony. Valentino’s sister Maria, who at first wanted her brother brought back to Italy, later concurred with the Hollywood delegation, thanks in part to the suggestion of William Randolph Hearst. To solve the problem—at least temporarily—June Mathis offered her own crypt at Hollywood Cemetery’s Cathedral Mausoleum until an appropriate memorial could be decided upon or built.

A movement was started for the erection of a worthy memorial that women admirers wanted to be “everlasting.” Ullman and Joseph Schenck, head of United Artists and Valentino’s boss, formed a committee called the Valentino Memorial Fund with other producers, Carl Laemmle, M.C. Levee and John W. Considine Jr. Appeals were made to the public to donate one dollar each memorial societies were organized in New York and Chicago, and were expected to extend to other cities around the world. Ullman sent out one-thousand letters to members of the film colony in which he expressed his feelings that the “success of the memorial will be a tribute not only to Rudolph Valentino, but to the motion picture industry, as a whole.”

The outlook appeared to be a success. Letters deploring the death of Valentino poured in by the thousands. Certain that sufficient contributions would be forthcoming, the committee authorized architects to submit designs for a mausoleum, with an estimated cost placed at $10,000.

However, the public response was not what they anticipated. A check for $500 came from an English noble woman. Other checks for $100 came from actors Ernest Torrence and William S. Hart. From the one-thousand letters that Ullman sent, fewer than a half-dozen replies were received. The committee collected approximately $2,500, half of which came from America the major donations came from England, Germany, Italy, India, and South America.

Valentino and June Mathis

In the meantime, June Mathis died in New York (less than a year later). When Valentino’s body was placed in her crypt, Mathis had said, “You many sleep here Rudy, until I die.” Now that time had come a decision had to be made about what to do with Valentino’s remains. As a good-will gesture, Silvano Balboni offered to have Valentino’s casket moved to his crypt next to Mathis’ until the Valentino estate ironed out its problems. On August 8, 1927, cemetery workers entered the Cathedral Mausoleum and, what proved to be one last time, moved Valentino’s remains to the adjoining crypt, number 1205.

Artist’s conception of the planned tomb for Rudolph Valentino at Hollywood Cemetery.

Artist’s conception of the front and overview of Valentino’s planned memorial.

While public memorials were still being considered, Valentino’s body lay in a borrowed tomb. Photoplay magazine published plans for a proposed tomb by architect Matlock Price in the November 1926 issue. The design incorporated an exedra, a half-circle of columns standing serene and dignified against a dark background and curving towards the observer. Within that half-circle, a “heroic” bronze figure of Valentino as the Sheik, seated on an Arabian horse, towered above the onlooker. Following the curve of the exedra, a broad bench sat under two pergolas running across the ends of the terrace, which was paved with red Spanish tile.

These plans also went nowhere, and a permanent mausoleum for Valentino never materialized. Ullman hoped that the City of Los Angeles would provide the plot for a grave at Hollywood Cemetery and the $2,500 that was collected could be used for a bust of the actor to rest on a granite stand.

The statue “Aspiration,” dedicated to Valentino’s memory, shortly after it was dedicated. It still stands today in De Longpre Park.

Instead, in May 1930, a memorial to Valentino was finally erected, not at Hollywood Cemetery, but in De Longpre Park in central Hollywood the only one of its kind dedicated to an actor in the film capitol.

Ironically, fans still flocked to his crypt (reportedly, Valentino is still one of the most visited grace sites today). But not always reverently. Once, a marble pedestal that stood before his crypt was overturned and broken to bits. Some of the pieces were carried away by souvenir hunters. Tourists would come, gaze at Valentino’s marker, then break flowers from the baskets and hide them in their clothing, as keepsakes.

Some attempts to remember Valentino have been positive. In London, a roof garden at the Italian Hospital was opened and dedicated to Valentino. Paid for by British money, it was the first attempt to perpetrate Valentino’s memory.

Finally, in April 1934, after Valentino’s body lay in a borrowed tomb for almost eight years, Silvano Balboni sold the crypt to Alberto. Balboni returned to Italy and never returned to the United States Valentino now had his own resting place.

An early memorial to Valentino at his gravesite.

One wonder’s why the funds for the hoped-for resting place did not happen after Valentino’s death. The actor’s estate at the time could not cover the cost it would not be fluid for several years. But certainly, his fellow actors who called him “friend,” could have pooled their money, or, any one of them could have paid the cost on their own. It was a mystery then and remains so today.

Nevertheless, every year on August 23rd at 12:10 p.m. (the time that Valentino died in New York), scores of fans gather near his crypt at Hollywood Forever Cemetery to remember the man. Regardless of the circus atmosphere that once prevailed at these events during the past ninety years, whether it be reports of the actor’s ghost or the appearance of mysterious, dark-veiled women, it is hoped that somehow the spirit of Rudolph Valentino, the “Great Lover,” now rests in peace.

If you are in the Los Angeles-Hollywood area on Wednesday, August 23, 2017, drop by the Rudolph Valentino Memorial at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The service is held at the Cathedral Mausoleum and begins at 12:10 p.m. the time of Valentino’s death in New York. Arrive early as seats go quickly. See you there.

This entry was posted on Saturday, August 19th, 2017 at 2:36 am and is filed under Book/Film News, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Rudolph Valentino. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.


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Donis Casey

DONIS CASEY was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A third generation Oklahoman, she and her siblings grew up among their aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents and great-grandparents on farms and in small towns, where they learned the love of family and independent spirit that characterizes the population of that pioneering state. Donis graduated from the University of Tulsa with a degree in English, and earned a Master’s degree in Library Science from Oklahoma University. After teaching school for a short time, she enjoyed a career as an academic librarian, working for many years at the University of Oklahoma and at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.

Donis left academia in 1988 to start a Scottish import gift shop in downtown Tempe. After more than a decade as an entrepreneur, she decided to devote herself full-time to writing. The Old Buzzard Had It Coming is her first book. For the past twenty years, Donis has lived in Tempe, AZ, with her husband.


Rudolph Valentino death funeral.

This 30 page newspaper has one column headlines on the front page that include: "2 THAT HE LOVED JOIN IN TEARS AT VALENTINO MASS" "Notables of Film World Pause for Photographs as They Enter St. Malachy's" and more. (see)

Light browning with minor spine wear, otherwise good.

wikipedia notes: On August 15, 1926, Valentino collapsed at the Hotel Ambassador in New York City. He was hospitalized at the Polyclinic in New York and underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer. The surgery went well and he seemed to be recovering when peritonitis set in and spread throughout his body. He died eight days later, at the age of 31.

A mourner pictured with the body of Rudolph Valentino at the actor's funeral
A mourner pictured with the body of Rudolph Valentino at the actor's funeral

An estimated 100,000 people lined the streets of New York City to pay their respects at his funeral, handled by the Frank Campbell Funeral Home. The event was a drama itself: actress Pola Negri collapsed in hysterics while standing over the coffin, windows were smashed as fans tried to get in, and Campbell's hired four actors to impersonate a Fascist Blackshirt honor guard, which claimed to have been sent by Benito Mussolini. It was later revealed as a planned publicity stunt.[52]

Valentino's funeral mass in New York was held at Saint Malachy's Roman Catholic Church, often called "The Actor's Chapel", as it is located on West 49th Street in the Broadway theater district, and has a long association with show business figures.

After the body was taken by train across the country, a second funeral was held on the West Coast, at the Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. Valentino had no final burial arrangements and his friend June Mathis offered her crypt for him in what she thought would be a temporary solution. However, she died the following year and Valentino was placed in the adjoining crypt. The two are still interred side by side in adjoining crypts at the Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery (now the Hollywood Forever Cemetery) in Hollywood, California.


Watch the video: Hazbin Hotel - Velvet is dying and Valentino divorces Vox (June 2022).


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