wordpress visitor

Valentino’s Lady in Black legend grows

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Aug 10th, 2013
2013
Aug 10

RUDOLPH VALENTINO

Valentino’s Lady in Black legend grows

.

ladyinblack1

.

By Allan R. Ellenberger

.

One of the legends that have developed after the death of silent screen idol, Rudolph Valentino, was about the mysterious Lady in Black. Many have claimed to be her and others have donned the black veil and dress in their memory over the past eighty-seven years. Just a few that have either laid claim or have been credited to the legend are Pola Negri, Marion Benda, Jean Acker, Estrellita del Regil and her mother Anna, and the one who is most accepted to be the original Lady in Black, Ditra Flame.

.

Another woman who also has a claim on the legend is one that most Valentino fans probably have never heard of. Her name is Florence Harrison. Florence’s story is as mysterious as the woman she was alleged to be.

.

Harrison’s claim to the title was not known until several years after her death and was made by a man who was her son. This is what is known. Several years ago a copy of the book, Valentino As I Knew Him, written by the actor’s friend and manager, S. George Ullman, surfaced with the following inscription:

.

“In loving memory of Rodolpho Valentino and my beautiful mother, Florence Marie Rittenhouse (Marie Valentino) who died in Los Angeles of cancer on March 7, 1947. May my beautiful mother and the beautiful memory of her that I will cherish to my grave and Valentino, may they both rest in peace in each other’s arms! My mother was the original ‘Woman in Black’ and quit when others tried to copy her and make a cheap publicity stunt out of it. T. G. (Tony Guglielmi).”

.

There was a Florence Marie Rittenhouse who was born in Pennsylvania in 1900 to Charles and Lillian Rittenhouse. A professional pianist, Florence married Samuel Harrison and moved to Washington D.C. There the Harrison’s had three children: Warren, Thelma and David. One day in 1934, according to family lore, Florence and her eleven year-old son David, left Washington and moved to California, never seeing her family again. Nothing more is known about Florence until her death from breast cancer on March 7, 1947 at the County General Hospital in Los Angeles.

.

As for David, he enlisted in the Army in 1942. The family also claims that he had mental health problems and was apparently not able to live on his own. Were those problems a result of his stint in the Army, since they never would have inducted him if they were present before?

.

The Tony Guglielmi (Guglielmi was Valentino’s real name) that signed the book was most likely Florence’s son, David Harrison, but why would he sign it that way? He implies that his mother was married to the actor by calling her “Marie Valentino,” so did David, who was born in 1923, believe that he was Valentino’s son? Was Florence one of the many anonymous Lady’s in Black that appeared at Valentino’s memorial over the years? Or were these the wild delusions of a mentally disturbed young man? All we have is a brief inscription on the title page of biography on Rudolph Valentino, so unfortunately we may never know. Florence Harrison is just one more name added to the already crowded legend.

__________

The 86th Annual Rudolph Valentino Memorial is coming up on Friday, August 23, 2013 at 12:10 p.m. in the Cathedral Mausoleum at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Be there. To learn more about the history of the Valentino Memorial, read the book, Valentino Forever: The History of the Valentino Memorial Service by Tracy Ryan Terhune.

_________________________________________

.

One Response

  1. Anne Says:

    lMost interesting info. Allan Ellenberger, you must be busy, as we have not received recent data from you, miss you .

Leave a Comment




XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

  • RSS Feed
  • lucific