July 13, 2013

The Legend of Rudy

Women wanted him, and men wanted to be him. He was foreign, tall, dark, and handsome. He had all the makings for a leading man. However, we will never know how far his career could of gone, since his life was cut short at the young age of 31.

Rudolph Valentino was born in Castellaneta, Italy on May 6th 1895 with the long name of Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguolla to his French Mother, Marie Berta Gabrielle, and his Father, Giovanni Antonio Giuseppe Fedele Guglielmi di Valentina D'Antonguolla. He father was a veterinarian who died when Rudolph was only 11 years old. He had 3 siblings, an older brother, Alberto, an older Sister, Beatrice who died when she was a baby, and and a younger sister named Maria. He immgrated to the United States when he was 18 years old in 1913.

Broke, and working as a waiter, and a taxi dancer (is a paid dance partner in a partner dance), he tried to make his way. In 1917, Rudolph was in San Fransico acting in a play called Nobody Home. He met Norman Kerry a fellow actor who told Valentino to try movies.

Rudy enjoying the view from Falcon Lair.
In 1921 Valentino got his big break, by staring in the silent film, The Sheik directed by: George Melford. The film helped to mold Valentino's image and success. He stared in other movies such as The Eagle, and The Son of the Sheik, and The Four Horseman of The Apocalypse, and The Hooded Falcon.

Valentino bought four acres out side Hollywood in 1925, and named it Falcon Lair. He built a mansion, in the Spanish Colonial style, complete with fountains, and Italian trees. It was his refuge from Hollywood life. He furnished it with antiques from his travels all over the world. It was truly, a gentleman's paradise.

Suddenly, on August 15, 1926, Valentino collapsed at the Hotel Ambassador in New York City. He was hospitalized for appendicitis. Valentino had surgery to correct the condition. However, he later developed peritonitis which is inflammation of the tissue that lines the abdomen. His doctors were optimistic that he would recover. However, on August 21 he was stricken with a bad case of Pleurisy. In other words he developed inflammation of the pleura, the lining surrounding the lungs. On August 23rd 1926, Rudolph Valentino died and Hollywood mourned. He was only 31 years old.

Rudolph laid out at Campbell's Funeral Home.
The fans outside Campbell Funeral Home in New York.
His funeral was held at Frank Campbell Funeral Home in New York. Fans by the hundreds waited outside the funeral home to get a glimpse of Valentino. Riots broke out and there were reports of suicides of  overzealous fans. New York police lined the streets to keep order.

Valentino's friend and screenwriter of The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse and Blood and Sand, June Mathis gave Valentino her purchased crypt, at was once called Hollywood Memorial Park, now know as Hollywood Forever, to Valentino. He did not purchase any burial space before his death, partly because he was so young.

Rudolfo's crypt which once belonged to June Mathis.
Every year on the anniversary of Valentino's death, a woman draped in a black veil and dress carrying a long stemmed red rose has come to visit Valentino's crypt. People have said it's a devoted fan, or a ex fiance or lover of Valentino's, others say that it was a publicity stunt. However, it still continues today.

June Mathis happened to die a year after Valentino on July 26, 1927 from a heart attack. She was only 38 years old. She was buried along side Valentino in the adjoining crypt.

Falcon Lair

June Mathis
Rudolph's beloved Falcon Lair, was left to Valentino's family after his death. It was later sold to Doris Duke in the 1950s. Duke sold it in the 90s and it underwent major renovations, changing the charm and historical value of the estate, in my opinion. It went on sale again in 2009 for a mere, 7.95 million. You can still see some orginial buildings of Falcon Lair today, however most of it is gone.

Valentino was a legend in his time, and his name still lives on 87 years after his death. He lived a life of fame, riches, and lust. Women wanted him and men wanted to be him. He died too soon, but he will never be forgotten.

For more info visit:

Falcon Lair - The Rudolph Valentino Homepage

The Death of Rudolph Valentino - Find A Death

The Rudolph Valentino Society


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