Thursday, 22 August 2013

Rudolph Valentino: 87 Years Today

He kicked every one of his contemporaries into touch. There was no other like him, and he died way too young. The above picture (taken from my book, Rudolph Valentino: Lovers, Friends & Foes) was completely un-retouched. What you see is what you got. Would he, a genuinely nice man, have made the transition to Talkies--when town-bikes such as Mary Pickford and Clara Bow, and others who had reached stardom by turning tricks, fell by the wayside? Who knows, but I think he would. At Boulogne-Billancourt some years ago I heard a brief tape-recording claimed to have been Valentino's speaking voice. Naturally it sounded very cronky, but if it really was him, he would almost certainly have become a male Garbo. Sadly, this was not to be. He fell ill, on a Sunday--very convenient for his "team", setting in process a discussion between the studio chiefs and his conniving, embezzling manager George Ullman, over whether Valentino should be allowed to live, or die. If he lived, there was danger that his equally conniving ex-wife, Natacha Rambova, would end his career by outing him as gay. If he died, the studios would mass-release all of his films--the ones where he was just an extra would have his name heading the credits--and make a packet out of him in the two weeks that it would take transporting his body from New York to Hollywood. They decided to bring in a medical team, but I was too late. These cruel people let him die. Such is the hypocrisy of the movie world.

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