Silent : Rudolph Valentino.

Rudolph Valentino.

I just watched a 10 minute segment on him (far too short imo) on Talking Pictures TV. It says he died in 1926 owing 200,000 dollars despite apparently earning 5 million in his short career.
The thing I have been thinking about is his early death in 1926. Had he not passed a mere couple of years before talkies took over, do you think his career would have suffered the same fate as many other silent stars who had accents etc..?
I wonder because his early passing secured his legacy. And if he had indeed lived on, his life and career might have stalled due to talkies, causing him to become one of the many forgotten stars of the silent era.

Re: Rudolph Valentino.

Hi Jamie,

Interesting question.

I have also always wondered if Valentino would have made the transition to talkies or not. We'll never know, but given that so many Silent stars didn't do well in talkies, I think it's likely that the transition wouldn't have been smooth for him either.

He was such a big star and had a huge number of fans though, they may have stayed loyal and gone to all his films regardless of what his voice sounded like. He may have been lucky and still been offered roles.

I always feel sorry for the actors who didn't make the transition, it must have been difficult for them, one moment they were adored and the next they were yesterdays news.


Go to bed Frank or this is going to get ugly .

Re: Rudolph Valentino.

Funny you mention about him being a huge star as that still did not help some of those silent stars when it came to transitioning to talkies (Chaplin is probably the biggest name that survived the change even though he did not make a full talkie until 1940).
But being a heartthrob might have been enough to carry Rudolph through to the talkie era as like you say he had many, many fans, with some committing suicide after news broke of his passing.
Like you say we will never know, although I would like to think he would have made the change had he lived to see it.

I too feel bad for the actors who enjoyed years of work in silent film, only to be cast aside when it became apparent they would not be bankable in talkies.

Re: Rudolph Valentino.

His accent would have been less of a problem than shedding the acting style of silent films and the romantic character that established him as "the great lover," which worked well without sound but could have been disastrous with the addition of dialogue.

That was amusingly, yet realistically, pointed out in Singing In The Rain when Gene Kelly attempted to use silent technique in his first talking picture.

Another example is John Gilbert whose romantic image was totally out of synch with the tough talking Broadway style gangster and musical films of the early thirties. His voice wasn't as bad as legend tells us, but it was thin, especially when compared to Cagney, Robinson and Gable, all of whom projected a more macho persona than the slightly built Gilbert. He struggled for years, but was never able to regain his audience.

There is a recording of Valentino singing, and his Italian accent is quite pleasing, but we will never know if he was adaptable enough to survive sound or he would have eventually been relegated to supporting parts like Antonio Moreno and Ramon Navarro, other late twenties ethnic heartthrobs.

We are the makers of music and we are the dreamers of dreams.

Re: Rudolph Valentino.

I never thought about the style of acting being a possible reason for not being able to make the transition to talkies. I always thought it would have been the lack of being able to get rid of their strong accents (even with the help of a voice coach) that would lead to a silent actors career demise.

I would like to have a listen to the recording you mention, it would be nice to put a voice to the face, even if he is singing instead of talking. I don't suppose it is on YouTube or somewhere like that?

Re: Rudolph Valentino.


I would like to have a listen to the recording you mention, it would be nice to put a voice to the face, even if he is singing instead of talking. I don't suppose it is on YouTube or somewhere like that?




Valentino recorded two songs in 1923 which are on YouTube. Just type his name and you will find the selection that will take you to them. Keep in mind that the recording devices of 1923 were primitive and the recordings have deteriorated over the years. They probably sound far worse to our ears than Valentino actually sounded.

We are the makers of music and we are the dreamers of dreams.

Re: Rudolph Valentino.

I'm not up on Valentino's pre-movie career; did he have experience at acting on the live stage?

- What are you gonna do, when the world catches on?

Re: Rudolph Valentino.

I have had a look around and it appears he did do stage work of some sort.
So it looks likely he would have spoken good enough English for the American stage shows he was involved in.

But when I see a silent movie I kind of have an idea of what I think said Actor/Actress would sound like based on their face, so maybe the problem was Actors voices being completely different to the fans/audience pre-conceived idea of what they should sound like after seeing them in multiple silent films.

Re: Rudolph Valentino.


I have had a look around and it appears he did do stage work of some sort.



Valentino was a taxi dancer in clubs, which meant he danced with various women for 10 cents a dance. He never did legitimate stage work, plays, musicals, etc.

In Hollywood, he began making the rounds of the studios and did minor work in a few silents. June Mathis, producer of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, saw him in a movie and picked him for a small part in her film. The rest is history.

We are the makers of music and we are the dreamers of dreams.
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