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- The Rudolph Valentino Brown Story : The Rise of the Legendary House of Brown Hair Salon
- The Rudolph Valentino Brown Story: The Rise of the Legendary House of Brown Hair Salon
To find out we must delve a little. Suggesting the phrase was then a little flexible. And representations of ancient history, or exotic slave markets, in paintings and prints. That early cinema contributed is undeniable. Slave bracelets appeared from time-to-time in serialised stories too, in local, statewide and national news publications.
Lippincot Co. And as a modern symbol of enslavement it weirdly echoes the claimed future enslavement of Rudy by his second wife. But more about all that later. Inhabitants of the Continent were, it seems, as enamoured of antique or reproduction antique pieces as Americans were, if not more so; if we trust the press of the period, which of course we do.https://motm.it/images/map20.php
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In France — France, particularly Paris, being the initiator of rages then, and for many decades afterwards — we find bracelets galore in article after article in the newspapers and supplements of the Belle Epoque. Such information would elude me I was sure. That the place where bracelets for men became The Vogue was Great Britain — or England as it was referred to at that time — amazed me. And yet it did. As follows:. As women become masculinized, they take over all the situations considered to be the preserve of men, and have fun at the expense of men, with delicacies, and with futilities that were considered reserved for the weaker sex.
They want to put the bracelet in fashion. Already, these last years, the young elegants have adopted the carrying on their manicured fingers of expensive rings. Today, in New Bond [Street], young people choose themselves these jewels and declare them elegant. Firstly that it touches on the fact that females were becoming more assertive and making decisions for their males. Secondly that that meant they were feminising, or softening, their men. Thirdly that there was a definite appetite amongst certain males — Young Elegants — to acquire adornments. We must assume — and I think we do assume — that the fad reported about in made its way inevitably across the English Channel and was for-ever-more seen as a French Thing.
That the Young Elegants with polished nails jumped onto the trend, is supported by Emily W. It seems tags were introduced so bodies could be identified and some combatants began wearing them on a chain. And yet not too long after the conflict ended he did indeed possess and wear a bracelet. Of course the chain we see in candid and promotional shots is a light-weight, far less impressive piece, than the one given to him by his next partner Natacha Rambova.
The story of how he received that replacement bracelet is a well-known one but it bears repeating. About four weeks before Christmas, , Luther H. Her wish was to have the exclusive jewellers create the trinket out of platinum in time to give to Rudy on Christmas Day. He agreed that it was a wonderful gift, and he wore it all the time.
George Ullman, as ever placing himself centre stage, fails to mention the involvement of Luther H. And we soon see why. Yet, he was, without question, a witness to proceedings on Christmas Day. His verbose recollections, while giving us no more than the remembrances of his foe, do set the stage quite nicely for the ensuing silliness in the New Year, as well as in the one following: Slave bracelets had been noticeable in the USA for twelve months by the end of — but, as intimated, on the wrists of women rather than men.
I found no advertisements for bracelets of any type for males. Natacha was, she almost certainly knew, breaking with convention when she fastened one to her husband. A man in any walk of life that year was likely to receive cufflinks or something similar. Rudy, for his part, was a European who already had a penchant for anything glittery.
He owned scores of rings, shirt studs and tie pins, wrist watches and pocket watches. He was in tune with his partner and she was in tune with him. To the extent he also purchased for her something for the wrist: a breathtaking watch with a face that was a moonstone edged with diamonds. He was aware of them, but …. None, as far as I know, were particularly vicious, and besides he was busy; first with The Eagle , and then with The Son of the Sheik George Ullman divulged the following about the day on which Rudolph Valentino saw red when he saw and read the defamatory editorial:. Here I was handed the now famous editorial which originally appeared in The Chicago Tribune.
I recognized as coming from the same poison pen which earlier in the year had, without cause and without reason, attacked my friend. If he had not caught me in the act of reading it I think I would never have allowed him to see it, so profoundly do I regret the irritating and saddening effect it had upon him. Being the sceptic I am it all makes me wonder. The timing, right in the middle of issues with United Artists, and, if we believe Mahoney, with Ullman himself, is a little suspect. Not the previous day. Not the day after. Maybe I look too deeply. Luther H. Mahoney is clear that on previous occasions Rudolph Valentino failed to take offence.
Cool laughter turned to bubbling lava. Did Ullman, contrary to his recollection, stir things up? Did he actually advise him to act? The same poison pen? His experience? A classic example of Parapraxis? Rudy responded instantly, on the spot, before leaving Chicago. Preferring instead to castigate the unknown individual, and challenge him to a one-off, private man-to-man fight in Chicago. That Rudolph Valentino never received a reply and was unable to face his critic is very much part of The Legend. As is the fact everyone knew; that he was constantly speaking of it; and was questioned about it in his final weeks of life.
And that after his operation, a month after the appearance of the written attack, it was reported his first words were a question: had he, he asked, behaved like a Pink Powder Puff. A week later he was dead. And that was that. As we see:. He, being a film actor about whom miles of newspaper columns have been written to adequately describe …. Can he forget, if he read the slush, that he was pictured as the pace setter in styles; that he cut his hair to a pointed side-burn; that he wore green suits and pink gaiters to tickle the heart of femininity?
Perhaps, it was because his publicity men demanded that and more of him. He must have suspected, if he did not know. And if the indignant Mr. Valentino observed the trend of youth toward cosmetics and vaselined hair, he must have claimed credit or scorned responsibility, just as you please about the issue. Rudolph Valentino lived by the sword of publicity. Green suits? Pink gaiters? A reference to Monsieur Beaucaire ? If nothing else it rationalises the situation and contextualises it. Yet I must add I feel it supports the idea Rudolph Valentino was actively encouraged to make a song and dance about the Pink Powder Puffs write up.
To wrap himself up in it. To own his impact and elevate it, rather than allow the wordsmith to, and diminish it. Anyone ought to know that every motion-picture player has to use a powder puff! Just a few short months after being given the bracelet by Natacha Rambova, Rudolph Valentino had influenced Jack Gilbert to acquire one. And he can be seen wearing it, in The Merry Widow , filmed during the first half of the next year. My Eagle Eyes have spotted them on a number of others. Erich von Stroheim for example. And even on the wrist of Rex Ingram.
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That Rudy was singled out for sporting one therefore seems rather odd. The Slave Bracelet continued to be a popular item in the late Twenties and well into the Thirties. Ironically it began to embody ruggedness and toughness. After the Second World War, alongside the Identity Bracelet which we saw originated in the previous international conflict , it became more widespread; reaching a peak in the Fifties, when almost every notable male personality appeared to own one.
In the Seventies, before, during and after the Disco Era, it was once again much displayed. Before dying a bit of a death in the following decade. That I owned and wore one myself, for about five or so years in the Nineties, was a total accident. Walking down a city street in Asia one day, in , I noticed on my left, on the ground, on a thick red cloth, a selection of silver items for sale: chains, key rings, rings, etc.
There were several. I asked to see one and tried it on. It was made of generous links that were obviously hand-made but expertly crafted. It was heavy, but not too heavy to feel comfortable, and it fit me perfectly. For a moment I stood there looking at it glinting in the strong sunlight. Then I said that I wanted it. And it was bought. For a whole half decade I never took it off. I wore it in bed. I wore it in the shower. I wore it day and night indoors and out. I swam with it on. Wore it to restaurants and nightclubs and parties.
I wore it wherever I went in the UK and abroad and it never fell off. Not once. I loved it — it was part of me. And I really do understand because it was bought for me that day by my partner at the time. However I always had the Slave Bracelet to remind me. A solid and very special item.
Of course nobody made fun of me for wearing it. That I wore it at all is, I believe, thanks to Rudolph Valentino. Steele, die prematurely due to the PPP editorial? And because he wore wrist jewellery? For me no. I already looked into his tragic end, some months ago, in The Mysterious Party, and arrived at the supposition he drank something toxic.
And shown how it originated as a feminine piece, that became a symbol of union in England, and then, very quickly, a fashionable adornment, a useful war time piece, a trendy Hollywood accoutrement, then, finally, an enduring mark of masculinity and virility. Without a doubt Rudolph Valentino popularised the bracelet in Hollywood in the Twenties.
It was after he received it from Natacha Rambova that it began to appear on the wrists of his contemporaries. Yet it was clearly by accident rather than by design. That you did read it through means a great deal to me. See you again next month! As the bitter-sweet tale is about Christmas, and Christmas is approaching, I felt it would be an appropriate final post before the end of So here goes! I said: Well you sure do.
This is our Big Night. My mother and father will be there. And the presents. So we made him Santa Claus. I had a red cape. And we put a red hat on him. And we got cotton and put a white beard on him. And he… handed out the presents. And I think, hmm, well, there was one Christmas they forgot about Rudy, before he was anything. After he did The Four Horsemen that was… different. The two friends encountered each other somewhere in LA seemingly on Christmas Eve.
That night — maybe the next morning — they dressed him up as Saint Nicholas, and got him to hand out all of the gifts. When she reflects on how things were after he became a Star as Julio in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse the umbrage is noticeable. Before he achieved fame nobody had any time for him; after, many claimed to have been there to assist.
Dana gives us a wonderful festive gift herself when she delivers her recollection. And yet it leaves us seriously wondering on two fronts. At the end of Viola Dana had much to celebrate. The year had seen the release of no less than eight of her starring vehicles. One in January, two in March, another in April, two more in June and July, a further one in the November, all followed by one more in the December. As the issuing of the last of the eight, The Willow Tree , was just days away, on the 29th of the month, The Teens were unquestionably ending on a high.
And with a new decade ahead who knew what she might yet achieve. Professional success was, perhaps, all the more satisfying due to her having lost her first husband, John Hancock Collins, in the Spanish Flu Epidemic of His sudden demise, that October, robbed her not only of her partner, but also the person responsible for writing and directing her films. Despite this terrible blow — perhaps because of it — she continued working, managing to actually strengthen her position at Metro Pictures Corporation, her studio; thanks in large part to June Mathis; fully, or jointly responsible, for no less than four scenarios: The Parisian Tigress, Some Bride, The Microbe and The Willow Tree.
An individual who was never above anyone.
That lived her life to the fullest. And that was a lot of fun to be with. Exactly the sort of company he required at such a low point. The exact opposite was the case for Rudolph Valentino. Going, as he did, from a minor cast member; to a bit part player; to a key cast member; to again a minor cast member; to an uncredited extra; to a minor cast member; and lastly, once again, to a minor cast member.
Without the security of any kind of contract at a studio he was adrift, anchorless, at the mercy of the turbulent waves of the sea that was the industry at the time. Leonard, appeared to be a progression, yet, cruelly, took him nowhere. The hopeful approached him one evening at an establishment asking him if he could be her dance partner. Several stories at this time underscore his quiet desperation as he bounced from one project to another. One, related by Sessue Hayakawa, in his autobiography Zen Showed Me the Way , features Valentino going to see the Japanese Actor and almost pleading to be included in any future production.
Hayakawa explains to his reader it was an impossibility, however, due to them being far too similar to one another. According to Emily W. And it was to also inexorably lead him to the role of Clarence Morgan in Eyes of Youth; the role understood to be the singular reason Mathis cast him as Julio, in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse After a while he spotted a New York acquaintance, Dagmar Godowsky, and went over to her in order to speak.
Once the humiliated Rudy had withdrawn Nazimova berated Godowsky for daring to present a such a figure to her and her guests; a man notoriously caught up in the shocking de Saulles scandal two years earlier. Why would she be so annoyed? Why indeed! Within a week, Valentino became seriously acquainted with one of the young women at the Ship Cafe just days earlier. It was to be a meeting of two rather similar individuals. People somewhat battered and bruised by their recent experiences in life, and, during their time as performers on film. A little insecure.
Victims, both, of the great Diva Nazzy. Two unconnected souls needing connection, about to connect, without even the faintest inkling of the far-reaching consequences. But then, in the moment, who can see too far ahead? He asked her to dance. She declined. The discussion is unrecorded — the terrible Ship Cafe incident and the film-making business are two obvious topics — but we know they found themselves understanding and liking one another very much indeed. Jean, nearly three years his senior, perhaps spoke of her successful return to motion pictures twelve months earlier.
Rudy had his own tale to tell of course. That before all of this he had been a dancer on both coasts ; had arrived from Italy almost six years ago; had emigrated at the age of eighteen; and was trained as an Agriculturalist. A two month long courtship commenced, culminating in marriage, just before or after midnight on November the 4th, or 5th.
The Tuesday or the Wednesday. It would seem Rudy had proposed several times — no less than seven according to one source — and on each occasion was gently rebuffed. After checking with Mr.
The Rudolph Valentino Brown Story : The Rise of the Legendary House of Brown Hair Salon
James I. Myers of the Broadway Christian Church , and returned to the Karger residence and were wed. We can of course assume that due to the fact it was a significant studio affair there would have been at least two or three journalists present. And my favourite, due to its prophetic quality, is coverage in the November 22nd issue of Camera! The difference obviously being that in the Universal-Jewel Production de Luxe there was a soft landing.
Or that there was subsequently an odd series of encounters and incidents involving the couple in the four weeks between mid. November and mid. Suffice to say, that by the time Valentino reached Christmas Eve. The individual who accidentally met with Viola, on that Wednesday in the penultimate week of the year, was wondering if he would ever have a sustained run of luck. Hopefully, one day, the subject of another post. He did not, like his Hostess on Christmas Day, have the support of his family.
This was a person who had long ago lost his father, and less than two years before, at the very start of , had been deprived of his mother. His two siblings, Alberto, his older brother, and Maria, his younger sister, were alive but many thousands of miles away. Of course instead of actual family he naturally had friends that he could turn to — right? Where was Mae Murray? Trying desperately all day to reach him on the telephone? We might begin to seriously question if their walks together under the stars in Central Park in New York years earlier ever happened.
How about Emmett J. His director twice. Absolutely not. And the others? Norman Kaiser now Norman Kerry? And Dorothy Gish? And of course there were others — people like Frank A. Why was his Sponsor and Benefactor so absent? Where would the struggling Actor without prospects, without his wife, and without family or friends have ended up?
I shudder at the thought. A chill comes over me just picturing him alone again as he was in December And I think, too, about young people just like him today. Without prospects. Without a partner. With no family to turn to or any friends on hand. In a busy, happy home. Part of the fun. Enjoying delicious food. For 48 hours or so forgetting his many troubles. And maybe getting some good advice from Viola, or one of her famous sisters, or from their mother.
Perhaps spending time with them was just the tonic that he needed. A belated festive gift, maybe? What fame did certainly ensure was no more lonely Christmasses. First of all I want to say thank you so much for reading this post all the way through — I really appreciate it. May I wish all of you a very enjoyable and memorable Festive Period. And if you are able why not think about including someone who has nowhere to go. After all, it might just transform them, and their lives, you never know.
See you in ! Had Rudolph Valentino not become seriously ill and died 92 years ago, he would, right about now, have been busy filming his third spectacular for United Artists Corp. Cellini, the tentative title, we know. But what was it about? Who was to star in it? Which director had been selected? These questions and others need answering. Schenck said to reporters on the 17th of August His blunt pronouncement woke me up to the scale of the pact between Joe and Rudy.
There was a great deal riding on each of the five productions two of which had been completed. Nothing had been uncovered yet. The more I looked the more I found. But more about that later. The origins of the vehicle that was never to be? Perhaps the credit for the idea should be handed to Robert G. The hero is Cellini, the famous Italian sculptor of the fifteenth [sic] century.
Romance and action are always good picture material and with slight changes this play should make a good vehicle for Valentino. And also why others including Valentino did too. After inviting Cellini to the palace he departs with the girl; before the arrival of the Duchess, who, likewise, invites the craftsman. To regain Angela he agrees.
Following hilarity on the balcony he escapes to his studio for one last night of bliss before he dies. Attempting to complete his art there before dying, and tired of love, he dispatches Angela to Duke Allesandro. And soothes the wrathful Duchess with an artful explanation as to why he never arrived in her boudoir. The play concludes with them making fresh plans for that evening.
Meanwhile, the Star, Joseph Schildkraut, a stage actor, had already performed successfully in front of the camera; most notably under the direction of D. Griffith in Orphans of the Storm. No wonder then that Robert G. Lisman saw Rudy in the part! Though his clever work was ripe for the Silver Sheet and one of its icons its pathway was far from smooth.
Firstly there had already been two films with the same title. And another, with Franklyn Farnum, in , released by Phil Goldstone. Yet the true obstacle was that in the Spring of the office of Will H. But banned it was. In essence, he was considering switching from United Artists to P. The reason? The report reveals that Joe Schenck was contractually obliged to fund only two of the five films the concern would distribute. By the Summer he had. So it was now S. Had he? Did he have clout in the finance district? Perhaps not. Regardless, the article gives us a tantalising glimpse into the financial turmoil that year; as well as hinting at the distinct possibility that, without the funding or a successful shift to DeMille, his career was at a standstill once again, and potentially over for good.
Despite money troubles, in the June and July announcements came thick and fast. Edwin Justus Mayer would prepare the scenario from his own work minus offending segments. John Emerson had sold the property to Joseph M. However, though the narrative was largely comedic, the role of the Duchess of Florence required someone with a hint of wickedness. Had it influenced the decision? Hard to say. Fred Niblo, another friend, had already directed Rudolph Valentino four years earlier in Blood and Sand. Fairbanks Sr.
And, after, the chief director of Ben-Hur His affinity with both the Star and United Artists meant that he was an excellent choice. We can only imagine the conversations between these two reunited individuals had it been possible for them to again collaborate.
He would then have been in Italy with Niblo, in and , after the Metro-Goldwyn merger. Not much more is known about the planned film. And possibly sketches for sets were stored and saved. I saw no mention, anywhere, of the person responsible for the look of the film; though it was, almost certainly, William Cameron Menzies.
As for the costumes? Gilbert Adrian is, in my opinion, the most likely person. Though it could easily have been another. When it comes to his dress, we are able to picture Rudy as his fellow countryman, when we view him in the imaginary Sixteenth Century sequence in Cobra see above top. And in which, by some strange twist of fate, he portrays Benvenuto Cellini. If he could sport a beard in and in TSotS then past issues with facial hair — his modest growth in for the doomed The Hooded Falcon had elicited comment — were probably behind him.
Not a bad thing, as Cellini was seriously bearded. I saw nothing anywhere about what Rudolph Valentino was feeling about the planned blockbuster. And this is understandable as he was busy promoting The Son of the Sheik. He had, according to reports, here and there, longed to portray a famous Italian. Cesare Borgia being an example. And he was never more at home than when he embodied a Rebellious Lover.
The film based on the play offered the opportunity to be both. I like to think his copy of The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini was tucked into his luggage in the final weeks. It was certainly in the auction of his belongings at the close of the year. The careful preparations since May — probably earlier — were of no use. Much time and effort had been wasted. And his anger and frustration in the interviews he agreed to in the aftermath was palpable. Almost instantly, and without hesitating, he laid bare, before Americans and the World, the most private information of the dead Icon.
All Rudy had in his bank account was a few hundred dollars. He had, he said, recently earned over a million dollars and spent every cent. He was a gullible man easily parted from his cash. Had no investments to speak of and only a little property. I find the hard frankness of JMS astonishing. Did he need to be subjected to further humiliation? Exposed on the 23rd of August, and on subsequent days, as a reckless thoughtless simpleton, who had no common sense, and never thought about the future? Even if it was partly, or wholly true, was it necessary to reveal such particulars? And to tip revelations on the corpse like the contents of an emptied waste paper basket?
The Rudolph Valentino Brown Story: The Rise of the Legendary House of Brown Hair Salon
And sure enough I discovered that, inside a fortnight, it was announced nothing would prevent a pay out on the policies held by United Artists. The deceased Screen Star had been an extremely unwell individual who foolishly failed to seek medical attention. And he had also lived beyond his means and run up serious debts. These two derogatory halves of the story combined to form a compelling, advantageous whole; one that to this very day weighs heavy. Soon it was further explained that the profits on other pictures easily covered his borrowing. That Joe was an unsentimental, hard-nosed business man is clear.
Plain as it could be. And such was his lack of sentiment that he soon began attempting to rescue Cellini. Signed to a two year contract, with Feature Productions Inc. However, we know that by the 2nd of November it had been announced he would direct Norma Talmadge, in Camille. Did the people optioned find the notion a little tasteless? The word went out that there were serious problems resuscitating the production.
In the letter, headed Why Not Joseph Schildkraut? But it never happened. So the story ends there? There never was a film about Cellini based on The Firebrand? Well actually, no, there was. And in my opinion, having viewed it twice, it comes pretty close to what was planned in the Autumn of With the 1st of February set as the start date. Morgan, incidentally, had a decade earlier been Duke Allesandro onstage, in the original theatrical production. For some reason the title changed a few times before completion.
Unusually for the times little was leaked about the actual process of filming. For instance I saw no reports from the set. And there was absolutely nothing anywhere about the fact that it had once been intended for Valentino. Despite being absent from the scene, Cellini is still part of the proceedings, as his recent, outrageous acts are discussed at length. Because of this she persuades the Duke to hang him after the tableware is completed. A knocking sound is responded to by an assistant; and the genius craftsman descends, like Fairbanks Sr.
Thinking himself safe, he wakes the sleeping Angela and attempts to make love to her, then buys her from her grotesque mother brilliantly played by Jessie Ralph. Duke Allesandro arrives. And after a lengthy exchange he takes the love interest away. Which he does in Valentinoesque fashion. Next arrives the Duchess in disguise. And while gentle music plays she uses her own persuasive powers to get what she wants.
Cellini will create and bring to her a golden key that night at 9 p. Benvenuto appears on the top of a high wall. Jumps to a large tree branch. And then makes his way to the ground before scaling the palace and climbing onto the now empty balcony. The tragedy of all great ladies is to discover that the men with the most exaggerated reputations make the poorest lovers. Slaps her which makes her faint. And begins to carry her to a low couch. Angela is sent to the balcony again. Where Benvenuto finds her. Due to there being a reward for his capture he goes to the Duchess and skilfully lies.
Eventually melting her heart by reading aloud the poetry that won over the girl in Venice. The Duke arrives keen for him to be hung. Closely followed by the Duchess keen for him not to be hung. The film now builds to a conclusion. As requested Benvenuto has brought Angela to the banquet for which he created the tableware.
This poses a problem, of course, as Cellini knows that the Duchess will be unhappy to see him with such an attractive female. She never set eyes on her before. However, a goblet tumbles, and we become aware that Ottaviano has succumbed, and Cellini switched their vessels, and pretended to be dead. The ending is a happy one with both couples — the Artist and his Duchess and the Duke and his Angela — together in harmony. Contrasting the play in with the movie in we see few serious discrepancies in the first half.
The majority — the palace, the workshop and the balcony — is the same. And the additions in the second half were thought necessary to balance out the previous fast-paced action. As is the athleticism on both occasions when he arrives at the Summer Palace.
And being as comedic as he had been in The Eagle when it was called for. With his Muse and her mother, the repeated sentences of death, on the balcony, reading from the book and doing a balancing act between the Duke and the Duchess at the dinner. And yet so visual is The Affairs of Cellini that it appears to be a silent with dialogue.
This makes me suspect much of the original was left untouched. Her hand in the air. His eyes watching the purse fall. Back to her and an intertitle. Back to him and an intertitle. Back to her.
And then him stooping down to the floor to pick it up with a smile. Does Fredric March measure up? Is he a good replacement? Not for me. I understand from researching that his wife purchased The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini for him; however, for all his prep. A dearth, perhaps, of what Rudolph Valentino had and nobody else did — or ever would.
Maybe Joseph M. The latter was a huge box office success. Gilbert was once again directed by Vidor in the war epic The Big Parade , which became the second-highest grossing silent film and the most profitable film of the silent era. His performance in this film made him a major star. He then did another with Vidor, Bardelys the Magnificent They soon began a highly publicized relationship, much to the delight of their fans. Gilbert wanted to marry her, but Garbo continually balked. Legend has it that a wedding was finally planned but Garbo failed to appear at the ceremony. Recent Garbo biographers, however, have questioned the veracity of this story.
He was reunited with Garbo in Love , which was a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina. Gilbert and Garbo were teamed for a third time in A Woman of Affairs His last silent film was Desert Nights Mayer over creative, social and financial matters. It was said, for example, that at the alleged double-wedding of Garbo and Gilbert and director King Vidor and actress Eleanor Boardman , Mayer made a crude remark about Garbo that led Gilbert to physically attack the mogul. This story has been disputed by some historians. Although one eyewitness—the bride, Eleanor Boardman—claimed to have seen the assault, others deny that it occurred.
It was suggested that Mayer deliberately gave Gilbert bad scripts and ineffective directors in an effort to void the contract. With the coming of sound, Gilbert's vocal talents made a good first impression in the all-star musical comedy The Hollywood Revue of , appearing in a Technicolor sequence with Norma Shearer.
They played the balcony scene from Shakespeare 's Romeo and Juliet , first as written, and then using current slang. Most reviewers did not note any problems with Gilbert's voice at this time and some praised it. Audiences awaited Gilbert's first romantic role on the talking screen. According to reviewers, audiences laughed nervously at Gilbert's performance. The fault was not Gilbert's voice, it was said, but the awkward scenario along with overly ardent love scenes.
In one, Gilbert keeps kissing his leading lady, Catherine Dale Owen , while saying "I love you" over and over again. Director King Vidor stated that Rudolph Valentino , Gilbert's main rival in the s for romantic leads, probably would have suffered the same fate in the talkie era, had he lived. It was rumored that L. Mayer ordered Gilbert's voice to be gelded to a higher pitch to ruin him.
He followed it with Gentleman's Fate Gilbert became increasingly depressed by progressively inferior films and idle stretches between productions, but he resolved to thwart Louis B. Mayer and see the six-picture contract through. Gilbert's fortunes were temporarily restored when MGM's production chief Irving Thalberg gave him two projects that were character studies, giving Gilbert an excellent showcase for his versatility.
The Phantom of Paris , originally intended for Lon Chaney who died from cancer in , cast Gilbert as a debonair magician and showman who is falsely accused of murder and uses his mastery of disguise to unmask the real killer. Downstairs was based on Gilbert's original story, with the actor playing against type as a scheming, blackmailing chauffeur.
The films were well received by critics and fans but failed to revive his career. Shortly after making Downstairs , he married co-star Virginia Bruce ; the couple divorced in Gilbert fulfilled his contract with an unimportant "B" picture - Fast Workers directed by Browning. Gilbert announced his retirement from acting. Garbo was top-billed, with Gilbert's name beneath the title.
Again, the picture failed to revive his career. Columbia Pictures gave him what would be his final chance for a comeback in The Captain Hates the Sea in which he gave a capable performance as a frustrated playwright. But the off-screen cast of heavy drinkers encouraged his alcoholism and the film was his last. Gilbert was married four times. His first marriage, on August 26, , was to Olivia Burwell, a native of Mississippi whom Gilbert had met after her family moved to California.
They separated the following year and Burwell returned to Mississippi for a while. She filed for divorce in Los Angeles in In February , Gilbert announced his engagement to actress Leatrice Joy. They married in Tijuana in November The marriage was tumultuous and, in June , Joy filed for legal separation after she claimed that Gilbert slapped her face after a night of heavy drinking. They reconciled several months later. In August , Joy, who was pregnant with the couple's daughter, filed for divorce. By , alcoholism had severely damaged Gilbert's health.
He suffered a serious heart attack in December , which left him in poor health. A private funeral was held on January 11 at the B. Mortuary in Beverly Hills. For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Gilbert has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at Vine Street. John Gilbert is the subject of a mini-documentary film called Rediscovering John Gilbert featuring an on-camera interview with John Gilbert's daughter and biographer, Leatrice Gilbert Fountain. The short film, directed and produced by film historian Jeffrey Vance , has aired on the Turner Classic Movies cable channel and is also available on DVD from home video distributor Flicker Alley.
Gilbert has been portrayed in several films. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see John Gilbert disambiguation and John Pringle disambiguation. Logan, Utah , U. Bel Air, California , U. Olivia Burwell m. Leatrice Joy m. Ina Claire m. Virginia Bruce m. This section has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.
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