Rudolph Valentino

May 6, 1895 – August 23, 1926

Before Michael Jackson. Before Elvis. Before Marilyn. There was Valentino.

Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguella, known to the world as “Rudolph Valentino” was an Italian-born silent film actor who was an international sex symbol and one of the first Hollywood superstars. And his life and career had all the trappings of a Hollywood superstar: getting caught up in a murder in New York, fleeing to Los Angeles and stumbling into the motion picture industry, marrying too many women at the same time. You know, the standard tropes. His exotic good looks and dancing ability enabled him to play a range of characters from a sheik in 1921’s The Sheik to a Spanish bullfighter in 1922’s Blood and Sand. He worked predominantly with Famous Players-Laskey corporation (which would eventually become Paramount Pictures) and famously went on strike against them to earn a better wage more comparable to his contemporaries as well as creative control over his projects. Despite the tumultuous relationship, Valentino and Famous Players enjoyed critical successes and his fan-base  – of mostly women – grew. His critics debated whether he was “masculine” enough, which was something that he couldn’t stand. He even challenged a Chicago Tribune writer to a boxing match to prove his manliness. At the age of 31, Valentino was admitted to a New York hospital where he was diagnosed with peritonitis (the same thing that killed Houdini a few months later – 1926 was a bad year for swollen abdomens apparently) and pleurisy. After more than a week in the hospital, Rudolph Valentino died. His funeral set off riots and caused despondent fans to commit suicide. It was the original celebrity death circus. His body was moved to California and he was temporarily buried in a friend’s crypt that she had bought for her husband. Fast forward almost a century and he’s still there. His grave is one of the most visited graves in the world – most notably by a fabled and timeless “woman in black” who regularly pays her respects with a single rose.

Burial

Hollywood Forever Cemetery – Los Angeles, CA

Specific Location

Cathedral Mausoleum, Crypt #1205 – Enter the mausoleum and take the second left. Walk to the end of this corridor and take the last right. Valentino is buried at the end of this corridor on your left, 3 rows up, next to the stained-glass window.

 

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