Rudolph Valentino: his name is synonymous with the classic romantic era of the old Hollywood. With his smoldering, exotic good looks he played roles that had women (and men)
swooning in dark theaters: The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Young Rajah and, his last film, Son of the Sheik.
Hoping for a chance at that great American Dream, he began his life in his new county living in shabby immigrant neighborhoods and working odd jobs. Eventually, he found success dancing in nightclubs around Broadway. Dancing led to a job in the cast of a national dance tour and the national dance tour led him to Hollywood where he started getting bit parts in the new media of movies.
Thing is, he probably would have survived if the surgeons weren't so freaked out by the fact that "Valentino" was in their midst. They were terrified "being THE ONE to cut open Valentino", that they procrastinated for several hours, dramatically worsening his condition. Technically, he may have been killed by his own celebrity.
His last words were spoken to Joseph Schenck, Chairman
of the Board of United Artists, "Don't worry Chief, I will be all
right." Last rites were given to Rudolph 10am.
People flipped. Two women attempted suicide outside the hospital. In London, another took poison in front of a photograph of Valentino, while a boy in New York died on a bed covered with Valentino photos (drama queen). Valentino's body was taken in a plain wicker basket covered in a gold cloth, to the Campbell funeral home in NYC.
A spokesperson for the Funeral Home said in a statement,
"Never before have so many persons tried to see a body. Mr. Valentino's body is not being handled any differently than that of anyone else, excepting we are giving it special attention, and putting in an exceptionally great amount of time on it. The body arrived here at about two
o'clock Monday afternoon, August 23rd, and we immediately began work on the embalming, keeping at it until the following morning, when it was placed on view until
1am." Right then, no special treatment.
"To save that idol from wear and tear, Valentino was substituted by a wax dummy for the body an artist was called in who was skilled at creating a perfect likeness. So while the real Valentino lay in peace in a cool, dark vault, the wax figure of Valentino took the brutal punishment from the hundreds of fans at the funeral parlor," was quoted by a source.
When his body was transported to Hollywood,thousands stood by to see the train pass.
In Los Angeles there was an invitation only service
at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church,
where this card was distributed.
Another 80,000 crowded in and around the Hollywood Memorial Park. Bushels of flowers were dropped from a plane overhead, as he was carried into the Cathedral Mausoleum.
The grave was owned by June Mathis, the woman
often described as having discovered him. When he died, Mathis offered her
crypt as a temporary place of entombment until the appropriate personal
mausoleum for him was built. Mathis died the following year of a heart
attack, and Valentino was moved into the vault which was intended for her
husband, which of course is where her remains remain
The most popular theory of her identity is a supposedly terminally ill young girl Valentino had visited in the hospital. They made a pact: whoever died first would visit the grave of the other every year on the anniversary. The girl got better. Valentino became ill. When he died, she kept the promise, passing on the honor to the next generation of The Lady in Black. She, as well as many well-meaning impostors, can be seen today. There is even a black lady, dressed in white. Hilarity ensues. The original Lady In Black is now identified as Anna Maria De Carrascosa - and she was killed by a bus. Her daughter, Estrillita Di Regil took on the role.
Almost daily, she would show up at the crypt, and weep. Loudly. Honestly, she was crazier than a box of frogs. I met her. Crazy fo real. Thanks to Barry Patraw for this great snap of her insane ass. In March of 2005, I paid a visit to Rudy, and found his plaque, and that of June Mathis, gone.
They are out being cleaned.
A Memorial statue by Roger Nobel Burnham was unveiled dedicated in DeLongpre Park in May of 1930. There is a bust,
and a plaque.
statues were to adorn a proper mausoleum for Valentino, but that was never to
be, and they spend eternity in a shitty little crack ho park.
The original stables still stand, on the street below. Its been made into a private home now, with the address of 10051 Cielo Drive. You can still see where they would tie up horses. Sound familiar? Sharon Tate's address was 10050.
When Valentino sent letters, he used this stationery,
and this is the silly new mailbox at
My friend Melissa adds: In the 1960's,
Valentino's home town of Castellaneta, Italy started making noise about dragging
back the remains of their number one son. Fortunately his brother
Alberto (who along with his wife are entombed
in the Abby of the Psalms) was still living, reminded Castellaneta that not
only had Rudolph become and American citizen, but had no intention of
permanently returning to his native soil, dead or alive. And that he, as
Valentino's closest living heir, would not give permission to move his brother's
body anywhere outside of his adopted homeland.
My Dad gave me an ashtray
that he got when he was a kid, from some furniture store in Detroit.