Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rudolph Valentino 1895-1926

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the death of Rudolph Valentino, who died in New York City at the age of 31 on August 23, 1926. We know from her letters that Louise Brooks had met Valentino, if only briefly, and had observed him at a party in New York sometime in the weeks leading up to his passing. Valentino's death made headlines around the world. An estimated 100,000 people lined the streets of New York City to pay their respects at the Frank Campbell Funeral Home. Here is a picture of one of them.

Valentino's funeral Mass in New York was held at Saint Malachy's Roman Catholic Church, often called "The Actor's Chapel." It is located on West 49th Street in the Broadway theater district, and has a long association with show business figures. In the course of my research, I discovered that Louise Brooks was reported to have been one of the actors allowed to attend the funeral. Valetino's death and funeral received extensive coverage. On August 31, the New York Morning Telegraph, in an article entitled "Pola's Sobs Heard Above Requiem Mass For Rudy As Thousands Pay Tribute," wrote that "Louise Brooks cried unashamed" at Valentino's funeral mass.

Valentino was a fine actor, and a charismatic figure. If you've never seen any of his films, like Four Horseman of the Apocalypse (1921) or The Eagle (1925), which are two of my favorites, do so!

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