Posts Tagged ‘Rudolph Valentino’

The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part Seven

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

RUDOLPH VALENTINO

The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part Seven

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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…

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

August 20, 2014

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Friday, August 20, 1926

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Press coverage of Valentino’s illness was at a minimum because of his reported recovery. The big news centered on Valentino’s friend, Barclay Warburton, Jr., who also took ill with an undisclosed illness and admitted himself into Harbor Hospital, a private sanitarium on Madison Avenue. Paul Durham, the doctor who originally treated Valentino, performed an operation described only as “minor.” By four o’clock that afternoon, Warburton was reportedly smoking a cigar and talking to his mother on the telephone. To this day, no information has been released pertaining to the nature of Warburton’s illness.

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Afterward, Durham returned to the Polyclinic to check on Rudy, whose temperature had returned to normal. The actor had another restful night, but fussed after being given orders to be still. He asked to be returned to his suite at the Ambassador but was told he would not be able to sit up for several days. Though he could take lights soups and other liquid nourishment without discomfort, he complained when Nurse Frank tried to feed him broth. “I don’t want that darned stuff,” he grumbled. Usually all it would take to get Rudy’s cooperation was a smile from the attractive Frank.

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Because of his apparent recovery, some of the press charged that Valentino’s illness was a publicity stunt rather than anything life-threatening. Even Natacha, who received a cable earlier that day from Ullman stating that Rudy was out of danger, laughed and said, “What Rudy won’t do for publicity!”

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Meeker and Joller were quick with their denials. “The man’s life was saved by an immediate operation for two perforated gastric ulcers and the removal of his appendix, which was badly inflamed,” Meeker insisted, adding that the mortality rate for this type of illness was extremely high. Critics quickly pointed out that, according to most medical experts, gastric ulcers did not develop like mushrooms, and some sort of irritant would have been necessary to induce Valentino’s sudden attack. Meeker, however, could offer no explanation. It would soon be a moot point since the worst was yet to come.

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TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW…

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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…

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The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part Six

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

RUDOLPH VALENTINO

The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part Six

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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…

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

August 19, 2014

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Thursday, August 19, 1926

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While still not out of danger, Rudy’s condition seemed much improved. The heartburn he suffered the night before appeared to have no ill effect during the day. In fact, oatmeal was now added to his daily regimen, but he grimaced and complained that it didn’t “ride so well.” His doctors were so confident about his condition that they released the following bulletin: “Mr. Valentino is making satisfactory progress and having passed his most critical period, no further bulletins will be issued unless some unexpected development occurs.”

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The actor was never told how serious his operation and illness was. In fact, four priests stopped by the hospital but were not permitted to visit, lest the sight of them convince him he was near death. Still, Rudy gave an indication of knowing the seriousness of his illness when he told Ullman, “I was pretty close that time, wasn’t I? Closer than I hope to be in the next ninety years.”

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Ullman promised to bring him a copy of The Prisoner of Chance, a novel he was reading before he took ill, but balked when the two-pack-a-day smoker asked for a cigarette. “Oof! Not yet!” Ullman replied. Rudy sent a dozen American Beauty roses he received from Pola Negri to a crippled girl in one of the free wards and appeared uninterested when told that Pola had telephoned daily. He seemed more concerned about where he would convalesce after his stay in the hospital. The summer home of Hiram Abrams in Maine was mentioned in the press, but Rudy favored a retreat in Vermont where he had vacationed a few years earlier.

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As Rudy was feeling better, Ullman accepted a list of questions for the actor from the press. Over a period of several hours, so as not to tax his strength, Rudy conveyed his responses:

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Q.—What feelings have been inspired by the hundreds of telegrams, letters and phone calls that have reached you, not only from friends, but from girls and women you have never met?

A.—I feel grateful, so grateful, and feel my inability to repay all the kindness extended to em. They have helped me mentalyl to overcome my sickness.

Q.—What was your mental reaction to a serious illness? Were you afraid of death?

A.—All I wanted was relief—anything to get rid of the terrible pain. Death would have been better than to have stood it longer.

Q.—What was your favorite screen character among the parts you played? Did you visualize any of them in your illness?

A.—The part I like best was my role in Blood and Sand. If I had died, I would have liked to be remembered as an actor by that role—I think it my greatest.

Q.—When you are able to eat full meals again, what do you want most?

A.—Food? Ugh! The thought of food is nauseating, obnoxious to me. Don’t mention it.

Q.—How are you going to pass the time when you go away to Maine to recuperate?

A.—I am going to do like the prize fighter—get into condition as soon as possible.

Q.—For whom was your first thought when you realized you were seriously ill?

A.—For my brother Alberto and my sister Maria—for them were my first thoughts.

Q.—Did the fact that your illness was prophesied by an unknown woman who called at your rooms here increase your interest in psychic phenomena?

A.—Perhaps. My interest in such matters has always been that of the average well-read person. I hope now to learn more about the subject one day.

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At the end of the day, Ullman released the following statement from Rudolph Valentino:

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“I have been deeply touched by the many telegrams, cables and letters that have come to my bedside. It is wonderful to know that I have so many friends and well-wishers both among those it has been my privilege to meet and among the loyal unknown thousands who have seen me on the screen and whom I have never seen at all. Some of the tributes that have affected me the most have come from my ‘Fans’—friends—men, women, and little children. God bless them. Indeed I feel that my recovery has been greatly advanced by the encouragement given me by everyone.”

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TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW…

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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…

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The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part Five

Monday, August 18th, 2014

RUDOLPH VALENTINO

The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part Five

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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…

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

August 18, 2014

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Wednesday, August 18, 1926

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Valentino once again had a reasonably comfortable night. Letters, flowers, and telegrams continued to flow into Polyclinic Hospital, and more operators were added to handle the influx of calls inquiring about Valentino’s status. Meeker’s report stated that the actor’s condition remained favorable. “Unless unforeseen conditions develop,” he said, “recovery is possible. Temperature 100.8. Pulse 85. Respiration 20.”

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That morning, Rudy, who was experiencing less pain, was given chicken broth and Vichy water, the first bit of nourishment since his operation. It appeared that he was feeling significantly better, but somewhat restless. “How much longer is this damn thing going to last?” he asked Ullman, who was the only person allowed to see him besides the hospital staff.

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Rudy tried to concentrate as some of the thousands of telegrams received were read to him. “That’s very nice,” was his response to Joseph Schenck’s message of sympathy. John Gilbert wrote, “Fight, Rudy, fight. Millions need you.” Other greetings arrived from John Barrymore, Bebe Daniels, Charles Chaplin and Mary Pickford. Letters and packages from unknown fans arrived daily, including more than a dozen Bibles and a copy of “Bedtime Stories for Grown-up Guys” from a young girl in Chicago.

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Natacha Rambova and her Aunt Teresa cabled their good wishes from Paris: “We pray for your recovery. Love.” That evening, Natacha arranged a séance with medium George Wehner, who claimed to have contacted Valentino’s spirit even though the actor was still very much alive. There appeared to be some confusion in the meta-physical world, since Rudy’s spirit believed that Natacha and company were in New York comforting him. Suddenly, Jenny, one of his spirit guides and the one he called for in the ambulance, took control, describing his illness and how his thoughts were directed to Natacha and his beloved Aunt Tessie.

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Pola Negri, Valentino’s self-proclaimed fiancée, called long-distance and spoke briefly to an operator. “This is Pola Negri. How is Mr. Valentino?” she asked. When assured that he was doing well, she thanked the operator and hung up. Though Pola proclaimed she would take an airplane in order to be at Rudy’s side, her employers, Famous Players-Lasky, vetoed that notion, not wanting to risk the safety of their star.

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Earlier that afternoon, reports again circulated that Valentino had died. The New York Evening Graphic issued an extra with two words in a large black headline—“Rudy Dead.” Below, in smaller and lighter type, the headline continued, “Cry Startles Film World as Sheik Rallies.” In its story, the Graphic recounted a rumor that Valentino had died, but gladly reported that it wasn’t true. The headline, however, had done its job. As one newspaper put it, “Theatrical stars, never out of bed before noon, rushed to the hospital, while others telephoned or sent messages.”

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Calls flooded the hospital switchboard at a rate of thirty-two per minute. Two additional operators were added, performing their duties “standing up.” When word reached the Astoria studios of Famous Players-Lasky, they closed for the remainder of the day before the truth was learned. The hospital staff did their best to deny the rumors and denounce its originators, but the damage had been done. In retaliation, Dr. A.A. Joller, superintendent of Polyclinic Hospital, had Jack Miley, the Graphic’s reporter and author of the piece, barred from the hospital’s press room. When ordered out, Miley said, “Who’s going to pay for this press room—Mr. Ullman, Mr. Valentino, or the United Artists?”

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Dr. Joller defended his actions and the hospital, saying “For an institution of the high character and standing that Polyclinic enjoys, to tolerate such a fake as charged by the New York Evening Graphic would be suicide and would not be permitted for one moment, actor or no actor.”

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At seven o’clock that evening the final bulletin of the day was issued. “Mr. Valentino’s condition remains favorable. Unless unforeseen complications develop, recovery is considered probable. His temperature is 100.8; respiration 20, and pulse 86.”

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For dinner, Rudy was given broth, French Vichy water, and peptonized milk. Just before midnight he was awakened by an attack of heartburn. “The doctor gave him some medicine and he went back to sleep again,” Ullman said. “The attack was not severe but it did interrupt the rest we hoped he would get.”

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TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW…

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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…

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The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part Four

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

RUDOLPH VALENTINO

The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part Four

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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…

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

August 17, 2014

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Tuesday, August 17, 1926

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According to hospital statements, Rudy passed a moderately comfortable day. Lying, for the most part, with eyes closed, he opened them only when treatment was administered. At one point Rudy smiled weakly at Ullman and declared. “I’ve gotten out of worse fixes that this. I’ll soon be on my feet again and making pictures.” As Ullman left the room, the actor summoned up enough energy to wink “good-by.”

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Rudy insisted that the mass of flowers that continued to pour into Polyclinic for him be distributed to the various wards of the hospital. Hundreds of telegrams remained unopened, waiting until he was well enough to read them himself. As he lay there, Rudy surprised Ullman by asking for a mirror. Ullman was at first hesitant because the illness had clearly left its mark on Rudy’s face. “Oh, let me have it,” Rudy insisted. “I just want to see how I look when I am sick, so that if I ever have to play the part in pictures I will know how to put on my make-up!”

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Early that morning, Joseph Schenck and Norma Talmadge arrived from Maine but were not permitted to see the actor. Schenck told reporters that millions of dollars would be lost “in the event of the star’s death.”

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The “no visitors” order, however, did not deter creative fans from attempting to see their idol. Many would-be visitors succeeded in reaching the eighth floor but were stopped before they could enter his room. Marie Markiewz, a determined young woman, demanded that she be allowed to see her “beloved.” When told that Valentino was too ill for visitors, she became hysterical and recited poetry that she scribbled down on paper. As they were forcibly ejecting her from the hospital, she sobbed loudly, “Oh, my beloved, I hope you get well.” Another admirer was a young man whose only request was to kneel at Valentino’s bedside and silent pray for his recovery.

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Meanwhile, outside the hospital, crowds watched as reporters photographed the arrival of Betty Hughes, a dancer in a Brooklyn cabaret that Valentino reportedly frequented. Accompanied by her pet monkey ‘Pepy,’ Hughes told reporters that the simian had often amused Valentino on his visits to the café. Neither she nor the monkey got any further than the first floor.

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Unfortunately, all this attention generated by Valentino’s illness seriously disrupted the hospital’s daily routine. After a consultation with Polyclinic’s administrator, Ullman hired a private detective to stand guard outside Valentino’s suite, hoping to deter further undesirables. In addition to barring the curious and overzealous flappers that tried to force their way in, all reporters, who had been maintaining a “death watch” on the first floor, were ordered out of the hospital shortly before noon.

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At seven o’clock that evening the last official bulletin of the day was issued. “There is no change in Mr. Valentino’s condition. His temperature is 103.6, respiration 26, pulse 103.” Physicians were certain that whatever transpired the next day would determine Rudy’s fate.

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TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW…

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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…

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The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part Three

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

RUDOLPH VALENTINO

The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part Three

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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…

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

August 16, 2014

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Monday, August 16, 1926

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW…

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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…

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The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part Two

Friday, August 15th, 2014

RUDOLPH VALENTINO

The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part Two

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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…

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

August 15, 2014

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Sunday, August 15, 1926

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The first reports from that morning claimed Rudy arose from bed about eleven-thirty. Still feeling poorly, he refused breakfast, and instead read the Sunday papers. Suddenly, he turned pale, clutched his abdomen and collapsed on the floor. Frank Chaplin, Rudy’s valet, called for assistance and notified Barclay Warburton. Ullman and his wife Beatrice, who were in adjoining suites, were with Valentino by the time Warburton arrived. Later in the day, Ullman gave a slightly different version of what happened:

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Mr. Valentino had gotten out of bed, but had not ordered his breakfast. This fact, it may turn out, may save his life. We were sitting around reading the Sunday papers when suddenly he groaned and pressed his hand to his side, complaining of a severe pain in the region of his abdomen. The pain passed off, but a little later he turned pale again and another pain seized him. Then I called a doctor whom I know personally. He came into the hotel and as Mr. Valentino continued to get worse we had him removed to the hospital.

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Dr. Paul Durham of the Polyclinic Hospital was a friend of both Ullman and Warburton. Within minutes of his arrival, Durham examined Rudy but waited four hours before calling an ambulance, even though his symptoms appeared to be serious. Several reasons have been given for this delay, one being that it was a hot Sunday afternoon and many physicians were out of town. Valentino’s brother, Alberto, believed that no one wanted to take responsibility for operating on Rudolph Valentino, so they waited for a “well-known surgeon, [an] experienced surgeon, to come along.”

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Still others claim that Valentino had a fear of hospitals. Dr. Arthur Bogart, who worked at Polyclinic Hospital in the late 1940s, was well acquainted with one of Valentino’s former physicians (who was still on staff at the hospital). “The doctor told me,” Bogart said, “his patient refused surgical intervention which might have saved his life, because he was terrified of surgery.”

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Whatever the reason, sometime around four-thirty, Rudy was taken by ambulance to the Polyclinic Hospital on West 50th Street. According to Ullman, in his time of need, Rudy sought assistance from his spirit guides. “I remember, too,” Ullman recalled, “as he lay in that ambulance, doubled up with pain, unconscious and en route to the hospital where he was to die, he kept repeating the word, ‘Jenny, Jenny, Jenny.’”

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Shortly after five o’clock that afternoon, Dr. Harold D. Meeker, a consulting surgeon at Polyclinic, examined Valentino. The fifty-year-old Meeker, a graduate of Columbia University, was also professor of Surgery at Polyclinic’s Medical School. When Meeker first examined Valentino, the actor was in great pain with a moderate fever, a rapid pulse and a board-like rigidity of the abdomen. Meeker’s first diagnosis was a perforated gastric ulcer, but he couldn’t rule out other possibilities at that advance stage of the illness. In his expert opinion, the only way to save Valentino’s life was to operate.

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At six-thirty the patient was rolled into the operating room. Meeker was assisted by Durham; Dr. Golden R. Battey, senior house physician of Polyclinic; and Dr. G. Randolph Manning, a specialist in diseases of the stomach. During surgery, fluid was found leaking through a round hole one centimeter in diameter in the anterior wall of Valentino’s stomach. Meeker’s report stated that the “tissue of the stomach for one and one-half centimeters immediately surrounding the perforation was necrotic. The appendix was acutely inflamed from a secondary infection…” Meeker repaired the opening in Valentino’s stomach and removed his appendix.

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Valentino was taken from the operating room at nine-thirty and transferred to a suite on the eighth floor. Suite Q, the most expensive suite in the hospital, had two luxurious rooms and a bath, a large mahogany bed and dresser, two large easy chairs, handsome rugs and several smaller chairs. It was aptly dubbed the “lucky suite” when Mary Pickford successfully convalesced there in 1912. When Rudy came out of the anesthetic at about ten o’clock, he asked, “Doctor, am I a pink puff?”

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“No indeed,” Durham replied. “You have been very brave.”

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Later, when Ullman arrived, Rudy smiled and asked, “How did I take it?”

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“You took it fine,” he replied.

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“Oh well,” Rudy whispered. “Once a sheik, always a sheik.” He then fell asleep.

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Shortly after midnight, Ullman announced that Valentino reacted very well from the operation, but warned that his condition was critical. “Indeed, we fear that it is doubtful if he can survive because the disease had progressed so far without him knowing or suspecting it,” Ullman said. “It will be several days at the very least before we can know the outcome.”

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TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW…

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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…

_______________________________________

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Please follow and like us:

The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part One

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

RUDOLPH VALENTINO

The last days of Rudolph Valentino… Part one

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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…

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

August 14, 2014

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New York City, Saturday, August 14, 1926

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The facts about Rudolph Valentino’s last night on the town vary, depending on who is telling the story and when they are telling it. In George Ullman’s book, he mentions that Rudy’s coloring was bad and urged him to return to his hotel room for a rest.”Why, I feel wonderful!” Rudy replied. “I don’t need rest.”

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Rudy spent the majority of the day at the apartment of Barclay Warburton., Jr., or “Buzzy” as his friends called him. Warburton, the grandson of department store founder John Wannamaker, was a scion of Philadelphia high society. Young, blonde, and handsome, Warburton, who was recently divorced from his first wife, occupied a bachelor apartment full of “soft lights, low couches and luxury.”

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That evening Rudy was feeling ill but insisted on going to his favorite restaurant, the Colony, for dinner with Warburton and Ullman. Adela Rogers St. Johns was visiting New York and also had rooms at the Ambassador. Rudy stopped on his way to suggest that Adela, James Quirk, and Quirk’s fiancée, actress May Allison, join their party. “But we had theater tickets and it wasn’t until the next day that we knew the serious results of that gay evening,” St. Johns later wrote.

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Dagmar Godowsky, Rudy’s old friend and former costar, was also having dinner at the Colony the evening. I saw him the night before he was taken to the hospital,” Godowsky later said, “we were at the Colony restaurant. He wasn’t a happy man.”

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After dinner, Rudy complained of indigestion, admitting to Warburton that he had been troubled with it for some time. Regardless of his discomfort, the trio attended the George White’s Scandals at the Apollo Theatre on 42nd Street. This was the eighth performance of the hit revue that Rudy had attended in the last two weeks. After the show, they met backstage with Scandals stars Frances White and Harry Richman. At some point, the group was invited to a party at the apartment of actress Lenore Ulric, but Rudy declined, saying he was not feeling well. Instead they went to Warburton’s apartment, where, later reports said, between fourteen to sixteen people gathered including Marion Benda, who was just getting out of a performance of the Ziegfeld revue “No Foolin.’”

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According to Harry Richman, there were “some drinks, music and dancing,” but Valentino declined any refreshments” because he had indigestion. Guests slowly began leaving as the night progressed until only a small group remained. “Suddenly he collapsed.” Richman said that Valentino became violently ill around one-thirty in the morning and was rushed back to the Ambassador.

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TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW…

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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…

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Alice Terry: The Girl From Old Vincennes–Part Two

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

HOLLYWOOD PROFILES

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 TERRY-2

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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PART TWO:

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Alice and Rex’s relationship was developing beyond friendship. One evening they were out walking, and Rex asked her if they had enough in common to get along. “I think we get along pretty well,” she said.

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“Well, I mean to get married.”

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Alice didn’t know what to say. She didn’t think that he really wanted to marry her, and she was uncertain how she felt, so one night she invited him over to her house for dinner. She relied on her mother and other friends to advise her what to cook, then made enough for an army. Upon eating the meal, Rex exclaimed, “This is marvelous. Why don’t we do this every day?” That was the end of the cooking.

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Soon, they were back to work together on The Conquering Power, also with Rudolph Valentino. Although he had been easy to work with in Four Horsemen, Valentino’s attitude had changed considerably. Arguments and disagreements broke out on the set on a daily basis. “Things were different,” Alice recalled. “He was dissatisfied with his part, discontented and unhappy. I always had the impression that I was playing with a volcano that might erupt at any minute.”

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After The Conquering Power was finished, Valentino left Metro to work at Famous Players-Lasky, where he made The Sheik. Richard Rowland, Metro’s president, then asked Ingram to direct Turn to the Right as a personal favor to him. The picture had a very nice part for Alice, so Ingram agreed. Rex and Alice were inseparable and very much in love. “I really don’t know when we fell in love,” Rex told her.

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“I’ve always had a crush on you,” she replied, smiling. “But then you know I’m a little nutty anyway.”

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Not long after, Rex  traveled to New York on business. While there he realized that he was lonely for Alice, so he decided to call and propose to her. But instead of giving him an answer, she evaded his question. “When are you coming back?” she asked.

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“Well, I’ll be on my way right now,” he responded.

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However, they did not  marry right away, but wanted to wait until their next picture was finished. That next picture was The Prisoner of Zenda. It was during this film that Alice became friends with Ramon Novarro; a friendship that would last the rest of her life. Novarro, who played Rupert of Hentzau, was picked by Ingram to groom into stardom.

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“Ramon was the best actor of all,” Alice claimed. “I think there was no picture that you could put him in that he couldn’t have reached to every scene. I could have seen him in almost any part outside of an American boy.”

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During production of The Prisoner of Zenda, Rex and Alice decided to marry. Without telling anyone, they were wed on Saturday, November 5, 1921, in South Pasadena at a little place called Adobe Flores. The ceremony that was officiated by Dr. W. E. Edmondson, State Chaplain of the American Legion. The following day they saw three films and were back to work on Monday. When the film was completed, they went to San Francisco for their honeymoon.

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Also appearing in The Prisoner of Zenda was that “Girl Who Was Too Beautiful,” Barbara La Marr. At first Barbara’s beauty made Alice a little uncomfortable and even a little jealous. The late Jimmy Bangley, a writer and film historian, befriended Alice briefly in the early 1980s, and he recalled her telling him about her initial reservations of Barbara La Marr. “She said she was kind of jealous,” Bangley said. “She also told me that she and Rex got married during the filming of The Prisoner of Zenda, and that no one was happier for them than Barbara.”

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Although Alice knew of Barbara’s reputation as a party girl, she drew the line at many of the rumors. Bangley asked her if some of the stories were true. “I don’t believe all these things they printed about her,” Alice insisted.

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According to her nephew, Robert Taafe, this reaction was typical of Alice. “Alice was one that did not like to relate anything to anyone she felt was inappropriate or that bordered on the offensive,” he recalled. “In fact, she would go out of her way to avoid issues like that.”

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Alice sat out Rex’s next film, Trifling Women, but was on hand for the following one which was shot on location in Florida and Cuba. Where the Pavement Ends was based on the novel “The Passion Vine” by John Russell and would again star Ramon Novarro with Alice. Before leaving, Rex talked with Metro president Marcus Loew in New York and was promised directorship of Ben-Hur, the epic the studio was preparing based on the bestselling novel by General Lew Wallace. However, once Rex and Alice were in Cuba filming, they received the unfortunate news that the directing reigns were given to Charles Brabin. Ramon Novarro recalled how Ingram reacted when he heard the news. “His reaction, when he lost it, was a hundred percent Irish—and you know what I mean.”

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.Ramon Novarro and Alice Terry in Where the Pavement Ends

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Alice remained supportive of her husband during the entire time to the point of taking over directorial reigns of Where the Pavement Ends while Rex went on a drinking binge. “There for a short period of time, Rex wasn’t in the mood,” said Robert Taafe. He was promised by Marcus Loew that he would be given Ben-Hur. It was probably Louis B. Mayer who turned it the other way.”

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It was well-known that Ingram and Mayer hated each other. Once when Mayer met Alice outside his office at MGM, he told the blue-eyed beauty, “Thank God I’m not married to him; you’re the one who has to put up with him.”

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Alice was more than happy to “put up” with her husband. She knew the best thing for him was work, so she encouraged him to do another film as soon as Where the Pavement Ends was completed. It would again star Ramon Novarro and was based on another Rafael Sabatini novel called Scaramouche. The film’s budget totaled more than one million dollars once production began on March 17, 1923—St. Patrick’s Day. Of course, Ingram, being a good Irishman, reportedly celebrated by getting drunk and continued celebrating for twelve days, shutting down production before it began.

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Variety said that in Scaramouche Alice Terry “looked wonderful and managed to score heavily.” Photoplay proclaimed that under her husband’s direction, she “has forged her way into the leading ranks of feminine stars.”

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Before work began on her next film, Alice accompanied Rex to London where she met his father, Reverend Frances Hitchcock. After what must have been a moving reunion, they traveled to Tunisia where filming began on The Arab, which again co-starred Ramon Novarro. During production, Rex and Alice fell in love with an Arab boy named Kada-Abd-el-Kader and adopted him. He eventually appeared in several Rex Ingram films but would later cause his adoptive parents untold headaches.

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.Novarro and Terry in The Arab, which was the first time

Alice did not wear her trademark blonde wig.

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Several years later, they brought the young lad to Hollywood where he began associating with fast women, and racing cars through the San Fernando Valley. It seemed that he had misrepresented himself and was really older than he had originally told them. “The entire family was incensed at it all,” remembered Robert Taafe. “Here I was their nephew, and they ignored me entirely.”

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Things go so out of hand with the “boy” that he was finally sent back to Morocco. The Ingrams told friends and the press that Kada was going to finish his schooling in his native land. Of course, this was not true, but they felt they had no other choice than to send him home. “They did not want to say at the time he had misrepresented himself,” Robert Taafe said. “In those days days those kind of things were kept quiet. Of course, today it would have been in all the tabloids.”

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Kada later became a tourist guide in Morocco and Algiers and would always tell the tourists that he was the adopted son of Rex Ingram and Alice Terry.

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NEXT TIME: In Part Three, Alice and Rex move to the French Riviera where they open a studio and make films without Louis B. Mayer’s constant supervision.

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Alice Terry: The Girl from Old Vincennes

Friday, November 8th, 2013

HOLLYWOOD PROFILE

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This is the first of four parts on the silent film actress, Alice Terry.

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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Grace, style, and an icy beauty. These qualities describe Alice Terry, one of silent film’s most enchanting and underrated actresses. Even though she made only 24 films, her contribution to the film industry along with her husband, director Rex Ingram, could fill a history book.

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She was born Alice Frances Taafe on July 24, 1899, in a small house on Fifth and Shelby Streets in Vincennes, Indiana. Her father, Martin Taafe, was a farmer who had migrated to Indiana from County Kildare, Ireland. There he met and fell in love with Ella Thorn. The two were married and began a family, with Alice the youngest of three children.

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By the time Alice turned five years old, the Taafe’s had settled in Los Angeles. Not long after their arrival, Mr. Taafe was killed in a street accident, and Mrs. Taafe took her three children back to Indiana. Within the year the Taafe’s returned to Los Angeles and moved into an apartment building in the beach community of Venice.

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The years progressed, and Alice attended Santa Monica High School while her older sister Edna worked at a candy store. At the age of 14, Alice was chosen by the Chamber of Commerce to represent Venice in the “Beauties of the Beach” contest which was sponsored by the neighboring beach communities. “Miss Taafe is a typical beach maiden,” the local newspaper proclaimed. “She is an expert swimmer, diver, tennis player, and she is as swift and sure in a canoe as an Indian maiden.”

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Regardless of her fleeting fame, money was tight, and in order to help make ends meet, Alice auditioned as an extra for Thomas Ince after being encouraged by Tarzan of the Apes actress Enid Markey, who lived in the same apartment building.

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Ince took a liking to the auburn-haired teenager and paid her $12 a week. He put her in several of his films including the 1916 classic, Civilization, in which she played everything from a peasant to a German soldier. Years later, another Ince extra, Charlotte Arthur remembered working with Alice. “Alice Terry,” she recalled, “with whom we at once made friends, whose name was Taafe in those days and whom everyone called Taffy. She was very poor and very Irish and very simple and nice—and very plump—and nobody thought she had a chance. She couldn’t act. Well, Rex Ingram taught her to do that.”

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At the time, Rex Ingram was a young director working mostly at Universal. He was married to a young actress named Doris Pawn. However, the marriage was in trouble from the start, and within the year they were separated. Rex met Alice that same year when he was making a picture at the John Brunton Studios (now Paramount). “I played an extra for two or three days,” Alice recalled,” and then he left for the Royal Flying Corps. I didn’t hear from him again until the end of the war.”

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Alice Terry without her blonde wig

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In the meantime, she continued doing extra work for different studios. Alice did not have much confidence in herself or her talent and was uncomfortable working for anyone other than Thomas Ince. “Somehow I didn’t get the thrill out of working before the camera that one is supposed to experience,” she once told a friend. “Of course, as extras we did not know the story of the picture. We simply obeyed orders as they were shouted at us in a megaphone and then waited until the picture was exhibited at our favorite theater to see what it was all about.”

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Her confidence was soon strengthened when in 1916 director Charles Giblyn cast her as the younger sister opposite Bessie Barriscale in Not My Sister (1916).  “I acted all over the place,” she said, “killing people and eating up the scenery. Until I realized that I didn’t know anything about it. Then I never ‘acted’ again.”

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Regardless, with this taste of acting now in her blood, she set her sights on something more than just an extra. “I want to be a star like Miss Barriscale,” she told a reporter. “And I am going to work just as hard in the future as I have in the past, and who knows but my dream will come true.”

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Her dream eventually would come true, but not until several setbacks. After appearing in Not My Sister, Alice continued in small roles in such films as The Bottom of the Well (1917), Thin Ice (1919), and The Valley of Giants (1919). In 1917 she appeared as an extra in Alimony (1917), made at Metro Studios, along with another unknown named Rudolph Valentino. They were extras together earning $7.50 a day and were well acquainted. “I was an extra so long, never getting anywhere,” Alice remembered. “People would say, ‘its funny, Alice that you don’t get on,” but it wasn’t funny to me. I was so shy and backward, no one was willing to risk me with a part, and I grew to have that whipped feeling, you know, that awful inner discouragement, until I was sure I would never be any good.”

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Unfortunately, it was during this time that Alice’s insecurity caused her to run away from what may have been her first big opportunity. While working as an extra on The Devil’s Pass Key (1920), director Erich Von Stroheim approached her.  “I am starting my next picture soon,” he said. “I think I may be able to do something for you. Come and see me.”

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Alice promised that she would and then walked off the lot and never went back, not even for her pay check. Afraid of having her hopes aroused again, she decided to make a slight change in careers. She found a job in the cutting room at Famous Players-Lasky, but it lasted only a short time because of her adverse reaction to the glue fumes, which forced her to return to acting.

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Soon after she received a call from Rex Ingram who had returned from the war and wanted her to pose for a head he was sculpting. Again, their paths did not cross for several months until Alice was called to be an extra on Ingram’s next film, The Day She Paid (1919). However, he spoke harshly to her, and she began to cry. She walked off the set and refused to go back.

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The next day, Rex called Alice and apologized and asked her to come back. He was going to be changing studios soon, and he had a part for her. Alice told him she would consider being a script girl, but as far as acting was concerned, she was through!

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Rex Ingram and Alice Terry

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Of course, Rex was able to convince Alice to return, and he gave her a small role in his next film, Shore Acres (1920), made at Metro. During this time, Ingram was able to find the talent that lay hidden beneath her shyness and decided to cast her in an important role in Hearts Are Trumps (1920).

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It was during preparation for this film that Alice discovered her trademark. One day she was putting on make-up and saw a blond wig sitting on the table next to her and decided to try it on. Thinking that it looked too silly, she immediately took it off, but not before Ingram walked into the room and saw her in it. He insisted she wear it in the film. Alice felt ridiculous wearing the wig until she saw the rushes three days later. “When I appeared on the screen, I looked so different, and from that time on I never got rid of the wig,” she recalled. “I was stuck with it. I didn’t feel like myself, and my freckles didn’t seem to show. My skin looked whiter, and there was a different person there. If I ever had to rehearse, I always put the wig on or I couldn’t do it.”

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The relationship between Alice and Rex was developing at a rapid pace. Rex began to get possessive of Alice, and once became jealous when she played the ukulele for his assistant, Walter Mayo. Another time, during the making of Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), a taxi driver took a liking to Alice and gave her free rides to the studio from the streetcar stop on Hollywood Boulevard. One morning, Rex overheard the taxi driver as he let her off in front of the studio on Cahuenga Avenue. “Goodbye Alice. I’ll see you in the morning,” he told the young actress. Rex was incensed. “He shouldn’t call you Alice,” Rex insisted. “You’re going to be a big star.”

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“Look,” she told Ingram, “he can call me Alice if he picks me up. I’m not going to ride on that streetcar and then walk six blocks to the studio.” The next day, Rex provided Alice with a car.

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Ingram began grooming his young protégé for stardom. First, he changed her name to Alice Terry and had her teeth fixed. He also sent her to a spa to lose weight. During this time they became good friends. They would meet at a Pasadena tea room and discuss the day’s events and each others secret ambitions. He would take her home, and the next day everyone would tell her about the other girls he saw later that night. “Well, good for him,” she would say. She liked Rex very much, but she knew that kind of behavior was not for her.

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Meanwhile, Metro Pictures’ president, Richard Rowland, bought the rights to the very popular novel The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The Vincente Blasco Ibanez novel had remained on the best seller list consistently, and Rowland felt it could be what the ailing studio needed to rescue it from the brink of bankruptcy.

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Rowland placed the undertaking into the capable hands of scenarist June Mathis. When she suggested Rex Ingram to be the director, Rowland looked at his recent work and saw how little they had cost, compared to their quality. This impressed the cost conscious mogul, and he signed Ingram for the project.

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Rudolph Valentino and Alice Terry in “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”

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Ingram and Mathis did not agree on the choice of the actor to play Julio. Mathis wanted Rudolph Valentino, who was a rising young star. Ingram recalled the young actor from his days at Universal and felt that he could not handle the role. When Mathis agreed to sign Alice Terry in the role of Marguerite, Ingram yielded and agreed to using Valentino.

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When Alice discovered that Metro had signed both her and Valentino, she couldn’t image why Rex and the studio wanted to risk everything on two virtual unknowns. However, Metro executives were betting that the book was still popular with the public, and hoped that would be enough to lure an audience. Once again, Alice’s self confidence was tested. “When I read the book I was terribly frightened,” she recalled. “I used to look at those big sets and wish I could run away; but once we started on the work I forgot to be afraid—I was fascinated.”

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A spirit of congeniality developed on the set, but the work was hard. Rex insisted that the dialogue be spoken in French. Even though it was a silent film, he wanted to impress even the lip readers in the audience. So Alice would get up at five o’clock every morning and study on the streetcar on her way to work. However, after she learned one French title, she would repeat it for every scene. “Nobody could tell the difference,” she reasoned.

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Valentino became very irritated and told her, “If you say that line one more time I’m going to…” Rex finally insisted that she learn the entire dialogue.

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When the film opened in Los Angeles, Alice was a bundle of nerves. Rex had gone to New York to attend the premiere there and called to tell her that the film was a success. As she arrived at the Mission Theater, people greeted her politely, but not with much fanfare. She felt there must be something wrong that she didn’t know. “Then at intermission these people I knew began to recognize me,” she said, “but they didn’t know I had changed my name and that I had changed so much and that I was blonde and all this, and then it was very exciting.”

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was a tremendous hit and put Metro into the black. It also helped the careers of June Mathis and Rex Ingram and made a star of Valentino and Alice Terry.

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Next week, Part Two looks at Alice and Rex Ingram’s budding relationship and the films she made with Ramon Novarro.

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The 86th Annual Rudolph Valentino Memorial Service

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

HOLLYWOOD EVENTS

 The Eighty-Sixth Annual Rudolph Valentino Memorial Service

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 Friday, August 23, 2013

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood, California

Cathedral Mausoleum

12:10PM

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This year’s Valentino Memorial Service will include new videos acknowledging the 100th anniversary of Rudolph Valentino’s arrival in America will be shown. There will also be a tribute video saluting his cinematic career.

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In addition, a video saluting Valentino’s friend and costar, Mae Murray with be presented and the guest speaker will be Michael G. Ankerich, the author of the new biography “Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips.” Also speaking will be Christopher Riordan who will update the audience about Falcon Lair. Riordan lived in the guest home on the estate, as the property overseer.

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This year the Memorial is themed to salute the 90th anniversary of the Mineralava Tour. There will be a special display of Mineralava artifacts including two of the trophies that Rudolph Valentino presented (one to a dancing couple, the other for the beauty contest). The trophies will be made available at the conclusion of the service for people to get their photo holding them. Live singing of Valentino music will be presented by the Evans & Rogers musical team.

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Acknowledgements: Valentino Memorial Committee: Tracy Ryan Terhune, Stella Grace, Chanell O Farrill, Marvin Paige. Research on the Mineralava Tour—Rebecca Eash; Mineralava Tour video—Donna Hill; remaining videos—Frank Labrador.

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