Archive for the ‘Obituary – 2014’ Category

The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part Three

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

RUDOLPH VALENTINO

The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part Three

.

valentino3

.

For the next several days, we turn back the clocks 88 years and detail the last days of the silent film idol, Rudolph Valentino, on the corresponding day today…

.

By Allan R. Ellenberger

August 16, 2014

.

.

Monday, August 16, 1926

.

As the morning progressed, the number of fans arriving at the hospital inquiring about Valentino’s condition increased. They finally had to be turned away and the hospital doors closed. Jean Acker, who was planning a trip to Europe at the end of the week, called about Rudy’s status, saying she would visit later in the day.

.

As Rudy requested, Ullman sent a cable to Alberto and his sister Maria in Italy, and to Natacha Rambova in France. Ullman at first wanted to have Alberto return to New York, but Rudy declined. “By no means,” he insisted. “Just cable him that I am a little indisposed and will soon be all right.” When Natacha received news of Rudy’s illness, all the anger and hurt that she experienced the past year suddenly faded, and the differences that had separated them now seemed unimportant. For support, she turned to her mother and aunt, Teresa Werner, who was a favorite of Rudy’s. Both women had maintained hope that the couple would be reunited, and felt that this illness might bring them back together.

.

Rudy asked that a wire also be sent to Pola Negri. “Tell her that I’m all right,” he told Ullman. “Tell her not to worry. I’ll pull through.” When Pola received her telegram, it provided hope for her though his condition remained serious. “Mr. Valentino has been operated on for appendicitis and gastric ulcers,” the telegram read. “He is making good progress.”

.

Negri was on the set of her latest film, The Hotel Imperial, when she spoke to reporters. “I am so unhappy,” she said. “I can’t just walk off the set, for I am in the middle of a big picture. But I will go to Rudy just as soon as I can leave my business and as fast as a train will take me to New York. Poor Rudy—I had no idea he was going to get sick—he was so strong and happy when he left and he didn’t say a thing about illness in his last telegram.”

.

Rudy’s boss, Joseph Schenck, who newspapers reported had a $1,000,000 insurance policy on Valentino’s life, was still at Hiram Abrams’ summer camp in Maine when he received word of Valentino’s condition. Schenck cabled that he and Norma would leave for New York immediately.

.

After a slight relapse that afternoon, rumors spread that Valentino had died. The actor rallied, however, and briefly regained consciousness. Recognizing his nurse, Pearl Frank, a diminutive and exceedingly attractive brunette, he patted her on the cheek and said, “You’re a fine girl. You’ve been so good to me!”

.

While Valentino fought for his life, stories circulated up and down Broadway that the star had attended a “wild party” with liquor and showgirls the evening before he took ill. Barclay Warburton emphatically denied that a party of any kind had taken place. Earlier that afternoon reporters gathered at his Park Avenue apartment as Warburton confirmed that he, Rudy, and Ullman had dined at the Colony before attending George White’s Scandals. Afterwards, he said, Valentino felt “rotten” and complained of pain. Instead of continuing on, Warburton went to this apartment, and Valentino and Ullman, as far as he knew, returned to the Ambassador. He first learned of Rudy’s condition when the actor’s valet telephoned him on Sunday morning.

.

The reporters left Warburton’s apartment convinced that he was telling the truth. One newspaper, however, revealed that as they were leaving, an attractive young woman arrived, a “member of one of the popular Broadway revues.” Some have speculated that it was Ziegfeld Follies girl, and frequent Valentino date, Marion Benda.

.

Benda claimed they ended up at Club Lido on East 44th Street, where Valentino again complained of feeling unwell. Later, at Texas Guinan’s nightclub, Valentino became upset for reasons unknown to Benda, so she suggested that they leave. “He said he wasn’t in the mood for such a place,” Benda said, “although we had such a good time there only a few nights before.”

.

From there, Valentino escorted Benda to her apartment building on West 55th Street. “I saw Rudy last at the door of my apartment house,” she said. “It was about 3 o’clock in the morning. He said he was going home to bed.” However, cab driver Mike Di Calzi told the New York Evening Graphic that he picked up Valentino and Benda at her apartment at four-thirty that morning and took them to Warburton’s apartment. Frank Gross, the elevator operator in Benda’s building, reportedly confirmed that Valentino and Benda did leave her apartment around that time.

.

The question arises, how could Valentino be with Marion Benda at two nightclubs and her apartment, and be at a party at Barclay Warburton’s at the same time? Were the cab driver and elevator operator lying, or did the Evening Graphic fabricate the story, which would not be hard to believe considering their reputation. It should also be noted that no one ever came forward from Club Lido or Texas Guinan’s to confirm Valentino’s presence there that evening.

.

Regardless, a few days after Valentino’s death, Benda changed her original story. This time she stated to a New York Daily News reporter (to whom she originally told a few days earlier that she “knew nothing about it”) that they had indeed gone to Club Lido and Texas Guinan’s, but they were not alone—Warburton, dancer Frances Williams and “a girl named Hayes” accompanied them. She couldn’t remember who else was in the party.

.

Benda said that when Valentino took ill, the festivities moved to Warburton’s apartment, where Dr. Paul Durham was called. At first it was thought that Valentino was suffering from indigestion. “Perhaps he’s eaten something that disagreed with him,” Durham suggested.

.

“All he had was a ham-and-egg sandwich,” Benda replied.

.

All evidence points to a party at Warburton’s apartment that evening, but whether it was a “wild party” or not is hard to say. In 1920s vernacular, a “wild party” conjures up visions of scantily clad girls dancing on tables drinking champagne. Regardless of Prohibition, it was, in all probability, a simple gathering of a few people having drinks, listening to music and dancing, as Harry Richman stated.

.

If this were true, why would Warburton lie? He is not convincing when he insists that a party never occurred. Not only are there those who contradict him, there were none that defended him, including Ullman. And the fact that he later avoided the press on the subject generates skepticism. At this point in time, one can only speculate as to why Warburton would choose not to tell the truth. Being that it was the middle of Prohibition, perhaps he was nervous because hard liquor was served. With a well-earned reputation as a playboy, he was known for hosting riotous parties that lasted until all hours of the morning. A former neighbor, who claimed that his dusk-to-dawn soirees kept him from sleeping and forced him to move, had already sued him.

.

And what of Marion Benda? There is no question that she was acquainted with Valentino and attended Warburton’s party, but why give two different accounts to two different newspapers? If Benda were the mysterious chorine at Warburton’s apartment that day, perhaps she and Warburton reached an “agreement” that should back up the playboy’s statement. Though only speculation, perhaps the fact that she suddenly includes Warburton in the second version of her story indicates that perhaps any agreement may have gone sour, and this was her way of setting things right.

.

TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW…

.

Be sure to attend the 87th Annual Rudolph Valentino Memorial held each year at the Cathedral Mausoleum of Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm. See you there…

 __________________________________

.

Russell Johnson Obituary

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

OBITUARY

Russell Johnson, 89, ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Sage, Dies

 .

johnson-russell

.

By BRUCE WEBER
New York Times
January 16, 2014

.

Russell Johnson, an actor who made a living by often playing villains in westerns until he was cast as the Professor, the brains of a bunch of sweetly clueless, self-involved, hopelessly naïve island castaways, on the hit sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” died on Thursday at his home in Bainbridge Island, Wash. He was 89.

.

Click HERE to continue reading the New York Times obituary for Russell Johnson

__________________________

.