Of all the silent film stars Valentino is my absolute favorite.
Rudolph Valentino was born in Italy on May 6, 1895 and was a popular 1920’s silent film actor. He was the first sex symbol of the movies. He started his film career playing villains or “heavies” as they were known then. He would go on to play the leading man in 14 films. The film The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) is the movie that turned him into a star. His tango scene is truly amazing. In a time before movies had sound, actors and actresses had to use facial expressions to convey what they were feeling. Valentino did this flawlessly. He could be menacing or show humor or passion without saying a word.
Some of Valentino’s movies include: Camille (1921), Beyond the Rocks (1922), Blood and Sand (1922), The Young Raja (1922), Monsieur Beaucaire (1924) and a Sainted Devil (1924) just to name of a few.
The Sheik (1921) and The Son of the Sheik (1926) are the movies most associated with Valentino. After The Sheik, Valentino was a sensation and was being called “The Latin Lover”. As you can see from the pictures below he was smoldering.
Some of my favorite Valentino movies are The Conquering Power (1921), Cobra (1925), The Eagle (1925) and his last film The Son of the Sheik (1926). In Cobra Valentino plays a man who has a weakness for women. Nita Naldi plays a vamp after Valentino’s character who is married to his best friend. In The Eagle Valentino plays a Russian bandit like a Robin Hood figure who falls in love with Vilma Banky’s character.
Valentino was an excellent dancer and in 1922 with wife Natacha Rambova went on the Mineralava dance tour. Valentino sponsored Mineralava beauty products while on the tour. He and his wife performed in 88 cities. In each city a beauty pageant was held where Valentino was a judge.
Something you might not know about Valentino is a book of his poetry was published in 1923 called Day Dreams. It’s very impressive. The book pops up on EBay from time to time.
Well not exactly. In 1924 Valentino made two recordings where he sings Kashmiri and El Relicario. They were released after his death and are still in existence today.
The Death of a Superstar
On August 23, 1926 Valentino died at the age of 31. There was an unpresidented outpouring of grief. Approximately 100,000 people lined up to see his body lying in state at Campbell’s Funeral Church in New York. The crowds rioted outside trying to get in and broke glass. Hundreds of police had to be called out. It is said that some women even fainted. Valentino had two funerals. One being held in New York on August 30th at St. Malachy’s Church. The second was held in Beverly Hills on September 7th at The Church of the Good Shepherd. It was the biggest funeral Hollywood had ever seen. Valentino is buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery (formally Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery) in the Cathedral Mausoleum in crypt #1205.
Whether you are new or have been a Valentino fan for some time here are two amazing links:
Donna Hill is an expert on Valentino and the author of the book Rudolph Valentino: The Silent Idol His Life in Photographs (it’s on my wish list). Her website Falcon Lair has a wealth of information. She also puts out a lovely Valentino calendar each year. Thank you Donna for your kindness and generosity.
We Never Forget Rudolph Valentino Yahoo Group. A big thank you to Tracy Terhune for setting up this wonderful group for fans to come and share. Tracy is the author of Valentino Forever A History of the Valentino Memorial Services.
We Never Forget Rudolph Valentino is now on FB. Join the group with other Valentino fans.