//
you're reading...
Daily History

August 23 1926 Rudolph Valentino dies


On August 23rd 1926, the death of silent-screen idol Rudolph Valentino, at the age of 31, sent his fans into a hysterical state of mass mourning. In his brief film career, the Italian-born actor established a reputation as the archetypal screen lover.

After his death from a ruptured ulcer was announced, dozens of suicide attempts were reported, and the actress Pola Negri–Valentino’s most recent lover–was said to be inconsolable.

Tens of thousands of people paid tribute at his open coffin in New York City, and 100,000 mourners lined the streets outside the church where funeral services were held. Valentino’s body then travelled by train to Hollywood, where he was laid to rest after another funeral.

Rudolph Valentino was born Rodolfo Guglielmi in Castellaneta, Italy, in 1895. He immigrated to the United States in 1913 and worked as a gardener, dishwasher, waiter, and gigolo before building a minor career as a vaudeville dancer. In 1917, he went to Hollywood and appeared as a dancer in the movie Alimony.

Valentino became known to casting directors as a reliable Latin villain type, and he appeared in a series of small parts before winning a leading role in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921).

The film, which featured a memorable scene of Valentino dancing the tango, made the rakishly handsome Italian an overnight sensation. His popularity soared with romantic dramas such as The Sheik (1921), Blood and Sand (1922), and The Eagle (1925).

Valentino was Hollywood’s first male sex symbol, and millions of female fans idolised him as the “Great Lover.” His personal life was often stormy, and after two failed marriages he began dating the sexy Polish actress Pola Negri in 1926.

Shortly after his final film, The Son of the Sheik, opened, in August 1926, he was hospitalised in New York because of a ruptured ulcer. Fans stood in a teary-eyed vigil outside Polyclinic Hospital for a week, but shortly after 12 p.m. on August 23 he succumbed to infection.

Valentino lay in state for several days at Frank E. Campbell’s funeral home at Broadway and 66th St., and thousands of mourners rioted, smashed windows, and fought with police to get a glimpse of the deceased star. Standing guard by the coffin were four Fascists, allegedly sent by Italian leader Benito Mussolini but in fact hired by Frank Campbell’s press agent.

On August 30, a funeral was held at St. Malachy’s Church on W. 49th St., and a number of Hollywood notables turned out, among them Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Gloria Swanson. Pola Negri appointed herself chief mourner and obligingly fainted for photographers several times between the train station and the chapel.

She collapsed in a dead faint again beside Valentino’s bier, where she had installed a massive flower arrangement that spelled out the word POLA.

Valentino’s body was shipped to Hollywood, where another funeral was held for him at the Church of the Good Shepherd on September 14. He then was finally laid to rest in a crypt donated by his friend June Mathis in Hollywood Memorial Park.

Each year on the anniversary of his death, a mysterious “Lady in Black” appeared at his tomb and left a single red rose. She was later joined by other, as many as a dozen, “Ladies in Black.”

The identity of the original Lady in Black is disputed, but the most convincing claimant is Ditra Flame, who said that Valentino visited her in the hospital when she was deathly ill at age 14, bringing her a red rose. Flame said she kept up her annual pilgrimage for three decades and then abandoned the practice when multiple imitators started showing up.

This Day In History

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “August 23 1926 Rudolph Valentino dies

  1. My grandma .. didn’t talk or show much when it was about her feelings – but she loved this man *smile – Great facts.

    Posted by viveka | August 24, 2012, 04:58
  2. never saw his films but for some reason always fely very sad about his tragic death. cheers for posting

    Posted by pdlyons | August 30, 2012, 03:50
  3. Hi
    Did Valentino ever come to Australia? I have two photo’s ..one of him with his wife and one with him in womens clothes that apparently upset a priest. I found them in my Great Aunties pics and they were dancers and thought they might have been in some kind of show with him. Any help would be great 🙂
    Jane

    Posted by Jane | September 30, 2012, 22:19

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 15,358 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

Confronting Russia will deter China, says Japanese defense minister

Confronting Russia will deter China, says Japanese defense minister

A strong international response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine is critical to deterring China from embarking on territorial conquests in Taiwan or the South China Sea, said Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi. “China has been carefully observing the current situation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and they are paying particularly close attention to what […]

How Russia-Ukraine copied Finland war without lessons

How Russia-Ukraine copied Finland war without lessons

Finland is a unique country with a distinct language and culture. However, its possession was always contested between Sweden and Russia. Though Finland mainly remained under Swedish control in 1809, it was annexed by Russia. Using the end of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution in late 1917, Finland declared its independence from the […]

China plans system to take out asteroids hurtling toward earth

China plans system to take out asteroids hurtling toward earth

China plans to develop a system for monitoring asteroids that pose a threat to earth, highlighting the nation’s growing ambitions for its space program. The country will also explore ways for taking out asteroids that endanger the planet, Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the China National Space Administration, said in a TV interview, according to […]

Russia-Japan tensions flare anew over the Kurils

Russia-Japan tensions flare anew over the Kurils

Formally, Russia is not at war with Ukraine, where it claims to be conducting a so-called “special military operation.” But with Japan, given that Moscow and Tokyo never signed a peace treaty officially ending World War II, the two Asian neighbors remain technically at war. And after Japan recently described four Kuril islands whose ownership […]

Solomon Islands has Washington in state of alarm after a security pact with China

Solomon Islands has Washington in state of alarm after a security pact with  China

A tiny island chain in the South Pacific has Western governments scrambling after it agreed to a security pact with China that the United States and its allies fear could enhance Beijing’s military power in this strategically important region.  The deal between China and the Solomon Islands, a nation of 700,000 people that had deadly […]

China says its ‘future helicopters’ will be equipped with ground-breaking technologies

China says its ‘future helicopters’ will be equipped with ground-breaking technologies

Militaries all around the world are looking at integrating modern technology into their military weapons. China, as usual, appears to be making serious efforts to prepare for the future battleground, this time, with plans to include artificial intelligence and high-speed features in its future choppers. During a recent public lecture, a prominent Chinese military helicopter […]

Taiwan news channel accidentally reports China has invaded

Taiwan news channel accidentally reports China has invaded

A Taiwanese news channel Chinese Television System (CTS) accidentally reported on Wednesday that the Chinese military had invaded the island, setting off what it called a “public panic” before the error was resolved. According to Taiwan News, screenshots from the Wednesday CTS broadcast showed a news chyron that read “Have we begun war with China?” […]

Hypersonic weapons raise risk of nuclear war

Hypersonic weapons raise risk of nuclear war

Russia used a hypersonic missile against a Ukrainian arms depot in the western part of the country on March 18, 2022. That might sound scary, but the technology the Russians used is not particularly advanced. However, next-generation hypersonic missiles that Russia, China and the US are developing do pose a significant threat to national and […]

Ukraine: One Chessboard, One Master  

Ukraine: One Chessboard, One Master  

The United States left Afghanistan on 30 August 2021. Most people thought that the USA was running away. However, they were leaving Afghanistan in a planned manner, only for an untrained eye it looked like the US was running away. So why were they leaving. The idea was brilliant. With the Taliban at the helm […]

China is Russia’s most powerful weapon for disinformation warfare

China is Russia’s most powerful weapon for disinformation warfare

Russian propaganda about the war in Ukraine cratered last month after Russian state news channels were blocked in Europe and restricted globally. But in recent weeks, China has emerged as a potent outlet for Kremlin disinformation, researchers say, portraying Ukraine and NATO as the aggressors and sharing false claims about neo-Nazi control of the Ukrainian […]

%d bloggers like this: