Happy Birthday Rudolph Valentino
(photo James Abbe)
The thing that I suspect would surprise him the most is the continued interest in his life and in the films he made. I'm sure he'd be pleased about all the fans who celebrate his life and the respect his cinematic legacy has left behind. Not viewed merely as a sheiky type with bulging eyes and flared nostrils, Valentino finally gets a little bit of respect. His work in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Eagle and The Son of the Sheik still hold up well today. Not all his films can be deemed to be "great" films, but the three films mentioned above do fall under that category. I am sure there are many who would disagree with me and that is A-okay. They show Valentino at his absolute best. There are also sleeper hits such as Moran of the Lady Letty in which Valentino really shines.Who is seducing who?
The idealized and romaticized image of Valentino on the screen was not who he was at all. He was a human being, sometimes imperfect as we all are. He had his foibles and had some wonderful qualities. He was well loved by his friends and colleagues. He was a respected hard worker, though his motivations were often misunderstood. He was a terrible businessman and really had no idea how to manage money. He loved the good life and could also be a very soft touch and generous. He spoke several languages and also appeared to have a special rapport communicating with animals and children, which he loved.
Valentino and Kabar January 1926
He loved working on his cars, or anything mechanical to figure out how it worked. He took pride in trying to make the best films he could. He fought for his rights as a responsible actor to an extreme degree (again, poor businessman). That he dared to buck the system and fight for better roles and more control, he was as much a pioneer as Pickford and Fairbanks whom he longed to emulate as a producer of his own films. He was unlucky in love, and also lucky in love. His personal love story did not end happily, but he did have a great love in his life. He was a chameleon, a charmer and a fascinating person. He left this world far too soon.
Happy Birthday Rudolph Valentino. You've still got "it" after all these years.
Rudy and Natacha 1924 (photo by Russell Ball)