On August 14, 1926 Rudolph Valentino was rushed to Polyclinic Hospital with severe abdominal pains. He was suffering from appendicitis and perforated gastric ulcers. A double operation was performed. The hospital issued daily updates on Valentino and a crowd of fans gathered outside. By all accounts he was doing better. However, on August 20th he took a turn for the worse. An infection had set in and there were no antibiotics at this time.
On August 23, 1926 at 12:10 p.m. at the age of thirty-one, Valentino was dead in his prime. The outpouring of shock and grief was something that had never been seen before. Thousands of mourners lined up outside Campbell’s Funeral Church just to glimpse the actor one last time. Riots broke out and windows were smashed. Police were called in to control the crowds.
Valentino had two funerals. One was at St. Malachy’s Church in New York on August 30th and one at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills on September 7th. Both were attended by some of Hollywood’s elite such as Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and John Barrymore. The only way into Valentino’s funeral was by invitation.
No one appeared to be more grief stricken than silent film actress Pola Negri who was said to be dating the actor when he died. With all her crying and fainting no one can be sure if it was genuine or for show.
June Mathis had purchased two mausoleum vaults at Hollywood Memorial Park (now Hollywood Forever) for her husband and herself. Because there was not a plan in place for Valentino’s burial she temporarily donated vault #1205. He is still at rest there today.
This post is part of the 2nd Annual Rudolph Valentino Blogathon. Click here to see the other wonderful posts.