Friday, July 31, 2020

The Masked Model - Part Two

With a bit more to add in regards to Rudolph Valentino and “The Masked Model” tour in the spring of 1917, I share the following:

In my previous post, “The Masked Model”, I referred to Valentino's alleged firing and departure from the show, which was reported in the biography of Max Steiner, “The Masked Model's” musical director. Steiner claims at some point as the show crossed the country, Valentino (“Mons. Rudolph” as he was billed then) had a dispute with the show's director and was fired.

It is also alleged in most of Rudolph Valentino's biographies, that the show went bankrupt and folded before it ever reached San Francisco. I dispute all of these claims.

Perhaps Max Steiner had a memory to draw upon and perhaps there was a dispute between Valentino and the show's director. But according to the show's announcements and the general press still in existence today, I do not believe Valentino was fired from the show nor did he leave his position with the show in disgrace. Not at all.

The show did not go broke but toured all the way to San Francisco and beyond as it headed south to Los Angeles. “Mons. Rudolph” and his dancing partner, Edith Mason appear in the Reno show the end of May prior to the San Francisco show. I contend Reno is not so far from San Francisco!

The timing of Rudolph's leaving “The Masked Model” has recently been the subject of some investigation by a researcher friend of mine as I mentioned in my previous post. Thanks to more of their discoveries, we know Valentino did not perform in the San Francisco show but he and Edith Mason appear to have rejoined the show in Sacramento and Fresno from June 12-June 19th.

The curious timing of these appearances meant Valentino was actually performing in two shows as he is also listed in the cast of “Nobody Home” on June 11th. Granted “Nobody Home” played in Oakland and “The Masked Model” in Sacramento which is located exactly 68 miles away. It could have been possible.

But this disputes the claim by Steiner that Valentino was fired and left in disgrace. In fact we find the opposite as he is advertised for his performance in, “Nobody Home” by citing his “starring” role in “The Masked Model”. Although Joseph Lertaro (see my previous post) was clearly the star of “The Masked Model”, Valentino was billed as being the star in some of the promotional advertisements for “Nobody Home”. “Nobody Home” was billed as an, “enormous success” and he appears in the cast until early October.

After their appearance in Sacramento and in Fresno, Valentino and Edith Mason disappear from “The Masked Model” cast and he apparently works only in “Nobody Home”. We know he joined the cast of “The Passing Show” subsequently and this was how he came to Los Angeles. But I believe there was one other factor contributing to the end of Valentino's reputable and prestigious vaudeville stage career about this time.

We learn from the personal account of Douglas Gerrard as revealed in The True Rudolph Valentino by Baltasar Cue, that Valentino arrived in Los Angeles in late fall of 1917 and was suffering from a dubious reputation for having been involved with the DeSaulles divorce and John DeSaulles murder. We also read how Thomas Meighan lectured Valentino about his tarnished reputation and Alla Nazimova openly called him a “pimp”. I believe this came about because his reputation worsened after August 3rd.

On August 3, 1917, as Valentino was starring in the, “enormously successful”, “Nobody Home”, he would have learned Blanca DeSaulles murdered her husband. I contend that previous to August 3rd, he enjoyed success as a revue dancer as his reputation was not so sullied. His being involved in a divorce in New York was scarcely material to ruin a reputation.... but murder sure was.

He was not fired in disgrace from “The Masked Model” but took on another role in another show; a show billing him as a feature act. He was already well known on the vaudeville musical variety circuit and previous to August 3rd, there is nothing but more work for him and acknowledgment. He was not unemployed but over-employed.

But on August 3rd, the DeSaulles murder made national headlines and this changed things I believe and made life for Mons. Rudolph much, much more treacherous. Monsieur Rudolph's professional reputation took a heavy hit when Blanca DeSaulles fired that gun...and perhaps it was more for that reason that he leaves the cast of “Nobody Home” to head south from San Francisco.

Edith Mason vanishes after the Sacramento and Fresno shows and no trace of her later life and career can be found. There is an opera star named Edith Mason who dominates the search but this is not the seventeen-year old who danced her way across the country with Rudolph Valentino.

I am curious about Max Steiner's memory of Valentino being fired somewhere on the tour and having to be fed and housed by cast members. Perhaps there was a falling out along the way, but Mons. Rudolph and Edith Mason appear in every show all the way to San Francisco.

“The Masked Model” did not fail financially and I think Rudolph found more employment and left the show in a smart career move. No doubt he was ready to leave the competition with Joseph Lertaro behind for a more starring role in “Nobody Home” and perhaps for the opportunity to dance with Miss Jane Urban!

Jane Urban was hugely popular at the time, a powerful force in the Bay Area's theater scene and the director of the Orpheum Theater. For Valentino to accept a position as her dancing partner then was a savvy career move and he would have benefited professionally. Although he appeared on stage with the impressive Ms. Urban, his rise to even more fame did not occur.

I think we can also add to the reasons why he left San Francisco when he did and why.. the reality that his reputation was savaged when Blanca DeSaulles shot and killed her husband. Did he become a pariah? Did Jane Urban want nothing to do with him?

It makes one wonder where he was when he heard the news and how quickly the fallout affected him. He would turn to friends, Norman Kerry, Frank Mennillo and head out of town to try his hand in a new profession; the movies. I guess the young vaudeville variety dancer, seeking to reinvent himself.. had some very heavy baggage to carry at the time.

I say August 3rd was the game changer.

More to come?



The Fresno Morning Republican - June 12, 1917



The Fresno Morning Republican - June 19, 1917


The Sacramento Bee - June 9, 1917


The Sacramento Bee - June 9, 1917




Valentino is not mentioned as star in The Masked Model




Valentino dances with Jane Urban




Contact: evelyn@affairsvalentino.com

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Mr. Bernard V. Bothmer

Yesterday I posted this image on my Beyond Valentino Instagram account and wanted to expand to say more about the gentleman on the left of the photograph, Bernard V. Bothmer. I had a special mission to accomplish in finishing Michael Morris' last book and this involved this iconic Egyptologist. 


Left to right: Bernard V. Bothmer, Alexander Piankoff, Helene Piankoff & Natacha Rambova

When Michael Morris published Madam Valentino in 1991, he did not know the identity of the gentleman on the left of this fantastic photo and labeled him as "unidentified Egyptologist". He learned about him after publication and wanted to remedy this oversight in Beyond Valentino. As I completed Michael's book after his death in 2016, I was in contact with the Chicago House in Luxor and it was then I learned Bernard V. Bothmer was devastated that he was not identified in the image. 

I made sure he was in Beyond Valentino. I want to share some pages from his diary from his trip to Egypt in 1950; pages in which he speaks about meeting "Miss Rambova" beginning on his "January 20" entry. His entire diary is available. I cite credit to these images to the publication: Oxbow Books, 2003, Edited by Emma Swan Hall. I have also shared a couple of links to the book and to a piece on Bothmer because he was quite a remarkable man. Enjoy! 








https://www.ajaonline.org/book-review/438

Monday, July 27, 2020

Renato Floris Defends His Wife, Evelyn Against Tracy Terhune's Bullying


The following is my dear husband Renato's response to Tracy Ryan Terhune's disgusting, ageist and defamatory post he made on my birthday on the blog he has run for eight years and counting under my book's title to deceive my web traffic. I should feel sorry for someone like Tracy Terhune, who can only wish he had the kind of love Renato and I share. For if he did he would not be so eager to insult and cruelly torture the elderly. And I am proud to say that is what we are.

Renato responds to this latest and mind-bogglingly ageist BS. I warn any of Tracy Terhune's associates and friends that if they are of any advanced age... this is what Tracy Terhune thinks of you. Making fun of someone who was and is fortunate enough to have lived this long only reveals his true nature.

Renato writes:

“Tracy Ryan Terhune says Evelyn is deteriorating....

This as his happy birthday wish for the seventy-two beautiful years Evelyn has lived. Tracy Ryan Terhune dared to write and I quote verbatim:

"It's sad seeing deterioration.

Is Evelyn Zumaya in control of her faculties? Asking for a friend ... Just a guess ... Maybe Renato was on the back-porch sipping on Ensure while she typed her 72nd Birthday rant?" 

... and so on and on.

First of all I suggest to Tracy Ryan Terhune that he has to wash his mouth with strong soap before daring to even speak Evelyn's name.

I did not marry Evelyn to allow Tracy Ryan Terhune to insult her, on the pirated blog Evelyn created to tell about her book, a decidedly innovative book.

I did not marry Evelyn to allow Tracy Ryan Terhune to give his condemned altar boy David Bret a pulpit from which to spit his poison.

I didn't marry Evelyn to allow Tracy Ryan Terhune to offend us because we lived "too long".

In these times when the "politically correct" rages, I wonder how a person like Tracy Ryan Terhune is allowed to gather some fans of Rudolph Valentino around the Hollywood Forever crypt.

I wonder why he is allowed to freely insult, ridicule and abuse two elderly people who care about the true story of Rudolph Valentino.

If there is an authority, a serious authority, whether they are descendants of Valentino, the Hollywood Forever administration or any other authority, I ask that because of his actions abusing the elderly and because of his ageist attacks, that Tracy Ryan Terhune not only be prevented from celebrating his macabre rite, I ask that he also be prevented from even accessing the grave of Valentino because for us as his victims...his presence there offends Valentino's memory.

Valentino's descendants may very well be upset with Evelyn because she unearthed the skeletons they jealously kept hidden in ancient trunks in dusty attics. I tell you, “Valentinos”, if you have a bit of dignity left, it is time to clean your conscience and admit the truth. This regardless of your opinions towards Evelyn because a person who acts so publicly like Tracy Ryan Terhune dishonors your relative's final resting place.

If Valentino's descendants want to continue celebrating their benefactor's memory, they could certainly find people far more worthy of the honor than Tracy Ryan Terhune.

I say to the Hollywood Forever cemetery management that I hope you realize that a person exhibiting such behavior as Tracy Ryan Terhune's, does not add luster to your establishment but only brings discredit.

I read, almost every day, about people whose shows are canceled, important contracts closed and people who must hide because maybe they have made a gaffe, a certain bad gaffe. Tracy Ryan Terhune does not make gaffes but worse... he knowingly insults, abuses a woman, ridicules people who are over and brilliantly seventy years old. To me he is one who wants only to show off his toys and recite a psalm from the Holy Bible in a boring, hypocritical, minced and retracted ceremony; supported by the cultural comfort of his companion David Bret. It is my strong desire that Tracy Terhune's Dance Macabre should cease!

Who will provide a good cleaning and honor the memory of that eagle born in a vulture's nest!

I didn't marry Evelyn to allow Tracy Ryan Terhune to continue in his game of massacring her, as long as I live I will fight for a character like Tracy Ryan Terhune to have nothing more to do with Valentino's world.

I say to Tracy Ryan Terhune, Evelyn is far from deteriorating and I think she grows more intelligent and beautiful every day. I am not sipping “Ensure” but my good Italian red wines and if I was drinking Ensure that would be fine too.

If he wonders why I married Evelyn; I married her because of two reasons. The first one is because I love her and the second one because she loves me. I say this so Tracy Terhune knows how much we love each other as by his actions he shows he is one of those angry loveless people who find joy only in hurting others.

#hollywoodforever #tracyterhune #ensure #elderpride #evelynzumaya #renatofloris 

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Masked Model Mystery – Part 1


In a previous post on this blog, titled "The Masked Model", I shared a notice sent to me regarding the book "Max Steiner" by Stephen C. Smith. I learned Max Steiner was the musical director for the road show “The Masked Model” which traveled the U.S. via“the northern route” in the spring of 1917. Rudolph Valentino was a cast member in the show and this is how he left New York City for the west coast.

Max Steiner recollected how Valentino was fired after a disagreement with the show's director and cast members secretly provided Valentino with food and a place to sleep until the show reached San Francisco.

After I posted this tidbit, a friend and researcher began looking into Steiner's allegation. They have since sent me many articles and images from which I share the following commentary. I add they wish to remain anonymous.

We know the show left New York City in early April 1917 and headed to Pittsburgh for a two week engagement. During this time the cast and the show itself went through many changes in preparation for the trip west. Valentino was billed as “Mons. Rudolph”, (Monsieur Rudolph) and he was hired as a ball room dancer. He performed in three numbers, with the audience favorite being a fox trot from “Johnny Get Your Gun”. His dancing partner in The Masked Model was Edith Mason, a seventeen year old protegee who was then so popular she was challenging the reputation of Valentino's previous dance partner in New York, Joan Sawyer.

Edith Mason received far more praise for her physical beauty than her dance moves. But even at seventeen she had already earned a substantial reputation. And in every performance, she danced the ball room steps with Monsieur Rudolph (Valentino!)

The Masked Model would play in Omaha, Lincoln, Iowa City, Denver, Salt Lake City, Reno San Francisco. After their engagement in San Francisco, they would perform down the California coast to Los Angeles. The Masked Model show traveled on a special train with a troupe of sixty-five and they did not loiter. The entire tour took only about one month to reach San Francisco.

Reviews across the country can still be found online in newspaper archives, and they were by and large very positive. It is obvious the show did not experience financial problems as it is often reported to be the case in Valentino biographies. There can be found only small mentions of less ticket receipts after the show reached Los Angeles. Each review of performances across the country reports on the full house and successful ticket sales.

The Masked Model included many well-known personalities at the time including vaudevillian performer Lew Hern. And at some point during the show, a new performer was added to the bill; Joseph Lertaro.

Joseph Lertaro is a cast member of interest as he was Italian by birth and appeared to resemble Valentino. He was twenty-four years old, wore his hair slicked back and was full of old world charm. According to his reviews he could dance...but there was one big difference between Lertaro and Valentino.

Joseph Lertaro could sing. He reportedly could really sing..in fact many people compared him to Caruso and reviews praised his voice and his “pleasant” stage presence. Some local papers carried lengthy interviews with the Masked Model's star, Joseph Lertaro and he was very much a star of the show.

We learn Lertaro's father in New York was known as “The Marshmallow King” and consequently in some reviews Joseph Lertaro is referred to as “The Marshmallow Prince”. He also claims he was asked to perform with the New York Opera company but he refused the offer.

It is fairly obvious Rudolph Valentino could not sing... at least professionally like his countryman Lertaro. The two recordings Valentino made are the only record of his voice, but no matter how endearing they are...he knew he had no career in singing and reportedly wanted all copies of the recordings destroyed.

So as to the mystery of when Valentino left the show.... what was the dispute with the show's director about? When did he leave the show?

Playbills and reviews continue to include Mons. Rudolph in The Masked Model until Reno, Nevada. If he was with the show until Reno, he did not need much help surviving until San Francisco some few hours away. Was he still listed in the cast because the programs were already printed? Did the news reports reference previous notices? Did he actually perform in Reno?

I will venture an hypothesis … I think the appearance of the young, handsome Italian Joseph Lertaro with his voice like Caruso might present a possible clue as to what might have happened. Was there just not room enough in the road show for the two Italians and their mighty egos?

It is also noteworthy in reading all of the articles sent my way, that Edith Mason seems to have disappeared before San Francisco too. The plot thickens.

“The Marshmallow Prince” did not disappear and was front and center when The Masked Model played in San Francisco. His role in The Masked Model would launch his career which was a substantially successful one. After The Masked Model road tour, Lertaro went on to appear in many Broadway shows and once starred with Mae West in her, “Mae West and Company”.

The stage ballroom dancing was not over for Valentino as we know and one article of interest in this regard... When he appeared in the show “Nobody Home” in Oakland after his stint in The Masked Model, he again billed himself as “Monsieur Rudolph”.

So this is what is known to date... and cheers I say that for whatever reason, thankfully Valentino did not end up floundering on Broadway. Within a few months he would be in Hollywood and meet Douglas Gerrard.. and for the rest of that story listen to our latest podcast!


Again I thank the great researcher who did find these articles and piece this together. Excellent work!


The Pittsburgh Press - April 12, 1917


The Pittsburgh Press - April 15, 1917


News Mention about Edith Mason and Monsieur Rudolph



The Ogden Utah Standard, May 11. 1917



 The Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah - May 15, 1917


Joseph Lertora





The Masked Model opens in San Francisco without  Mons. Rudolph or Edith Mason
The San Francisco Examiner, May 20, 1917



Cast members of the Masked Model... Max Steiner second from left, Valentino in center, Lew Hern second from right.  Denver Public Library Photo Credit

Thursday, July 23, 2020

They Would Have to Admit


Despite the years I have spent in my life issuing every possible defense I could to tell the world the lies about us are just that... I do not hold those lower level liars completely responsible for the horror they inflict on us.

Despite Tracy Terhune's order to ghost us, he does the opposite and continues to run that blog under my book's title. If he was speaking the truth about ghosting and “canceling us” as he said... then he would close that blog immediately.

But who tells him what to do? The following is my analysis of how that works based upon my observations made over a few decades of my life and my personal experiences.

I present my thesis that it is the Alberto Valentino family and their spokeswoman Jeanine Villalobos who hold the seat of power and that Tracy Terhune, David Bret, Eleanor Gribbin, Simon Constable, Donna Hill and Cindy Martin do their dirty work.

They are the ones who act publicly on her and the family's behalf while they keep their noses clean.. as the expression goes.

Any argument from the Alberto Valentino family alleging this not to be true would require an explanation for and an admission to the following:

They would have to admit that they told collector Self not to speak with me further. This was in 2003 and I was at the time conducting interviews with him for Affairs Valentino.

They would have to admit that they told me in Turin after my speech at the Convegno Valentino that if I dared to publish the S. George Ullman memoir, they would release incriminating information about Ullman. They did not release this incriminating material because it does not exist.

They would have to admit that when Michael Morris told only them that I was living in Turin, then on the Piazza Vittorio... within hours David Bret had that information and wrote that I was in Turin and he then thanked his spy, whose name was “Vittorio”.

They would have to admit that they swapped one of Rudy's shirts for a case of stolen government documents to prevent them from being publicly available. Donna Hill told me this and I now have confirmation from Cindy Martin. William Self also wrote this to me in an e-mail.

They would have to admit they refused in writing to be interviewed for Affairs Valentino.

They would have to admit they refused to return Michael Morris' materials despite his threatening legal action to retrieve them.

They would have to admit that throughout the entire time Tracy Terhune and David Bret have been flooding the internet with defamatory lies about us and our work, they said absolutely nothing. They would have to admit that this was and is today just fine with them. And in light of all of the experiences I have had in this regard...I do not buy for one second that they are above this fray and have no interest.

They would have to admit that they are just fine with letting someone like Tracy Terhune continue to emcee that burlesque vaudeville show next to Valentino's coffin... every year.

So I don't hold the “team” entirely responsible for their obedience. I saw the look on William Self's face the day he said Jeanine told him he could not meet with me anymore. He enjoyed gabbing with me about Rudolph Valentino and was not happy he was told by the family to shut up. He looked uncharacteristically sheepish. But since it appeared most of his collection had to be purchased back by them and their hench people..after his death....maybe he found a way to be free of their tyranny and have the last laugh anyway.

What are they hiding? Why has the family gone to these lengths to stop Affairs Valentino by being a silent bystander while the “team" heads out for another day of cyber bullying to gain favor with the DNA and who knows... be rewarded with a Rudy shirt? Some photographs?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A Letter to Irene Sharaff

Michael Morris contacted iconic Academy Award winning costume designer Irene Sharaff hoping she could be interviewed for Madam Valentino. Ms. Sharaff and her partner Mai Mai Sze both knew Natacha Rambova. I think his introductory letter to her is a great overview of his intentions and the direction of his research at the time. I am sharing his letter to Sharaff as well as her response.




Sunday, July 19, 2020

El Jadida

Renato and I in El Jadida, Morocco. Although the photographs look scenic, I can not recommend the city as a destination really. It is a far off, challenging place to be but still holds so many memories for us. 


Leaving Genoa.


Going back and forth... aboard the Grandi Navi Veloci


The mosque across the street from our home.


Leeloo has been everywhere. 


It is usually hot. 


Sometimes I am cooperative and cover up. 


Not an uncommon sight. 


With all good intentions the maid decided to buy a bolt of fabric and have everything fresh for us. We nearly went blind. 


The El Jadida beach... a tough place to be all in all for many reasons. 


Home. 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Admirable Douglas Gerrard

Our new podcast is online and we are excited to share this one. I think those with a knowledge of the history of Valentino will find some new insight from this episode.  We also made a video to go with. Enjoy!

https://bit.ly/3998ttX

Friday, July 17, 2020

Eleanor Gribbin Deletes Question About Affairs Valentino, "Hoopla"


I was informed that a woman... just embarking on her study of the life of Rudolph Valentino... posted an inquiry on the Facebook group run by Eleanor Gribbin. This woman posted an image of the cover of Affairs Valentino with the question, “What is all the hoopla about this book”?

I could answer that question point by point and feel I have over the past eleven years, on many blogs, and in a lawsuit even... but I will post as my answer a comment which is currently posted (..in Italian with English translation below) on Renato's Facebook Group @

(Affairs Valentino) is..”A compelling book that I literally devoured in 3 days and that is now being read by my father. The book is the result of a titanic work of documentary research and intellectual courage. Anyone interested in objective and documented truths about Valentino's private life, buy this book and start what for me was a daring and compelling journey, far from the stereotypical narratives of boring and all equal biographies.”

Gribbin positions herself as administrator of a Facebook group on Valentino and what was her response to this woman's honest inquiry about Affairs Valentino?... she just deleted the post.

We know from Cindy Martin that Eleanor Gribbin conspires with Simon Constable, Tracy Ryan Terhune and Donna Hill in their years and years now of lying about and shunning of all of our books...and I will not hold her solely responsible for her rude deletion and censorship.

But I add Gribbin did delete an inquiry about the book Michael Morris was quoted as saying was, “The best written and best researched book on Rudolph Valentino.”

Why would she do that? No doubt because Affairs Valentino is true... and she, along with her team mates are loyalists to the Valentino family who control the ancient and very false narrative about Valentino's life; a version of the story in which the villains are heroes and the actual heroes the villains, a version which fails to report the facts of the story as told in court records and other documentation which the family had, and has, in their possession for decades and kept hidden from anyone's eyes.

Gribbin deletes an inquiry about the most documented and true book on Valentino and she does so to uphold the lies told about it... that is the hoopla. The hoopla being these people's desperate efforts to burn the book, bury it forever and hope no one reads it. But I must admit that when people do read it.. they know the truth and furthermore they know these people are straight up liars.

I hope this woman does read Affairs Valentino and judges for herself. Because on so many occasions over the years, people have contacted me after reading the book to say they specifically bought it and read it after they were told not to.

Gribbin's fast deletion just sold a book no doubt and while she feigns her righteousness and gains favor with the Valentino family... perhaps earning herself a Rudy shirt as a reward...... she bolsters her masquerade by allowing her followers to trash David Bret as if he is some great monster... She appears to distance herself from him completely but I wonder if those followers know she still permits David Bret to be a member of the group.. under his known alias, Albert Morris.... and "Mosko Bosko"..

I say to the censor Eleanor Gribbin.. she can not have it both ways. And if she were indeed someone with an honest interest in Valentino... and not an obedient shill of the Valentino family... she would be encouraging this woman to read the mighty book.

The book at the center of their insanely ridiculous hoopla!

It is all so medieval to burn books, Eleanor Gribbin. Did you know that in the late 1930's the Nazis were burning books to prevent their followers from reading what they considered subversive literature?...and while chuckling as you believed you heaved another copy of my book into the raging fire there... you were actually piquing someone's interest. So should I curse you or thank you?

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Ivanovitch Portrait of Blavatsky

The painting of Helena Petrovna Blavatksy (below) by Paul Ivanovitch was installed originally in the Hudnut chateau on the French Riviera in a room dedicated to her. Ivanovitch was a resident artist at the chateau during the summer of 1926 and painted many family portraits as well as one of Natacha Rambova's friend and psychic George Wehner. The portrait of Wehner I have yet to find.

One day while I was living in Los Angeles, Michael Morris visited and said he had a surprise for me. He took me to a large complex of buildings on Los Feliz Boulevard; The Philosophical Research Society. Michael escorted me into a rather dark room and there it was... the portrait of Blavatsky which I wrote about in the opening section of Affairs Valentino. 

I took this picture of the painting that day and the light was not great but it was just as imposing as I believed it to be. 

From the hilltop above Juan les Pins to Los Feliz Boulevard in Los Angeles, the painting seemed to have survived the years and the trip in fine fashion. 

More about this time in Natacha Rambova's life, Paul Ivanovitch and life at the Hudnut chateau in Astral Affairs Rambova. As far as I know, the painting is still housed here:
https://www.prs.org/


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

More on The Masked Model

These two reviews of The Masked Model were forwarded to me from a reader (Thank-you!), so I will not take credit for finding them. For more about this show read the previous post titled, The Masked Model. Obviously Rudolph Valentino was not in the cast by this time as he had a falling out with the show's director and was fired. The second review will have to be downloaded and enlarged. 


From the Reno Evening Gazette, May 16, 1917


Monday, July 13, 2020

Happy Birthday to Me


On my seventy-second birthday, I resist all anger as I have tried to do for the past eleven years. The other day Renato commented how a child born when the “barbaric opposition” began against us, would now be finishing primary school.

I resist anger because as much as Tracy Terhune and David Bret accuse me of being a hateful person, I am not. Being angry and being hateful are two very different things in my opinion.

The biggest challenge throughout this horror which they continue to inflict.... is to resist matching their wicked states of mind. The hate runs deep in those two, i.e. Terhune and Bret are still writhing over a photograph I took eleven years ago of my cat headed towards her litter box...and stepping delicately I might add on Bret's biography of Valentino. 

Well my cat was not incontinent and was able to take that last step to do her business in the proper place. But the hateful duo Terhune and Bret are still at pitch level outrage saying she shat on the book and then peed on it. Nope she did not because she could not read. 

With that absurd level of hate being dished our way, it takes a really zen state of mind not to match that and hand back more. 

Some time ago a fine author, Thomas McNulty, who wrote a biography of Errol Flynn... took a copy of Bret's Errol Flynn biography out into the woods with a loaded shot gun and shot it to smithereens on camera. I am not alone. I share the link to his shooting. Enjoy. And his review is articulate and worth a read.


So I try to keep turning towards the positive to stay productive in the face of Tracy Terhune's continuing to steal my web traffic and guide them over to his murky world of make believe. Where he "makes" my genuinely interested traffic online "believe" I am a monster and our books "not worth a dime", despite his bragging he keeps his copies in mint condition in plastic cases.

He runs through the streets waving his fistfuls of papers screaming for the villagers to see how horrible I am. Tracy Terhune make-believe I say. Those papers are my manifesto of surviving him; my anger, my rebuttal, my years of responding to his lies about me, Renato and all of our books. And I give him a few more pages here today.

So he can extinguish his torch, close that designated hate blog and get on with his own life.

For me it is my birthday and I am so happy that despite all of Tracy Terhune's attempts to convince the Valentino world we are senile old fools (Terhune's nickname for me is “Fool Zumaya”) .. we are doing well and this past week Renato opened his Italian Rudy Facebook group. And thanks to the modern miracle of online translators, we can all read it. It has been a lively first week in the group with Renato posting his great “finds” and Aurelio Miccoli sharing his outstanding  research!

And this past week I received an e-mail with notice there is a Rudy mention in the book on Max Steiner. Steiner was actually in the Masked Model touring show in 1917. And I know readers remember this show as Rudy's vehicle out of New York. 

It has always been thought the show ran out of money and that is why Valentino was not in such a show on the west coast. This week we learned what really happened. We learn from Max Steiner that Rudy was fired along the way for a disagreement with the director. Rudy made it to the west coast only because a few of his cast mates made sure he had a place to stay in their hotels and brought him food. It could not have been a very easy trip for him.

But how exciting to add even that little detail to the story.

So it is a happy birthday. Stay safe all! 

Check out (and join) the Venerable Renato's group and I love the title... which he borrowed from the Venerable Lokanatha.


Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Masked Model

This past week I received the following image, which I think is of exceptional quality along with a note saying the book on composer Max Steiner includes some mentions of The Masked Model. A very young Max Steiner is seen second from left and I share the book cover as well. The author, Stephen C. Smith writes that Valentino had a falling out with the show's director during the road trip and arrived in San Francisco thanks to the generosity of some of the cast. 



Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Mogul, The Heartthrob and the Mob


Another article I found in my archive... a draft but still I find it interesting...

          "The managing director of United Artists Studios, Joe Schenck spoke to reporters outside New York’s Polyclinic hospital. With his movie star wife, Norma Talmadge by his side, the Hollywood mogul was on the verge of tears as he related the details of his visit with Rudolph Valentino. As Valentino’s employer, Schenck was permitted a brief visit with the gravely ill silent film star.
Schenck and his brother Nick Schenck , President of Loew’s Theaters were pioneers in the motion picture industry. Joe Schenck produced Valentino’s last two movies, The Son of the Sheik and The Eagle and had just signed a new contract to produce two more films with the heart throb. Schenck later founded Twentieth Century Fox Films and managed, without a doubt, to control his movie studios with an iron fist. Joe Schenck had a gift for making profitable alliances which included ties to shady connections with the mob. It would have taken guts to face off with Joe Schenck, but this is precisely what Valentino’s business manager did in the weeks following Valentino’s death. Valentino died following Schenck’s visit and the job of settling his financially involved estate fell to his close friend, business manager and executor, George Ullman. It was in this capacity he took on the formidable Joe Schenck.
In an effort to collect outstanding funds and income due to Valentino’s estate, Ullman held several heated meetings with Joe Schenck. Valentino was contractually promised a percentage of the profits of his movies made with United Artists. Ullman was determined to promote those two films, The Eagle and The Son of the Sheik and generate cash to pay Valentino’s creditors. Schenck offered to buy out Valentino’s interest in the films and told Ullman that no dead man had ever made a cent as a screen actor after their death. Ullman refused the offer, proceeded to aggressively market the films and Schenck eventually paid the Valentino estate over 300,000.00 in royalties. Ullman scored victory after victory over Joe Schenck but was na├»ve as to just who he was crossing in the process.
His situation complicated when Valentino’s only brother arrived in Los Angeles and eventually sued him for fraud and mismanagement of his famous brother’s estate. To Ullman’s dismay, Valentino’s brother retained a fleet of highly-paid attorneys to represent him. The fact that all of these attorneys were affiliated with United Artists was not lost on Ullman. He did not realize at the time that some of the money paying Valentino’s brother’s lawyers was being generated by Schenck’s affiliation with the mob.
While Ullman engaged in what became decades of legal morass which would financially ruin him for life, Schenck’s profits soared during the height of the depression. The flagging national economy was no threat to Schenck’s bottom line or his ability to fund the attorneys…and the reason was due in great measure to one man, Willie Bioff.
Willie Bioff was a mid-level gangster from Chicago who once worked for Jake “Greasy Thumb” Gusik who introduced him to Al Capone and Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti. In the 1930's, Nitti dispatached Willie Bioff to Calfiornia as an enforcer for the mafia controlled union of the powerful International Alliance of Stage Employees. Eventually, Bioff, aided by John “Handsome Johnny” Roselli became the collector for all syndicate controlled unions in Hollywood.
As Nitti's Hollywood front man, Willie Bioff took full advantage of the economic hardships being felt in the motion picture industry. Bioff established a lucrative arrangement with Joe and Nick Schenck. As George Ullman buckled under the weight of Alberto's legal muscle in 1930, Schenck was making millions depriving his employees of overtime pay and their right to strike by handing payoffs to the mafia union front man, Willie Bioff.
There were two sides to the story as to how and why brown paper bundles of cash came to be passed between the Schenck brothers and Willie Bioff. Bioff claimed he was a willing “go-between” and that he had been asked by Nick and Joe Schenck simply to carry cash payments cross country to avoid government regulations. Joe Schenck claimed Bioff was extorting the money. But neither side of the story disputed the fact that while Joe Schenck reaped his million dollar profits, Bioff enjoyed a very high-profile ten carat lifestyle in California.
Whether the cash was handed over to guarantee control over the worker’s union or whether it was being extorted, Nick Schenck managed to keep his nose clean. However Joe Schenck was particularly vincible to Bioff’s presence and his book keeping was as faulty as the entire set-up. When Schenck made one of his payments to Bioff in the form of a personal check for $100,000.00, somehow a photo of the cashed check was forwarded to the Screen Actors Guild’s President, actor Montgomery Clift. Clift contacted the Internal Revenue Service and Schenck’s books went through a thorough scouring by Federal investigators.
The government handed down an indictment and charged Joe Schenck with income tax evasion and demanded a payment of $413,000 in taxes. He cooperated with the government and in exchange faced only a charge of perjury. To avoid a lengthy prison sentence, Schenck cut a deal with the Federal government and divulged every detail of his operations with Bioff, who he referred to as the racketeer ruler of the stagehands union. Schenck claimed Bioff had extorted millions from him and his brother by wielding the threat of union strikes at the height of the great depression.
After Schenck's testimony to the grand jury, every studio head in Hollywood was subpoenaed to testify as well as the most notorious Chicago and Hollywood mob bosses. Bioff was indicted for tax evasion, extortion and racketeering, along with a number of his associates. He testified against his companions, including Paul “The Waiter” Ricca, Philip D'Andrea, Charlie “Cherry Nose” Gioe, Johnny Roselli,, Lou Kaufman and Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti. Shortly after Bioff's testimony, Nitti put a gun to his head and committed suicide.
During the trial, Bioff maintained he “did it all for Joe Schenck.” He claimed he was a willing messenger and nothing more and painted a detailed and cozy picture of Joe Schenck cutting him in on a poker game and staking him for $8000.00. The jury didn’t buy word of his trumped up story and he was convicted on income tax fraud in California and found guilty of violating the anti-racketeering statute.
By 1941, the once powerful mogul who produced Valentino’s best movies, The Son of the Sheik and The Eagle and visited him on his deathbed was doing time in a federal penitentiary in Danbury, Connecticut serving a five year sentence on a conviction of three counts of tax evasion and one count of committing perjury to a grand jury.
Joe Schenck would not serve a long term as he was pardoned by Truman and then returned to Hollywood. Upon his release, Bioff moved to Arizona and assumed a new identity, "William Nelson" and developed a friendship with Senator Barry Goldwater helping contribute to his reelection campaign fund and even going into business with the senator's nephew, Bobby. Bioff was assassinated on November 4, 1955, through a bombing which was described as:
“Bioff walked out of his home and slid behind the wheel of his truck. A moment later, an explosion rocked the neighborhood. Parts of Bioff and his truck were strewn all over the driveway. Police found the remains of a dynamite bomb wired to the starter. The killers were never found.”