Norma Talmadge remembers Valentino


“Valentino as I Knew Him”



The following are excerpts from a three-part article that actress Norma Talmadge originally wrote (?) for the New York Daily News with the first installment appearing the day after Valentino died.


By Norma Talmadge


“I don’t believe it yet? It doesn’t seem possible – and yet it is – our great friend Rudolph Valentino is gone to a far beyond, whence he will never return.


“We all loved Rudy, we who knew him. He was sincere. After that he was brilliant, fascinating and companionable – three qualities seldom united, but I think with those who knew him best that it was his sincerity that touched us most.


“While I never worked with Rudy, I know so many who did, and I know that they always found him not only fair, but brilliant. He had the hypnotic power in acting, just as he had in life. People who played with him seemed to take fire from him. That thrilling throbbing fire of Italian youth!


“We were going to work together some day – Rudy and I. We both had determined that some day we would do Romeo and Juliet together. He wanted to awfully and so did I. And dad (Joseph Schenck, Norma’s husband) thought it would be the greatest thing in the world for both of us.


“What was he like in real life – this gallant, gentle Italian youth whom all the world in a few short years learned to love and admire?


“He was a boy – a mere kid in spirit until the very end. He was a great lover because he loved greatly. But, though his love affairs were discussed by multitudes in all corners of the earth, he himself never spoke of the women in his life, even to his closest friends.


“Of course we joked with him, as friends do, about certain young women to whom it was considered he paid marked attention. Rudy shut up tight as a clam. And only if he heard slurs on one he liked would he rise to action. Then he’d fight like the man he was. Otherwise he was usually of a calm even temperament.


“When I first met Rudy those eight years ago – it was on a studio set, and between scenes for one of my pictures which really wasn’t a bit romantic – he was exactly the same Rudolph Valentino as he was just two weeks before he died.


“Of all the men of the movies I’ve ever known – and I’ve known and played with nearly every prominent man on the screen today – Rudolph Valentino, with more cause for conceit than most of them, was positively modesty personified.


“Rudolph Valentino was the mixture of a spoiled child and a great poet.


“But he wasn’t that kind of a spoiled child who cries for the moon. Rudy was mischievous and people couldn’t help but love him for some of the little tricks he executed. We all thought him adorable at the time I’m going to tell you about now.


“He was making his last picture – how horribly sad that sounds – when my sister Constance was filming The Duchess of Buffalo at the same studio. All on both sets were attending conscientiously to duties. Suddenly – perhaps because the day was hot and the studio hotter, Rudy decided to take an hour’s recreation. But he hadn’t yet thought how to spend it.


“He walked over to Constance’s set – a snow scene which looked a great deal cooler than it really was – and became much attracted to a huge horse sleigh, in which my sister was seated. While the technical staff was getting prepared for the next shot, Rudy jumped up into the seat beside Constance and insisted that he drive her around Hollywood, much to the joy of everyone but his director and hers. “However, they had that ride around town and everybody – even the dignified directors – laughed for a good while afterward at the prank.


“I have seen Rudy and my sister Constance, dance together and everyone on the floor would stop to watch them. It was really a beautiful sight. Both of them were born to dance.


“What more can I say of Rudolph Valentino? I have already told you that he was brilliant, he was charming, companionable, fascinating, considerate, and a great lover of all humans.


“If you ask me to sum what Rudolph Valentino was, I’d say he was a kind man. Throughout all the sudden sadness of his illness, the grim tragedy of his death, I kept being reminded of that line from Hamlet:


‘There’s a Divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will!’”



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One Response to “Norma Talmadge remembers Valentino”

  1. Sue says:

    There will never be another Valentino; not ever.

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