Thursday, June 3, 2021

Elvis & Rudy

I received the following message (with image below) and thought I would share it here as I found it interesting. I did receive permission to post this and thank the author for the insight. 

"Oh my goodness! I don't know how it is that I just now ran across your podcast "Valentino's Moment of Opportunity" but I can say it is one of my favorite ones. I loved your analysis of how the timing of his fame was perfectly aligned with the birth of radio becoming commonplace in the average home, the new media of radio as a vast marketing tool for advertising, the discovery of King Tut's tomb, etc. Fascinating how all of that played into the timing of his skyrocketing fame!

I'm a big Elvis fan and have read every book I could get my hands on about him. I can see many eerie parallels between Rudy’s and Elvis’ lives. Let’s start with Elvis’s moment of opportunity. Elvis's fame can be attributed to perfect timing just like Rudy’s. He was a white, southern boy who was raised near poor, black areas. He grew up listening to black gospel music and really became infused with much of that sound. So, when this nice-looking white kid who sang like a black man arrived upon the scene, it was an explosion yet unseen in the white music world. He and Rudy both rode the wave of fame because the perfect storm of timing thrust them into the center of it.

These two men each enjoyed collecting expensive cars, driving fast, were avid horsemen, owned many dogs, and had reckless spending habits which forced to them to accept work that they really didn’t want to take. But this is only the tip of the iceberg of what they had in common. Rudy and Elvis both had a unique sense of style. Elvis dressed like no other, sang like no other, moved like no other. Rudy was an elegant dresser who wore jewelry when most American men did not. The media insulted him and questioned his masculinity because of this.

Rudy and Elvis were both criticized for corrupting American youth and were denounced by “proper” society. Rudy’s passion and sensuality on screen was something that did not exist to that degree until he came along. Along with his sensual lovemaking on film, Rudy inflamed women’s desires with the sexy Argentinian Tango. Gasp! Hips and thighs touching during most of the dance! Such filth! Thirty years after Rudy’s death along came Elvis Presley with his suggestive, swiveling pelvis. His dancing was also called immoral and sinful he was blamed for the downfall of American youth.

They both had immense charisma and influenced American culture in a way that is still pretty much unmatched. Both were known for their impeccable manners and for being polite. Both men wanted to be serious artists but were trapped in roles that they were unable to break out of. Rudy was not at all happy about being known for The Sheik and especially did not want to make the second Sheik film. Elvis was trapped in movie contracts in which the studios churned out utter crap. This was deeply disturbing to him. His natural acting ability was never allowed to fully develop and was tragically suppressed. He received critical acclaim for his role in King Creole and was highly praised for Jailhouse Rock but everything to follow was complete trash.

Rudy and Elvis were both highly spiritual men. Each one was on a spiritual quest and had an unquenchable desire for knowledge outside of accepted religious norms. Rudy’s search led to the study of metaphysical topics such as manifesting and the Law of Attraction, communication with spirit guides, numerous visits to psychic mediums, and a belief in communicating with spirits via automatic writing. Elvis was a voracious reader and poured over many spiritual books. One of his favorites books was “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran and he owned several books by that author. He studied Eastern religions, Kriya Yoga, meditation, theosophy, psychic healing powers, numerology, and enjoyed intense philosophical conversations.

Both men were extremely close to their mothers and were 22 and 23 years old when their mothers died. The death of Rudy’s mother and his loneliness for her was a driving force in his impulsive marriage to Jean Acker. After Elvis lost his mom his life took a different trajectory, and not for the better. I can’t help but wonder if Gabriella Guglielmi and Gladys Presley had lived long enough for their sons to reach middle age if both men would not have died so tragically young. The entrapment, pressures, and isolation of fame caused Valentino and Elvis to cope by turning to prescription drugs (Elvis) and alcohol (Rudy). Would this still have been their default coping mechanism had their mamas been alive? Two beloved, unique, and talented individuals were gobbled up by the double-edged sword of fame."



7 comments:

  1. This is a very intriguing essay. Anyone who is a fan of both these icons cannot help but notice the parallels in their lives. I distinctly remember Elvis' sudden and unexpected death (like that of Valentino) and the chaos that ensued on the streets of Memphis. One network covering the pandemonium actually showed film of the crowd outside of Campbell's Funeral Home where Rudy lay in state and compared it with what was happening in front of Graceland. The similarities are unmistakable.

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    1. That's a great comparison and I'm glad you touched on it.

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  2. Interesting. But I’m not sure the comparison really holds up. Elvis was a deeply neurotic man and evidenced very strange behavior throughout his life. Valentino was blessedly free of any such pathologies. More importantly though, Valentino’s bond with his mother is made so much more of than was the reality. A man obsessively tied to his mother would never dream of leaving her at age 18 for another part of the world. Especially, as both Valentino and his mother knew, it was very likely they would never see one another again.

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  3. My humble opinion about it, the life of Elvis, also given the times in which he lived, was much more "public" than was Valentino's. The Valentino we know is, for the most part, a construction of the press offices of the studios to which has been added mountains of allusions and innuendo. The Valentino of which we talk extensively in all the blogs and in many biographies, is not so transparent. I do not know if he had pathologies or if he did which kind of pathologies. But from the little that is known, he loved and respected his mother and it is my opinion that his going to the United States was not his choice but of those who stayed behind in Italy and who did not want his rash behavior to ruin the family reputation. It is not yet clear what was hidden in his statement to journalist Alma Whitaker who asked him about his childhood, Rudy replied he was a, "very troublesome boy who occasioned his mother much sorrow." He then explained to Miss Whitaker that she could, "never, never know the sorrow" that he caused his poor, dear mother in the days before he left Italy. I believe that these words hide a great secret yet to be revealed, and I am sure there are those who know this secret but do not dare to reveal it.

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    1. Love your thoughts on this! What kind of secrets could be so bad in this day and age that would shock and horrify us? Other than Rudy being part Reptilian, WHAT could be so outrageously awful to cause such shame in that family?

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  4. Very interesting discussion!

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    1. It most certainly is interesting, but Valentino was not that close to his mother

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