He was born Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Piero Filiberto Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antoguolla in Castellaneta, Apulia, Italy to a solidly middle-class family (his father was a veterinarian), in the same year as the invention of cinema.
He studied and qualified in Agricultural Science at Nervi in Genoa. He spent some time in Paris, where he became a talented dancer, and then returned to Italy for a while. In 1913 he left for America, following the advice of Domenico Savino, a friend of his and of tenor Tito Schipa. He landed in New York where he worked for a while as a dancer and obtained a certain local fame. It has been said that during this period he also was a gigolo and that he had judicial troubles for prostitution-related matters. He next joined an operetta company that soon disbanded in Utah; from there he reached San Francisco, California, where he met the actor Norman Kerry, who convinced him to try a career in cinema, still in the silent era. After a dozen films, that made him quite famous, in 1919 he was married for a few hours to Jean Acker (1893-1978), a part-Cherokee film starlet who was a lesbian; the marriage was reportedly never consummated and they were divorced in 1923. He then achieved full success in films in 1921 with The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
On May 13, 1922, in Mexicali, Mexico, Valentino married actress Natacha Rambova. This resulted in him being jailed for bigamy, since his divorce from Acker was not yet final. They remarried a year later. That same year Valentino became a great star, with the release of The Sheik.
In 1923 a dispute with Paramount Pictures resulted in an injunction which prohibited Valentino from making films with other producers. He traveled to Europe and had a memorable visit to his native town. Back in the United States, he was criticized by his fans for his newly cultivated beard and was forced to shave.
After his separation from Rambova, Valentino had an affair with the actress Pola Negri.
Valentino's Irish Wolfhound was named Centaur Pendragon.
In 1926 he died in New York, New York as a result of septicemia a short time after surgery for an acute perforated gastric ulcer. An estimated 100,000 people were said to have taken part in his funeral. Hollywood legend relates the story that thousands of women lined the streets, causing riots. Several of his fans were even said to have committed suicide.
He is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.
Rudolph Valentino has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and in 1994, he was honored with his image on a United States postage stamp designed by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld.
Rudolph Valentino Facts
|Birth Name||Rodolfo Alfonzo Raffaelo Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguolla|
|Birthday||May 6, 1895|
|Date of death||August 23, 1926 (age 31)|
|Height||5' 11" (1m80) How tall is Rudolph Valentino compared to you?|
|Beyond the Rocks|
|Married Virgin, The|
|Blood And Sand|
|The Son of the Sheik|