Saturday, November 6, 2021

In Alberto's Own Words

Some time ago I heard that those "Ullman detractors" were trying to blame him for encouraging Alberto Guglielmi to have his nose surgically altered. This absurd theory is just that and I share an account of the inspiration for the nose jobs in Alberto's own words. For the record, (see below). I have transcribed the article, or page of the article I have, because my copy is poor. I included the copy below the transcription. 

From The Literary Digest, September 21, 1929

The Tragedy of Valentino's Brother's Nose

"Cyrano De Bergerac's poesy and wit would be needed to celebrate worthily the tribulations endured by Alberto Guglielmi, in pursuit of nasal betterment. Guglielmi calls himself Valentino, because that was the screen name under which his brother Rudolph became famous.

The tale of his martyrdom on the altar of pulchritude comes out of Hollywood apropos of the news that his little son, Jean Valentino, has arrived at that metropolis of beauty culture, having traveled from Italy in the company of Tito Schipa, the operatic tenor, who is to sing in the talkies.

Small Jean, age thirteen, is to be groomed, we are told, for a screen career. He is said to resemble his famous uncle whom Mr. Mencken once credited with having been 'catnip to women'.

In the family group shown on this page little Jean stands beside Rudolph and our readers may judge for themselves to what extent he promises to recapture some of the magic that once went with the name Valentino.

Meanwhile, relates Florabell Muir of the New York Daily News, under a Hollywood date: There is rejoicing in the home of Alberto Guglielmi, who also calls himself Valentino, because he sees in the young son the embryo of the fascinating sex-appeal that was the magic of Valentino. The proud father has concluded that a film career for himself is impossible, but with his eyes on his son, he is able to look back on the four years he devoted to whipping his nose into shape, with a less tragic air.

And this tale of a modern Cyrano, which he relates himself with much humor, as we shall see serves to enlighten us on the problems that may beset a family blessed with a prize beauty, male or female.

For emulation enters into the picture and one or more members of the beauty's family are sure to be seized with a noble ambition to live up to the aura of the enchantment that has descended upon the tribe.

Moreover, when ambition is fortified by dreams of a dazzling reward of fame and fortune, even torture may lose its terrors. As Miss Muir tells us:

When Rudolph Valentino died, his family were loath to lose the spell of fame the handsome young screen idol had cast over them. Eagerly they reached out to catch some of the glory, in the hope of keeping it alive. The most determined in this endeavor was Alberto Guglielmi, Rudolph's eldest brother.

The torture he underwent to have his nose fashioned into the beauteous one displayed by his brother was recalled with the arrival of his thirteen-year-old son Jean. He discussed it with me almost merrily. This is how it came about that he tried to fit himself to play the Shiek:

He was talking with Sylvano Balboni, husband of the late June Mathis, scenarist who created the role in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse that made Valentino famous.

'The public idolizes your brother. It would receive you with open arms in pictures. You look like him, all but your nose', Balboni paused.

'So what must be done?' demanded Guglielmi. 'I have my nose. I have no other. Perhaps you could tell me how to change it.'

'There are ways,' said Balboni, 'Jack Dempsey had a nose the camera did not like. It was remodeled.'

'But how', urged Guglielmi.

'Plastic surgery,' whispered Balboni, he gave the whisper the importance of sesame for Guglielmi's entrance into the motion pictures.

'Plastic surgery?' echoed Guglielmi, 'You mean cut the nose to fit?'

'Exactly,' exactly said Balboni.

The modern Cyrano did not hesitate but followed his nose into an establishment for the reparation, mitigation and renovation of human features. What followed is best conveyed in his own words:

'We agreed it could be done. I am ready. It begins. Painful. Well not pleasant, but I do not care. The nose it is not pleasant either. I am expectant. You can think what you like. A new nose to look upon. The days of the bandages are long. Then what happened? Horrible. My nose sticks up. It is too short. I return to the doctor. Something must be done. I said, the nose, it is more unpleasant than before. I ask that you give me a nose that will photograph. I do not demand a pure Grecian nose, just one that the camera will like. It is not as good as before. The superior part is always good.....