Did Valentino speak from the grave?
By Allan R. Ellenberger
Rudolph Valentino. One of the most popular film actors while he lived evidently had aspirations to act on the legitimate stage once he was dead. Yes that is correct, at least according to his ex-wife, Natacha Rambova who made that revelation – and others – three months after Valentino’s death.
Rambova, whose real name was Winifred Hudnut, arrived in the states from Europe on November 25, 1926 with George B. Wehner, who claimed he was a medium associated with the American Society for Psychical Research.
The essence of Valentino’s revelations concerning his activities since his death according to Rambova and Wehner were:
Valentino was a citizen of the astral plane.
He hopes to become a legitimate actor there.
He met Enrico Caruso and heard the late tenor sing.
He visited theaters (on the worldly plane) where his films were being shown and was pleased at the “flattery” he sensed in the minds of the audience.
Everything in the theater, however, seemed strange to him as he could “see through all things.”
His wish was that his will (which left nothing to Rambova) to be carried out as executed and believes it would be done.
He made no mentions in his “communications” of Pola Negri, who had announced at his death that they had been engaged to be married.
Rambova explained this last point, apparently to her own satisfaction, by saying that Valentino only “spoke to her of significant things and subjects that mean something.”
Wehner explained that while he was at Rambova’s chateau outside Paris he received a psychic message that Valentino was going to die. Later, he said, he received a “spiritual message” from Valentino calling for Rambova. He said she replied by cable and received a reply by radio. All this was, of course, prior to the actor’s death.
While Valentino’s body was lying in state in the funeral church here, besieged by thousands of admirers, Wehner said he received a “communication” from the screen star deploring the fact that he had “recognized and spoken” to many of those who filed past his bier, but that they had not known he was “addressing” them.
Of course, Pola Negri could not let this pass without responding. She and Valentino’s brother, Alberto, both said that they were not impressed with the “message from the astral plane” which Rambova claimed she received from her late husband.
When Alberto was told of her statements, he shrugged his shoulders and said:
“I think Rudolph would have communicated with his own brother if he had any message to send from the other side. I never have heard of Wehner nor the American Society of Psychical Research, with which the medium claims to be associated. It always was our belief that someone friendly to all concerned must be the medium through which thoughts after death must be presented.”
Pola, who announced after Valentino’s death that they had been engaged to be married, stopped working at the studio long enough to say:
“There has been so much trickery in the name of spiritualism that I think only direct contact with the departed one would be convincing. In this particular instance, regarding my own recent loss, I feel that the subject is altogether too sacred to be commercialized, and I cannot help thinking that this publicity that we have been reading is unworthy of the grand dignity of the great beyond.”
Jean Acker, Valentino’s first wife also commented by saying that the actor did not believe in spirit messages and expressed the opinion that none had been received.
“Rudolph Valentino did not believe in spirit messages,” Acker said. “He was intelligent, and if he had lived the world would have heard of him in other ways. Even if such messages were received, they should have been too sacred to broadcast. “
Bess Houdini, whose magician-husband had died only a few weeks earlier, and who also fought against so-called psychic charlatans, spoke about Rambova’s claim:
“There is no doubt that Miss Rambova believes the messages to be from Valentino,” said Mrs. Houdini. “I also have received messages through mediums supposedly from Houdini, but those messages were an insult to my intelligence.”
“Would a man with the brilliant mind Houdini possessed send such an insane message as ‘I am very happy here,’ and talk about wills? No, Houdini’s message will be worthwhile, and until some medium who claims he or she is favored by our Almighty Father to communicate with our beloved dead speaks those sacred words of our compact, I will be skeptical and promptly consign all other messages to the waste basket.
“Miss Rambova also claims that only real love counts over there. What was our love, our Holy love; thirty-two years of love and devotion? Surely, if love counts, I should be blessed with the gift of speaking to my dead. Surely, if any beloved dead speaks to these mediums, who claim communications, he would say that I am waiting to hear and not the nonsense they say he speaks.
“I have in my possession a priceless heritage – from my dead – letters; letters that he wrote; fifteen, one each year, not to be opened until his death, letters that breathed love and devotion. They were read by me after we had laid him beside his beloved parents and each priceless gem read:
“Sweetheart mine, when you read this I will be at rest, at rest beside my sainted parents. Do not grieve, dear heart, I have just gone ahead and will be waiting for you – yours in life, death and ever after.”