Unlucky Star: The Brief, Bombastic Life of Rudolph Valentino

The sudden dying in 1926 of silent display screen celebrity Rudolph Valentino brought about an outpouring of anguish. In each Europe and America, women reportedly killed or attempted to kill themselves over the information. His girlfriend, the display screen vamp Pola Negri, dramatically collapsed on so many events it broken her profession, whereas his ex-wife Jean Acker launched a commemorative song to money in on his dying. To at the present time, Valentino’s ghost is alleged to hang-out countless tourist spots in Los Angeles.

However misplaced within the legend was the actual man. Within the even-handed, meticulously researched Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino, creator Emily W. Leider painstakingly extracts the documented info from a life story mired in delusion. Regardless of her nearly educational reserve, the drama and tragedy of Valentino’s temporary life burst via the pages as Leider exposes Valentino as an imaginative, naïve dreamer thrust into a task he couldn’t management.

If Leider takes an excessive amount of time on Valentino’s filmography, maybe that’s becoming for a person whose celluloid presence finally overpowered his sense of self. “I really feel,” Valentino as soon as mentioned, “fairly unreal.”

A Born Dreamer

Rodolfo Guglielmi was born Could 6, 1895, within the southern Italian city of Castellaneta. Whereas the hyperactive, good-looking little boy revered and feared his strict veterinarian father, Giovanni, he worshipped his dreamy, completed French-born mom, Gabriella.

The younger Valentino was nicknamed “Mercury,” after the wing-footed trickster god. In accordance with Leider, when not using horses, taming donkeys and exploring historic caves, Rodolfo was plotting his future exploits. “I grew to become to myself an imaginary determine of nice excellence, daring and glamour,” he later recalled.

These idyllic days ended abruptly in 1906, when his father died of malaria. Valentino’s goth-tinged rebelliousness grew to become a priority to his correct Catholic household, who despatched him to a boarding faculty after which agricultural school. At 17, the starry-eyed Rodolfo escaped to Paris and Monte Carlo, the place he grew to become a rogue, studying the scandalous tango, mingling with excessive society, and dropping each penny he had.

Only a Gigolo

In 1913, the Guglielmis determined Rodolfo wanted a contemporary begin. Though Leider is just too cautious a biographer to state it outright, Valentino comes off as a quite silly, careless man whose desires of grandeur far outweighed his widespread sense. She appears to view the charming Valentino with the rose-colored glasses of a fan, giving him the advantage of the doubt very like his household and pals would all through his life.

That mentioned, the impression of Valentino as impetuous was borne out by his first few months in America. Valentino was despatched aboard the S.S. Cleveland, outfitted with $4,000 and calling playing cards stamped with a pretend household crest. On the ship, he grew to become a well-liked dancing accomplice. This talent would save him in New York Metropolis, when he discovered himself sleeping on benches and washing beneath a hearth hydrant after shortly blowing his inheritance.

In accordance with Leider, Valentino quickly discovered work as a taxi dancer on the glamorous Maxim’s Restaurant-Cabaret. Right here, the sleek Valentino danced with upper-class girls for cash. He additionally gave non-public classes, which maybe included intercourse—a truth Leider neither confirms nor denies.

Valentino quickly moved up the ranks from “lounge lizard” to exhibition dancer. However he nonetheless made the nightclub rounds, and it was on a ballroom flooring that he met Blanca de Saulles—the unhappily married spouse of the blue-blooded playboy Jack De Saulles. The 2 developed a detailed relationship, although it’s not clear if it was ever sexual.

In 1916, Blanca, fed up with Jack’s well-known indiscretions, sued for divorce and custody of their son. Desirous to be a hero, Valentino publicly testified towards Jack in court docket, claiming that the playboy and Valentino’s ex-dancing accomplice Joan Sawyer had been concerned in a long-term affair. (As proof, Valentino claimed to have seen Sawyer’s douche bag when on a visit with the couple.)

It seems the well-connected Jack then determined to hunt revenge. On September 5, 1916, Valentino was arrested at a brothel on Seventh Avenue, accused of being a pimp. He was jailed, and pilloried within the press, which taunted him as a corset-wearing, “bogus depend or marquis.”

Fees had been quickly dropped, and Valentino high-tailed it to the West Coast. It was a fortuitous escape—in August 1917, Blanca murdered Jack throughout a custody dispute.

From Bettmann/Getty Photographs.

The Nice Lover

In 1917, Valentino arrived in Los Angeles, decided to make it within the film enterprise. Quickly, his otherworldly stare—which a pal claimed was the results of near-sightedness—and animal magnetism enraptured Hollywood.

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2021/09/rudolph-valentino-biography-death | Unfortunate Star: The Temporary, Bombastic Lifetime of Rudolph Valentino


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