Before there were movie stars, there were silent movie stars.
Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina D’Antonguolla, or more commonly known as Rudolph Valentino, was a big name in the 1920s, and his short life provided a large impact on the Latino community.
Born in Italy, at the age of 18 Valentino left for the United States to try his luck. He had a hard struggle securing any sort of financial stability, working odd jobs. It wasn’t until 1917 that his career started to break free. In that time, Valentino joined an operetta company. When the group disbanded he joined another stage production that brought him to Los Angeles, and then San Francisco. In San Francisco, Valentino befriended an actor by the name of Norman Kerry. Kerry’s the man who convinced Valentino to try his hand at film acting.
When he first began screen-acting, he played a lot of small roles in movies and was usually cast as a villain or a gangster. But this wasn’t good enough for Valentino. He wanted to be playing different parts, bigger parts…as any actor would 🙂
Opportunity shined upon him in the year 1921. While he was filming a movie called “Stolen Moments” (notably his last film where he plays a villain), Valentino had started to read a novel called The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, written by Vicente Blasco Ibanez. After finishing the novel, Valentino learned about a company called Metro (prior to its merge with Goldwyn Picture Corporation to create Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) had acquired the rights to the plotline. The screenplay written by June Mathis, the first female executive in the history of film. She was allowed to give her input on who should direct and star in her adaption, and she chose Valentino, having seen him act in “Eyes of Youth” and being impressed with his work. “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” went on to not only be the sixth highest grossing silent film ever but skyrocketed Valentino to stardom.