“the Overloved One”

PrintPrintEmailEmail Texture of a butterfly’s wing, Colored like a dawned rose, Whose perfume is the breath of God. Such is the web wherein is held The Treasure of the Transcendent The priceless gift—the Child of Love.

The fourth entry in the Valentino publicity sweepstakes was Alberto Valentino, Rudy’s older brother. He stepped eagerly forward, hoping to use some of his brother’s posthumous fame as a springboard to stardom himself.

Alberto spent much of his time stoutly defending the Valentino pedigree and background. Presumably Valentino was born Rodolfo Guglielmi—at Castellaneta, Italy, on May 6, 1895—for this was the name he used on his wedding licenses. Alberto said Rudy’s full name was Rodolfo Alonzo Raffaelo Pierre Filibert Guglielmi Di Valentina d’Antonguolla. Moreover, the Valentina was an ancient papal title conferred on the family, and the d’Antonguolla signified the right to certain royal property, so that although it was not generally known, Rudy was actually of noble descent.

Far from being illiterate, Alberto said, his brother was at home in five languages, and was a graduate of the Royal Academy of Agriculture at Genoa. Nor had he ever been, as some claimed, an apprentice barber on Mulberry Street. True, he had worked as a gardener on a big Long Island estate, but only for a short time before taking up a brilliant career as a professional dancer, which led him to Hollywood. The newsmen soon tired of interviewing Alberto, and although he got as far as a screen test, his movie aspirations appear to have ended with that.

Publicity group number five was composed of gentlemen devoted to furthering the movie career of Pola Negri. At first the lady did not intrude on the scene, remaining in Hollywood and letting the press agents speak for her. They darkly confided to newspapermen that Valentino’s last words had been falsified. This news failed to staler the iournalists. but the new deathbed version did take them by surprise. What Rudy had actually said—and this on the authority of an unnamed doctor who had been with the actor at the end—was simply: “Pola, I love you, and will love you in eternity.” Officials at her studio said Pola was the one and only true love of Valentino’s life, that she was grief-stricken, and that she would soon appear in a sensational new movie to be shown at all the better houses.

Two days passed after Valentino’s death, and nothing was heard from Miss Negri. By now, accounts of the disturbances in New York and abroad had impressed Hollywood, and it was clear that Valentino’s death was driving other news off the front pages. The actress promptly announced that she was boarding a train for New York, hoping to arrive in time for the funeral of her “fiancé.” The sultry Polish Lorelei evidently did not read the newspapers, for she declared she had just learned of the death of her beloved. Under ordinary circumstances she would have arrived too late for the funeral, since the train trip took four days. But when she reached New York on August 29, the Campbell establishment was still showing the body to selected visitors.

After the funeral on the following day, Miss Negri returned to her hotel, pursued by a flock of reporters. The actress refused to receive the press, feeling it was not in good taste to do so, she said, so soon after the obsequies of her fiancé. She sent word out that in all likelihood she would spend the rest of her days in a cloister. Of course, she would first have to fulfill her movie commitments—she could not break her word.

The newsmen wanted to question Miss Negri about her engagement to Valentino, for they thought it had been sponsored by the studio. Valentino often had been questioned about marrying the actress and he had always been evasive. “Ask the lady,” he had said diplomatically. Now, however, it was announced that she had collapsed. Physicians were trying to calm her.

As the day wore on, the actress made a wonderful recovery and was able once more to visit the Campbell mortuary, where Valentino was again on display. There, the beaming Klemfuss told reporters, the coffin was opened by special permission of the Health Department so that Miss Negri could get one last glimpse of her beloved Sheik. Klemfuss estimated she had spent a full hour mourning at the bier, alternately weeping and praying. As the actress left, she informed reporters, in a heavy Polish accent and with tears coursing down her cheeks, that she never would be able to fall in love again.

Valentino’s body remained in the Gold Room for three more days after the funeral. The mortuary by then had sheltered it for ten days, and rival undertakers may have wondered if Campbell’s was the permanent custodian of the famous body. But Valentino’s final resting place, naturally, was to be California. As if unable to wrench himself away, Frank E. Campbell, head of the undertaking establishment, announced he would accompany the body as far as Chicago aboard the funeral train.

Police insisted the coffin be smuggled onto the train to avoid any public commotion. On the afternoon of September 2, it was taken through a baggage entrance at Grand Central Station, put in a freight elevator, and stealthily carried aboard the train.