Rudolph Valentino (May 6, 1895 – August 23, 1926) was an Italian actor.
Valentino was born to Marie Berthe Gabrielle Barbin (1856 - 1919), who was French, and his father, Giovanni Antonio Giuseppe Fidele Guglielmi (1853-1906), a veterinarian, was Italian. He had an older brother, Alberto (1892-1981), a younger sister, Maria, and an older sister Beatrice who died in infancy.
His father Giovanni had been in a traveling circus before meeting his mother and settling down as a veterinarian. Though his father was a strict authoritarian, his mother doted on her "beautiful baby" even to the exclusion of his older brother Alberto and younger sister Maria. By the time he was eleven he was an undisciplined, pampered bully. He was expelled from many schools, finally obtaining a diploma in the Science of Farming from the Academy of Agriculture.
He went to Paris where he learned apache dancing, joined a gay crowd, returned broke, took his inheritance of $4000 and, December 1913, sailed for New York. He worked as a busboy, then gigolo, while pursuing dance, especially the tango. In 1917 went to Hollywood and obtained a small dancing part in Alimony (1917). When he did get acting roles they were villains not lovers. Script writer June Mathis and director Rex Ingram convinced Metro to do The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) and to cast Valentino in the lead. The first million dollar production saved Metro and made Rudy a star.
It also brought him to the attention of Alla Nazimova who wanted him to play opposite her in Camille (1921). Alla's friend, Natacha Rambova (nee Winifred Hudnut) became attached to Rudy and they eloped to Mexico 13 May, 1922 in the belief his divorce from Jean Acker was official. He was jailed as a bigamist and fined $10,000. After their re-marriage the following year she fled to Paris having never entered his new mansion, Falcon Lair. He took up her interest in séances and the occult. He began dating sexy Pola Negri partly to improve his image as a man. While touring to promote his last film, an editorial in the Chicago Tribune accused him of "effeminization of the American male". He defended his manhood by challenging the writer of the article to a boxing match (which never took place). He died shortly afterward. 80,000 mourners caused a near riot at his New York funeral. Another funeral followed in California.