Women are not in love with me but with the picture of me on the screen. I am merely the canvas on which women paint their dreams. --- Rudolph Valentino
Although Rudolph Valentino never lived long enough to age into his autumn years or beyond, I thought--browsing through photos of him taken throughout his life--he really did mature just as beautifully as a fine wine.
Most of us know THE Valentino of film glory. The first screen lover to break the mold of the wholesome boy next door the public had become accustomed to in early film. He was the first Latin Lover. To most--inlcuding this girl--he still, to this day, is the only Latin Lover and cannot be usurped from his position of celluloid sexuality.
But for those who aren't familiar with his life--with the stages which show a remarkable maturing and, more importantly, a very obvious growth in elegance and style--I wanted to spotlight him as my Like Fine Wine subject.
Would you believe this photo was the future Love God, the screen legend, the sachem of hearts? Yes, this is Valentino in 1913 on his way to America. Only here he was not Rudolph Valentino (later to be his screen name), but was Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina D'Antonguolla. Try saying THAT three times fast. Whew.
He was a kid alone in a big, new country. Scared. But he worked his way through life with any job he could get his hands on. Even gardening. He dreamed of having his own vineyard.
Screenwriter June Mathis, one of the most powerful women in the industry, spotted young Rudy in a nondescript role in a film. She was overwhelmedw with his dark beauty and used her influence to push for him as the lead in the anxiously awaited motion picture The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. This was a film even the top stars of motion pictures vied for. But Mathis knew her man, she knew what would make the film work. And she was right.
Valentino was cast---a virtual unknown---as Julio Desnoyers. Mathis' gut feeling paid off. A star was born.
Valentino died while on a trip to New York to promote his last film. Only thirty one years old.
Although he never had the chance to reach old age, he still matured through his short years and left the world with an unforgettable image of true beauty, potent sensuality and unmistakable class.
He died so very young, yet that brief life was just long enough to create a household name that still whispers romance and sets pulses racing...Rudolph Valentino.