The last days of Rudolph Valentino…Part One

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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