Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Lady and The Ghost of Valentino

Hollywood's first superstar speaks from beyond

Rudolph Valentino
The Sheik
August 1926 Rudolph Valentino was dying in a New York City hospital. The very spiritual Natacha Rambova was not able to be at his side. She later spoke about her communication with him. Here are accounts of his messages and communications to and from some of his family and friends.

Both Rudolph and Natacha, the wife with whom he had recently separated, had been interested in psychic phenomena. The film Ouija is currently very popular. It's based on the The Ouija board used by some as a spirit board to talk to the dead. Simply ghost stories??

S. George Ullman Valentino's manager talked about their spirituality in his book, Valentino as I knew Him. "I had observed that both Rudy and Natacha were interested in something supernatural. Just what I did not know. Afterwards it turned out to be automatic writing and a form of the psychic."

Valentino had built Falcon Lair for Natacha and rumor had it that he wanted her back. (Natacha's real name was Winifred Hudnut. She'd changed it when she went into the movie business.) Though Valentino and Natacha were legally separated, she said she believed they were still spiritually united and that closeness continued even after his passing. This allowed messages to pass between them.

Silent video, news footage Valentino funeral August 1926. Ends w/footage of the star dancing & in his final film, The Son of the Sheik, which was released posthumously

Did messages she received come from her husband? Natacha was sure of it. "When we receive a telephone message from another city, how do we know who is speaking? From mannerisms, from thoughts, from the topics of conversation. Every message from Rudy undeniably has carried authentic earmarks."

Swanson, Valentino 1922 vintage portrait card
Swanson, Valentino 1922 The Valentino Kiss

"Before he died, Rudy talked with us. He was under anaesthetic. An anaesthetic merely releases the astral body from the material one. Rudy kept calling all the time. He was terribly depressing. He had seen Jenny [June Mathis' late mother] and knew he was going to die. His messages were incoherent.

One account suggests the actor called out Jenny's name shortly before he died. He didn't want to die.

"A few days before he actually passed on we received a cablegram from George Ullman saying Rudy was better. A message from Mesolope an old Egyptian who used to communicate with Rudy through automatic writings reversed this decision of the doctors in New York City. We hoped that Mesolope was wrong that there had been some mistake in his communication. This was on a Friday. 

"Monday morning I awoke to find the atmosphere of my room heavy with tuberoses. Then I knew Rudy had passed on. When the delayed cablegram arrived I was glad Mesolope had warned us. His message from beyond that Rudy was coming somewhat softened the cruelty of the news for us. Rudy began communicating with us almost at once......" 

Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova 1922

She said that Valentino was communicating through the process called mechanical writing or automatic writing. She would take plain yellow paper (yellow being the most psychic color) and a large, soft lead pencil. He would control the pencil and write the messages through her hand. She had never received messages until those from her Rudy. 

"We would sit around and talk at random. She would join in the conversation, merely holding the pencil."

For an issue of Photoplay magazine, Miss Rambova answered questions about Valentino in the afterlife.

Q: Does Valentino know of the sorrow that swept the world at his death?

"Naturally he was conscious of the world's sorrow. It was visible all about him. It tortured him in those earthbound days."

Death turns him into an invisible cold wind.... Valentino speaks: 
Rambova quoted one of Valentino's first messages to her, something she says that he experienced shortly after he died.

"'As you know, Natacha I have always been easily touched by praise and flattery. The struggles I have gone through and the obstacles I have overcome made the pleasure of public attention all the greater. But now I stood alone. There was no one to praise me. There was no one to talk about it. I wandered up and down Broadway. 

"It seemed as real to me as ever it had before. But no one took any notice of me; I could hardly comprehend that they could not see me. I was so real and they were so real that it made the realization of my change very difficult.' He grasped a woman's arm. 'My what a cold wind struck me! she said.'

"'This made me furious. So death had turned me into a cold wind! I would not have it so. I rushed up to a group of actors standing on the corner of Forty-Seventh Street and Broadway. I seized one of the men by the arm and shouted, I am Rudolph Valentino! But he paid no attention and went on laughing and talking. I felt so helpless and useless and yes, I felt dead, too.'"

Q: Does he have a message for us?

"Yes, He wants earth-people to know and realize that there is no death and no separation. He wants earth-people to miss his heartrending experience. He wants them to realize and believe in the beauty and perfection of this afterlife."

Historic Print: Harry Houdini with his wife Beatrice and mother Cecilia Steiner Weiss

A note run by one of the magazines that printed an interview with Rambova: 

"The many questions of spiritualism, theosophy and reincarnation cannot be discussed here. It must be noted however that many scientists and men of world wide prominence, including Sir Arthur Doyle, William James and others, believe in the possibility of receiving authentic spirit messages. 

"On the other hand Houdini, who devoted his life to exposing spiritualistic fakes and who died recently, never has communicated with his wife although a series of signals has been arranged.... Other spiritualists have claimed to receive communication from Houdini but they fail to reveal the secret code the magician had given to his wife."
-- end of magazine article excerpts

"It must not be thought that Valentino was superstitious in any small and trivial way. He had no objection to spilling salt, walking under a ladder, whistling in dressing rooms, beginning a picture on a Friday or sitting down with thirteen at a table. These things he ridiculed.

"The psychic never became a religion to him but he yielded to its mesmerism more than to any other form. This was entirely due to the influence of his wife who was a firm believer in the occult and initiated him into its mysteries. It was for this reason that she changed her name from Winifred Shaunessy DeWolf-Hudnut to Natacha Rambova. She believed that she would achieve fame under this new name."
-- Valentino As I Knew Him, S. George Ullman

Pola Negri
Valentino had an affair with the Polish actress, Pola Negri. She famously kissed him after he'd died and later fainted at his grave. She was in attendance when his crypt was sealed. 

Miss Negri provided the beautiful blanket of flowers that covered his coffin. She claimed that she was engaged to marry him. 

In June 1926 Rudloph Valentino and Pola Negri (above) at wedding of Mae Murray and David Mdivani. Pola Negri would go on to marry David's brother Serge Mdivani (her second husband) on May 14, 1927. 

In an earlier article in this blog, it was mentioned that in 1931 another brother, Alexis Mdivani had been married to Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton. Hutton also was married to Cary Grant.

Their sister Nina Mdivani was once married to Denis Conan Doyle, a son of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle also had a belief in things spiritual and paranormal. In the very early 1920s Doyle was predicting we would be taking movies of ghosts and spirits. To this day, nearly a hundred years later, people continue the attempt to get ghosts' pictures, to make spirit movies, as they were called.

~ o ~ o ~ o ~

Pola Negri in Barbed Wire

Having visited his home, Falcon's Lair*, many times, it had been her claim that the two of them were planning on living there as a couple. In late 1934, Negri purchased the property and planned to live there with the spirit of Valentino. She was just one of many people who owned or rented the property over the years.

"'It has long been one of the big dreams of my life to live in the home of Rudolph,' Pola says in that dramatic voice of hers, but with very real tears in her dark eyes, "and now within a month the home will belong to us, Rudolph and me. We shall be happy living there.' ...

"For many years Falcon Lair has been untenanted. Natacha never lived there. Before it was finished she and the Latin star were separated. But to Pola Negri it is filled with memories, memories of that brief wonderful romance with Valentino which death alone interrupted.  .... 

"'I know Rudolph will be happy that the home where we planned to live after our marriage will soon be ours again.'"
-- Movie Classic December 1934 

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Valentino Premonition?
Occasionally we hear that someone had predicted their own death before it happened. Did the star have a premonition that he would have an early death?

On the day Valentino died, John W. Considine, Jr. co-producer of a couple of his pictures was quoted as saying, "Valentino several times remarked to me 'I shall die young. I know it and I shall not be sorry. I would hate to live to be an old man.' Valentino's prophecy has been fulfilled but it has been a  terrific blow to his friends. I found Rudolph a man of great courage and unquenchable spirit. He will be greatly missed." 

Ghost Portrait, his brother's encounter
Rudolph Valentino died without ever seeing his portrait by Frenchman Gaston Lavrillier. A few years after Valentino's death the ghost portrait was purchased by Ivan Dujan. He was a silent film cameraman who became an artist. On the 50th anniversary of Valentino's death he put the work up for public auction. 

Dujan said Valentino's brother once came to view his brother's image. 

"He knelt in front of it and said, 'Rudy why don't you speak to me?'" 
-- The Miami News, September 3, 1976 

More in the Series:

Rudolph Valentino: When I Come Back  

His Haunted Mansion, Valentino's Home in the Hollywood Hills, Falcon's Lair And how on earth could there be connections between the Valentino mansion and later film icons Clark Gable and Cary Grant? More about Falcon Lair. Is or was the Valentino mansion in the Hollywood Hills a Haunted House? There are stories of people who have spent only one night in the house and fled. 

Rudolph Valentino's Impact National Lover, Movie Idol, Sex Symbol: Would he be such big a star today?

Strange Experiences at Valentino's Grave Rudolph Valentino's ghost is said haunt his grave site. What about messages he's left for other people, those he never even met? There is a virtual bouquet of stories about the Lady in Black. Touch on that from a several-year diary kept by the man who was caretaker at Valentino's grave.

Related Books and Articles of Interest: 

The Death of Jean Harlow, 1936

Valentino as I knew Him by S. George Ullman
Ullman was was a friend and the executor of Valentino's estate. Vintage editions and reprints become available at different times. 

A Curious Life by psychic medium, George B Wehner.
Wehner worked with Rambova in contacting Valentino. You may find vintage editions or more recent issues of this book.

Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino by Emily W. Leide

Rudolph Valentino: A Wife's Memories of an Icon by Natacha Rambova, Adapted edition. Not sure how the adapted version may differ from the author's original work, though this gets good reader comments.

A Good Cry-Off Camera Musicians Help Silent Film Actors Bring TearsYour Director tells you to Cry

In case you were looking for the glorious fashion designer, Valentino Garavani. Here's an amazing book: Valentino: Themes and Variations

Rambova said yellow is the most psychic color. Do you have a yellow legal pad? Yellow paper for your printer or for crafting? Office Depot Colored Copy Paper, Yellow, 8 1/2 Inch x 11 Letter Size, 20 lb., 300 Sheets Pack 
Pola Negri Silent Film Star Vintage Poster
Pola Negri Silent Film Star Vintage Poster  
See another artwork, choose unframed or have framed

Witch Board by Shayne of the Dead table lamp
Witch Board by Shayne of the Dead table lamp 
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** This is part of a series. Do you believe in spirits, haunted houses? Do you believe that Valentino's ghost would come back walking through his former home, Falcon's Lair? Does he haunt his grave? Does he send messages?

*Please note, I've seen Valentino's home referred to as Falcon Lair and Falcon's Lair in articles, notes and books by a variety of persons from the time it was being built. Today the names are used interchangeably. Both versions of the name in articles here.

Sources not cited elsewhere
AP News, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, August 24, 1926 
Motion Picture January 1929 
Movie Weekly August 1922 

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