VALENTINO by Irving Shulman


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Even though many people today have never seen Valentino, his funeral which Frank E. Campbell staged in 1926 is the one unforgettable scene they are likely to remember--a mass weep-in with the famous profile at three-quarters mast in the catafalque. Actually it is some of the paraphernalia associated with Valentino and his progression from gigolo to screen gaucho to legendary love image which is more interesting than Valentino himself. Born Rodolpho Guglielmi in southern Italy, dry dung was thrown in his face on his return visit. Shulman has had a lifelong interest in him and his book is much more than a Photoplayback (he's researched just about everything). Still Valentino remains more of a phenomenon than a person. Perhaps he wasn't anything else--this man whom Mcncken tagged as ""catnip to women,"" who made one unconsummated marriage, a second disturbed one (Natacha Rambova--Nazimova's protegee) and who was apparently castrated by his own aura. There was nothing in his life to give this the exposure of the earlier Harlow; and Shulman, who has done a very professional job here, seems to realize that the idol was no more than a hollow man with the accessories of fame and the fortune he misspent; in fact, he has no more contemporary charisma than a Vitalis commercial. Still--both names will launch this.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1967
Publisher: Trident