Letters to the Editor - Brickbats & Bouquets from Hollywood Fan Magazines #3

Valentino in 1921, portrait by Donald Biddle Keyes

A Tribute to Rudolph Valentino

To the Editor:  I wish to offer just a few lines in tribute to one of the greatest masterpieces of art and humanity just a short time departed from this small material world of ours.

Life, like works of art must be seen at a distance to be appreciated.

Often one finds that a masterpiece of when viewed at close range seems to have minor defects; but when the same piece of art is viewed at a distance sufficient to blend the defects to such an extent as to cause them to disappear, then the true quality of the masterpiece becomes fully apparent.

And so it is with humanity.  Close relationship often causes disappointment due to the fact that one seems to magnify small faults to the extent of eclipsing the greater good in the person.

So we come to one just departed from this small, critical, unappreciative, slow to acknowledge, world of ours.  One about whom much praise and criticism have been voiced.

Rudolph Valentino was unmistakably a masterpiece of nature.  A true man trying to visualize the sub-conscious dreams of Us Humans and giving humanity that consolation which would have been lost from our lives had Rudolph Valentino never lived.

Millions of hearts have been thrilled-throbbed-pounded and were gripped in a riot of love’s raptures and joys, filled with joy and happiness because seeing  their sub-conscious selves placed before their eyes on the silver screen in life-like portrayal by Rudolph Valentino –had awakened that smothered feeling of youth– our real selves in rapturous, enthralling fantasies of the loves of our youth.

Lives there are a body with soul so dead; an American; just one of the mob of one hundred and fifteen odd millions of us who has not thrilled to pictures of life as portrayed in their true sense by Rudolph Valentino?

Why not give each man his just due?  To Rudolph Valentino ‘twould be the least one could do to admit his true qualities and wish him the tenderest of remembrance with a prayer for justice in judgment by his Master – “Our Creator” – and for the good he has brought into the hearts of both the masses and the hoi-polloi.

A Constant Reader, Detroit, August 23, 1926

This was published in the Detroit Free Press on August 31, 1926, rather than my usual source of a fan magazine.  Emotions of the fans ran very high with the untimely passing of Rudolph Valentino.  This example certainly is less emotional than some of the fan tributes one can read.  What struck me was the comment regarding the "critical, unappreciative, slow to acknowledge, world of ours."  While this "Constant Reader" was certainly a fan and did indulge in flights of fancy metaphor, he/she showed some perception of Valentino the man as well as the star. 
Most of the modern day fans of Valentino can very easily separate the man from the image, which might well please "Constant Reader."  There are plenty of modern era fans who still very much indulge in the fantasy of Valentino's on screen image.  Historically, he still suffers from a general lack of respect and that is a pity.  No, he was not a Barrymore, but, Valentino did have some talent and one only needs to view The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to see it early on.


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