Sunday, October 4, 2020

Mike LiCalzi Tells His Story

Mike LiCalzi's fifteen minutes of fame. Mike LiCalzi was a New York City cab driver who probably had no idea he would be the subject of a blog post in the year 2020...but he is. What a valuable contribution Mike LiCalzi made to the story of Valentino's last night on the town, I guess you could call it.

I found the cabbie's story in the archive of Irving Schulman, Valentino biographer. Schulman's archive in 2004, was housed in the Special Collections Department of the University of Southern California. I was surprised on my arrival to see his entire Valentino archive in the Rare Book room, consisting of only a couple of boxes. Other than his notes and drafts of the book, those boxes contained copies of many newspaper articles and a sizable scrapbook.

The scrapbook was meticulously kept and contained Valentino articles which primarily referred to his death and funerals. It was in this scrapbook I found the article and this image of cabbie LiCalzi.

Mike LiCalzi picked up Valentino and his date on that fateful evening, Marion Benda outside her apartment at about 3 a.m. LiCalzi then drove Valentino and Marion Benda to Barclay Warburton's apartment. The cabbie tells the story of Valentino not being able to rouse anyone to let them him as he whistled up at Warburton's apartment windows. The cabbie recalls in detail how Valentino left Marion in the cab to enter the building through a side door to reappear in a few minutes through the front door, pay the one dollar and sixty cent fare and escort Marion to Warburton's apartment.

The elevator operator would also deliver his statement attesting to the timing. He recalls taking Valentino and Marion down to the hotel lobby from Marion's apartment about 3 a.m...and seeing Valentino hailing LiCalzi's cab. (Affairs Valentino, p. 330)

Schulman's citation to the source of the article is simply, The Graphic. 


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