Rudolph Valentino–The Man Behind The Image

Today is the 125 birthday of none other than Rudy Valentino! Here is my piece on his life and career, originally written for last year’s Sheik Month. Please check it out if you haven’t already–I’m proud of how this piece turned out!

Thanks to my friend Donna Hill (Rudy expert extraordinaire) for reminding me of this significant birthday!

Silent-ology

“The woman from fourteen to ninety loved him, because he made romance come riding home to her dreams. He was not the individual she craved, he was the symbol of what she craved.” —From a letter to Photoplay, January 1927

Image result for rudolph valentino portrait

What does it mean to be an icon? In the case of film actors, we assume this means their image has instant recognition. Across the world, people belonging to every culture and race will recognize Marilyn Monroe or Charlie Chaplin. Their very names have symbolism–“Chaplin” calls to mind laughter and old-time slapstick, while “Marilyn Monroe” stands for glamour and sensuality with a touch of vulnerability. (Interestingly, many people I’ve encountered who mention admiring Marilyn have never seen one of her films.)

So let us consider “Rudolph Valentino.” Of all the screen icons, his legacy is perhaps the most obscured by mythology, fantasy and cult status. The mere mention…

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