100,000 MOURNERS

Distraught fans killed themselves, riots erupted

The Great Lover


Rudolph Valentino, silent movie superstar of the 1920s, died on August 23 in 1926. He was just 31.

More than 100,000 people lined the streets of Manhattan for his funeral on August 24.

Inconsolable fans committed suicide. Others smashed windows trying to get into the funeral home for one last glimpse of their idol.

Riots erupted as a hundred mounted officers and NYPD’s Police Reserve tried to restore order. A phalanx of officers lined the streets for the remainder of the viewing.

Polish actress Pola Negri, who claimed she was Valentino’s fiancée, collapsed in hysterics while standing over the coffin.

Valentino fans committed suicide.
Pola Negri (center) being supported at the funeral.

For three days, thousands streamed into the funeral home to view his body. Two funerals were held — one in New York and one in Los Angeles. Silent movie icons Mary Pickford and Gloria Swanson were among the mourners.

Valentino died of peritonitis following surgery for perforated ulcers, but many believed the “Great Lover” was poisoned by the jealous husband of a hopelessly smitten fan.  

He was born in Italy on May 6, 1895, with quite a handle — Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filiberto Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguella. He emigrated to America in 1913.

Valentino was married twice — to actress Jean Acker, 1919 to 1923, and to Natacha Rambova, 1923 to 1925.

Valentino and Jean Acker
Valentino and Jean Acker

”Women are not in love with me but with the picture of me on the screen. I am merely the canvas upon which the women paint their dreams.”

Valentino and Natacha Rambova
With Natacha Rambova

His movies included The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Eagle, and The Son of Sheik.

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This is a snapshot of Valentino’s life. His full story is fascinating and can be found here.

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