Thursday, June 10, 2021

Renato Floris Shares Thoughts on the Brothers Valentino

 In Italy we say: Fratelli coltelli! (Brothers Knives or Knife Brothers)

I have often wondered how Alberto really was towards Rodolfo and how Rodolfo was towards Alberto.

Alberto was born on April 5, 1892 and did not have a simple life. As a teenager, he had to assume the role of father for his siblings Rodolfo and Maria due to the death of their father, which occurred on March 24, 1906.

It is not well known why Alberto abandoned his studies to become a lawyer nor why in December 1912, when he was just twenty, he married the 24-year-old Ada Del Mazzone; a wedding hastily celebrated at the bedside of Ada who, at the time, was very ill.

Alberto then went to Reggio Calabria where, after following a local prefecture course, he obtained the qualification of Municipal Secretary. His first job was that of municipal secretary of Santeramo in Colle where on August 14, 1914 the birth of Jean was recorded.

Years passed and Rodolfo became a star of the first magnitude in the Olympus of movie stars and, with his fame, came a lot, a lot of money.

I guess there were good reasons why Alberto left the security of a job in public administration to wear the hat of the European representative of Rudolph Valentino Productions. At the time Alberto was in Rome, the heart of the public administration and certainly he was destined to a prominent position. But following his decision to become Rodolfo's alter ego in Europe, he decided to close his house and transfer the family to Paris. He enrolled Jean in school at the prestigious Roman high school Terenzio Mamiani. This is reported as a school of origin when Jean was enrolled in the San Giuseppe high school in Turin immediately after Rodolfo's death.

The death of Rodolfo revolutionized and not in a light way, the situation of Alberto who had already resigned from the position of government official and was ready to move to Paris to occupy the prestigious position of his brother's administrative alter ego.

I am sure Rodolfo's death was like a lighting bolt which forced Alberto to make drastic decisions. He enrolled his son in a school close to his maternal grandparents, who at the time lived in Turin, left his wife Ada in Turin, who would later join her husband in Los Angeles, who was there attempting to settle his brother's hereditary affairs.

Hereditary affairs which were not so easily settled. As the surviving brother, Alberto assumed he was by default a certain heir of Rodolfo as was his sister Maria. They were not. Rodolfo's will, devoid of an important annex, implied the heirs were Alberto, his sister Maria and Natacha Rambova's Aunt Teresa, when the actual heir was the nephew Jean Guglielmi.

Despite, Alberto threw himself headlong into what remained of his brother, certain of or pretending to be an heir, relegating his sister Maria to a minor position and denying Natacha's aunt any position.

With the impetuousness of a samurai, Alberto threw himself upon everything which once belonged to Rodolfo, taking it for granted that everything was due to him. He took possession of Rodolfo's cars, dogs and many valuables including monetary advances, as if by divine right.

Things weren't quite as Alberto believed and in order to defend his prosperous future, he did everything he could to be considered his brother's heir. It appears he felt he had some right to be repaid for some important favor he did for Rodolfo.

Some of Valentino's fans describe Alberto as being rich with great affection and attention for Rodolfo but, according to certain testimonies, it does not appear that this was the case.

Alberto's misfortune was to take everything for granted; feeling entitled to access to a prestigious role even if he had no experience in the field of cinema. The leap he attempted to make from being a proud emissary of his brother to that of a movie star of the highest magnitude, went to his head.

Certainly there are still things to discover about the Guglielmi brothers' relationship.

I ask those who claim they are so sincere and honest, to tell us how things really were.

To all the others I say: don't be so fast to take things for face value.


  1. Favors sure do come with strings attached, don't they! I can't wait to hear more!

  2. I bet Alberto was jealous as hell of Rudy's looks, success, and worldwide acclaim. It would be hard not to be.

  3. Thank you, Mr. Floris, for your insight concerning the relationship between Rudolph Valentino and his brother, Alberto. I believe the popular notion that the siblings were close is totally implausible. Alberto even admitted their personalities were complete opposites, describing himself as “calm, studious, and serious.” His 3 years younger brother was, according to him, sexually precocious, irresponsible, and “batsy.” After Rodolfo left for America, the brothers did not see each other again for the next 10 years. In my opinion, the biggest blunder occurred when, after Valentino’s death, Alberto assumed he could change his name to Valentino and easily assume the mantle of International Movie Star. I don’t think Alberto ever really understood the complexity of Rudolph Valentino’s effect upon 1920s popular culture and how his charisma translated through all language barriers, particularly with women. Rudolph Valentino was irreplaceable. Alberto found that out the hard way and, perhaps, he was a bit resentful his reckless little brother was able to become so successful.

    1. Thanks for your comment, I am pleased to see that there are not so few of us who believe that there was no good relationship between the two brothers. They were certainly acting as a front for the press and for the comfort of Valentino's fans. Note that his sister Maria never claimed rights that she did not have.

    2. Even the haters would agree...he was irreplaceable. We finally found some common ground!

  4. From childhood it appears that Alberto was marked as the sober, successful brother and Valentino as the charming ne’er do well. Those assigned roles stick. It is significant that Alberto had no window into Valentino’s formative decade outside of Italy as he neither participated in nor witnessed it. From where Alberto stood, it must have looked like a cinch to pull off for himself what his “batsy” brother had done in the United States.

    1. It certainly makes one wonder who in the hell convinced Alberto to step onto the screen. Any idiot could have told him that this would be very difficult to successfully pull off. Very ignorant assumption and very naive.

  5. That damned Nita Naldi gets on my nerves! She's not all that great and comes across as a villain on the screen and in real life as well. I can't stand her, she's so annoying! Then again, I'm sure she was used to being disliked by fans and they didn't know even about the ugly things she did to people off the screen.