Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Is This Pola?

I am posting the image below to see what you think about the woman seated front, left.

Michael Morris' contact in Mallorca, discovered and interviewed Maria Salome...the god- daughter of Natacha and her second husband, Alvaro de Ursaiz. Maria's parents were a domestic couple working for Natacha and Alvaro. Maria swore her parents told her Pola Negri visited Natacha and Alvaro and this is Pola seated on the left (see below).

Pola Negri was living on the French Riviera at the time and did visit Mallorca. But somewhat hard for me to fathom Natacha would welcome her to her Mallorcan home. Perhaps she did.

Natacha is barely in the photo on the left with a white turban, gentleman on her left in the striped shirt is Alvaro, next to him Mai Mai Sze, Chinese-American painter and writer and life partner of costume designer, Irene Sharaff. Rambova knew her through the Bollingen Foundation as both Rambova and Sze's work received funding from the foundation.

Is this Pola Negri?



* When Michael Morris passed away he was still negotiating the rights for these fabulous and rare images. I worked with the Mallorcan contact, secured the rights to the photos and convinced him to write an essay on Rambova and the Spanish Civil War. It is extensive and definitive. Beyond Valentino, Michael Morris' posthumous book also includes Natacha's essay on her experience in the war which she titled, "Arriba Espana!"

41 comments:

  1. No! As to the lady depicted in my opinion as what can be seen is far removed from Negri's prominent facial features. Negri's presence at this time in the south of France might have made it possible to visit Rambova in Mallorca, but I wonder as to the reason why to do so. Why would Rambova entertain Valentino's last lover and what would have been the topic conversation and to what purpose? Negri had a tendency to make much public and this encounter she would have surely mentioned at one point in time.

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  2. I wouldn’t rule this out as Negri without a more clear photo from the gathering proving it is someone else.

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    1. The woman does not appear in any other photos but boy it was a deal breaker for Ms. Salome. She was adamant it was Pola. I never felt so sure.

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  3. I am 99 per cent sure this îs not Pola Negri. Other than The hair, there îs nothing like Pola and as you said, very unlikely Pola would visit Natacha especially after The "feud" în the press after Rudy's death

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    1. I agree and can hardly believe Pola and Natacha made peace, etc. Not likely at all. It haunts me however because Maria Salome was very clear about it and told the story of how Pola arrived at Ca Na Tacha (Alvaro and Natacha's home) and she said it was a very big deal. She was so proud of this photo. I was put on the spot. She had a huge collection and granted Michael exclusive use of it all in Beyond Valentino and I was not going to carry this on with her because I had nothing more than my gut feeling it was not her. Interesting you all have the same reaction as I did.

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    2. Was Ms. Salome there at the time of the Negri visit, or is this something her parents reported back to her? I wouldn’t dismiss the idea that this is Pola. Natacha was willing to make clothing for Mae Murray after Valentino’s death, which is no less odd than the idea Rambova welcomed Negri for a visit in Mallorca.

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    3. Ms. Salome was not born yet and it was something passed on to her by her parents. The gentleman who negotiated with her was very credible and he believed Pola did visit.

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    4. Worth remembering the clothing for Mae Murray did not go well and Rambova sued her for payment.

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    5. As I am sure the Mallorca visit was filled with barbed remarks and nearly came to blows!

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    6. And, after her kind gesture to design clothing for Murray, Rambova had to sue Murray to get paid. That's gratitude for you. Perhaps the incident made Rambova gun shy about associating with any person from Rudy's past!

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  4. I like The lady on the left though. I Wonder Who she îs and what year this photo was taken..

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    1. This would have been about 1933. I have no actual date on it.

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    2. I like the lady on the right, the one lounging in white with the cigarette. She looks like fun!

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    3. I think she was IDed in another photo as one of Alvaro's cousins of which he had many. Definitely cocktail hour on the terraza.

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    4. I added a second image of the lady on the right.

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    5. “Pola” isn’t in the second photo - correct?

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  5. I'm torn. I don't rule out the possibility that Negri visited Natacha and Alvaro. Rambova had moved on from her Valentino years. By 1933, she had gone through a very intense relationship with Svetoslav Roerich (said to be the real love of her life) and then married Alvaro de Ursaiz. Also, at this time, Rambova gave up all her interest in seances and pursuits in the occult. Obviously, she left the past in the past and moved on with her life. Therefore, it is likely she could have entertained Negri without too much bitterness.

    On the other hand, I agree with the comment above. I don't think Negri could have kept such a thing a secret and would have surely mentioned it in her biography. Also, it doesn't really look like Negri, although this is 7 years after her affair with Valentino. Perhaps we should find a picture of Negri from this period and compare it with the woman in the photo. And, there is the likelihood that Rambova, in her desire to lay the past to rest, would NOT want Negri around to bring up undesired memories.

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  6. You can see clearly în the second photo it îs not Pola Negri. As for The lady on the right, which I was actually interested in, I would say she looks a little like someone on Natacha's side of The family, maybe her cousin Ann Wollen?

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    1. The other woman in the second photo is Mai Mai Sze. I am sure the other woman is not Ann Wollen. She was a very tall and big boned woman.

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  7. I can’t think of any reason why the goddaughter would be so adamant about a visit from Negri if it hadn’t actually happened. Perhaps another member of the party brought Negri along and it was all very impromptu.

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  8. When did Maria Salome pass away?

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    1. About a year after Beyond Valentino was published. I sent her a card of thank you and the book inscribed. She was very pleased. I also pleaded with her to house her collection in a museum but I have no idea what happened to it all. Perhaps her children have it now.

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    2. I wonder if there was some kind of guestbook at the villa in Mallorca. What a treasure that would be!

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    3. One of the odder images has Natacha and Alvaro seated next to Betran-Masses! I guess she forgave him too. In other photos... a young L. Ron Hubbard. They are all in Beyond V. and Michael really scored a treasure with those photos.

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  9. What did Natacha hâd to forgive Betran(Masses for? I never thought there was any disagreement there. Anyhow, I guess I have to read Beyond Valentino 😀

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    1. He was the one who told Rudy to have Natacha followed by detectives. Which resulted in the separation.

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    2. Yes, Beltran Masses told Valentino that that is how the situation would be handled in Spain, his native country. And that he, Beltran Masses, would do exactly that if his wife conducted herself in such a way. Ullman tried to dissuade Valentino, but he insisted on having Rambova followed. And yet Ullman gets blamed for this (and every other misfortune Valentino experienced, including his death).

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    3. The interesting question here is: did Rambova know it was Beltran Masses who gave Valentino the idea to have her followed? It's rather fascinating looking at the genial picture of them together in Mallorca, to think she was still totally in the dark about his role in that episode a decade ago.

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  10. Indeed... I forgot about that.And its în Affairs Valentino as well if I remember correctly.

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  11. Let's not forget that Pola was always promoting herself, may it be the 1920s, 30's 40's, 50' and 60s... and nothing ever stopped her from being in the spotlight if an opportunity presented herself. She loved to pose, bathe in glory, and definitely made public past encounters of the famous and the set they were in. An encounter with Rambova would not have been something she would not have mentioned at one point in time.
    The question of this being Pola in the photograph stems back to Maria's parents the domestic couple working for Rambova saying so. A quick glimpse of a fashionable 1930s lady, mistaken identity, misfed information, incorrect labelled photographs, or maybe even the truth one will not know at this point in time.
    In her biography she speaks about detailed lovemaking to Valentino and much more, how could/would she have missed reminiscing about such a meeting with the wife of her former lover.

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    1. Perhaps because mentioning Rambova in her book or otherwise would necessitate acknowledgement that Valentino loved a woman other than Negri.

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  12. I can understand why some people would think Urzaiz looked like Valentino just by this photograph. In the shadows, he does resemble Rudy. However, I don't think Natacha was the type to try and "rekindle" the magic with a Valentino twin. Other photos clearly do not depict a likeness to her first husband.

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    1. Agreed. I can find more photos of him and post.

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  13. Nope, not Negri. But everyone is so stylish. I love this photograph!

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  14. Remarkable that only today, an inquirer on Mad About the Boy was told by distinguished scholars Gribbin & O’Martin that no photographs of Natacha and her Spanish husband exist! This plainly means that these two Valentino experts have never picked up a copy of Madam Valentino by Michael Morris, which has been available since 1991 or the even more lavishly illustrated Beyond Valentino by Morris and Zumaya.
    A more sinister explanation for their ignorance is that they are well aware of the beautiful photographs of Rambova and Alvaro in the two books but, because the books are authored by Morris (a Zumaya champion and collaborator) and Zumaya herself, the two Golden Girls have willed the books into oblivion. And Zumaya is accused by these cretins of “denigrating the Valentino scholarship of others.” How rich.

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    1. I am of the opinion that the Golden Girls, at least O'Martin, know very well there are photos of Rambova with Alvaro, but they refuse to credit Ms. Zumaya's and Michael Morris' research. How petty. Luckily, there are members of MAtB who have brains and will be able to obtain Beyond Valentino, if they haven't already, for the narrative and the wonderful photographs. The GGs only highlighted their ignorance. "Thank you for being a putz..."🎼

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    2. “Thank you for being a putz” indeed! That’s what Terhune has to say to these beauties for dutifully carrying out his edict that the iconic work of Michael Morris and Evelyn Zumsya is to be ignored.

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    3. They seem to rely on Terhune's knowledge which is a sad state of affairs at this point. I have had people tell me that their being kicked off his two Facebook groups for questioning his edict, was a badge of honor.

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  15. Pretty shocking to read that. How could anyone seriously interested in Valentino not know Michael's work and well?

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    1. I think you answered your own question, Evelyn.

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