Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The Brazen Inscription

When I interviewed Bill Self in 2003, he liked to show me his Rudy collection but was cautious about revealing too much. I know if the Valentino family had not told him to stop talking to me I would have seen more, but that was not the case. His was a sort of carnival shell game of impressing me and hiding things from me. 

Usually Self had a few things on his coffee table which I could handle. This is shocking because artifacts of museum quality should not be handled without gloves, etc. But even those artifacts were deftly removed and fairly quickly. Michael Morris was very frustrated by that routine but he did get to enter the walk in closet at the top of Self's stairs and view the clothing for one minute. 

Self had a book shelf on the top of his stairs which held a collection of Rudy books. During one visit he removed a book, which was a copy of E. M. Hull's The Sheik. He did not hand it to me but opened it for a few seconds so I could see it was inscribed. He told me E.M. Hull inscribed it to Rudy and Alberto told him it was the only book Rudy ever read cover to cover. I remembered that precisely because I was surprised to hear this was, "the only book Rudy ever read cover to cover" And this was something Alberto said? 

So imagine my surprise when many years later the following was sent to me. (see below) Was this the same book Self so quickly closed and set back on his shelf? Or was there another book inscribed by Hull. I never got a chance to clarify. But why would Florey inscribe this to Self as if he was the author? I doubt somehow Rudy kept a copy of The Sheik on his bedroom bookshelf, perhaps he did. Did he have a bookshelf in his bedroom? Whatever the answer, whether there were two books or this was more of Self's slight-of-hand... I think in some ways Florey desecrated the book with his brazen inscription. And his dating it 1921 is quizzical and deceptive because Self was not in Hollywood then and would not arrive until the early 1950's. 

Monday, May 30, 2022

Not Where They Belong

I am reposting this letter below in light of the comments on the previous posts. It was shocking for me to at last find the missing Valentino probate case file and then be told the family would not share them "with me or anyone". This, when they are rightfully public property. "Where they belong", is not with the Valentino family but in the archive to which they are assigned. 

So very much information about Rudolph Valentino's business, his personal life, Ullman's performance as executor, and so much more is contained within that file. It is disgusting to me that this shady underbelly in the Valentino world even exists, where the truth about Valentino is hidden away from his public and the narrative controlled according to the various agendas of the collectors and the family. Where they felt safe to lie for decades about Ullman, about Alberto Valentino and much more because they thought no one could fact check what they said. 

I guess they did not understand that when Ullman filed his appeals case, some 1000 pages of that original file was officially copied and waiting for me to find it. 

It has been many years since I first discovered what these people do to manipulate the narrative of Valentino's life. Not much has changed. Except maybe the appearance of a few more people traipsing along, with no moral compass, doing all they can to be accepted as one of the mob. 

Here is my previous post and I did not forge this document. How could I when it is preserved forever on two e-mail servers? The e-mail was sent to me on September 1, 2003 and I printed it out on May 19, 2004. Bill Self did tell me who had the file before it was surrendered to the Alberto Valentino family in exchange for that one shirt. 


Well Valentino collector Bill Self kind of slipped up here in this e-mail. He seldom sent me e-mails and would always call.. to I guess avoid something like this happening. Or did he want this to happen? 

Here (see below) he tells me that the Alberto Valentino spokeswoman Jeanine Villalobos was in receipt of the stolen case file of Valentino's probate court records and has the gall to tell me that this is, "where they belong".

No Bill, those records are public record and belong in the Los Angeles County Hall of Records for all to see. Now Self's e-mail was confirmed of course by Donna Hill when she told me the same and added that Ms. Villalobos exchanged one of Valentino's shirts for the case file.

Bear in mind George Ullman's son Bob...at the time was terminally ill and wanting to know the truth about his father's tenure as executor which was contained in that case file. Hence why I was trying to find those records for him. Bill Self knew that... and still they hid those records from a dying man. 

In this e-mail, Bill Self told me he waived the purchase of that shipping case/sarcophagus...when in fact I would learn later on, he already owned it. 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Certificate of Clerk

I was thinking today what I would consider the most important document I discovered. There are many but this one came out first. In May of 2004, I received this letter from the Los Angeles County Hall of Records after nearly one year of their searching the facility and off-site facilities. This letter proves the case file was once there, proves it was missing and on that date. 

This was critical for me to have as proof of my allegations that the records were gone. I knew this but this stands as official record by the facility and the people charged with protecting the records for posterity. The "Certificate of Clerk" was a big deal to find in my mail. 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Valentino Bill

On August 30, 1926, palm decorations, 2 vases of roses "beauties" and a scarf/drape of roses were delivered to Campbell's Funeral Home, charged to the name of "Valentino Bill". Renato did the currency rate of inflation calculation as of today and this would have been an expense of $9,602.03. 

 My visit to Campbell's contributed so many valuable documents, especially proving George Ullman paid the bill. I included those documents in Affairs Valentino...and proudly so. 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

An Astounding Revelation

One of the more astounding revelations Norma Niblock's children shared with me, was that they believed their mother was murdered by a doctor. They told me the details of this in separate interviews and early on in the process. I took many notes and began to research the story of Norma's death.

Sally had more details to share because at the time of her mother's death, she lived in California. Her brother Roger was overseas in the army. What I discovered was a totally new insight into Norma's death in 1962 and a mystery still unsolved.

I remember asking Sally if she felt comfortable giving me the doctor's name and she answered, "Of course. Bill Peebles."

I located the daughter of Doctor Peebles and it was a rather stunning moment for me when she answered my question, "Did you know Norma?" by saying, "I knew her well and was there the night she died." She generously granted me a lengthy, substantive and detailed interview which turned many key points in the story around. 

My subsequent research expanded the data considerably. I then had to tell Sally and Roger that the details of their mother's death were not exactly as they were told by the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD lied to them about many, many things. 

I was in a precarious position making those phone calls to give them the latest report. 

Dr. Peebles' daughter is pleased with the book and thanked me for telling the truth about her father's troubled life after sixty-years of misinformation. 

And Sally finally got her books. Covid has slowed down the mail in far off parts of the world. Norma's daughter is thrilled, so very good. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

A Mark Hasselriis Note

I share a few of Michael Morris' archival notes (below) from his phone interviews with Natacha Rambova's companion the last twenty years of her life, Mark Hasselriis. He describes Natacha Rambova's mother Muzzie (Winifred Hudnut) arriving in Cairo to visit her daughter Natacha, "in a limo and dressed like Queen Mother Mary". He also comments how Mrs. Hudnut was psychic and predicted Mussolini's death. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

Custom Built!

In my interview last Saturday, I spoke about Valentino's cars and a favorite car dealership in New York which he frequented, Ugo D'Annunzio's Foreign Models. Ugo D'Annunzio is an interesting story himself, as he was the son of the great Italian poet and statesman, Gabriele D'Annunzio; a poet Valentino greatly admired.

Ugo D'Annunzio:

Info about his very famous father here:


Two months before he died, Valentino ordered a new Isotta Fraschini from Ugo's Foreign Models. The story of what happened immediately on delivery of the vehicle a year later can be read here.


Another Valentino car fascination I mentioned was the Cunningham roadster. Curiously, Jay Leno owns one of these cars and it is fun to watch him driving it here:


I can imagine Rudolph Valentino spending hours in the Foreign Models' showroom going over the details of the new car with Ugo D'Annunzio. I guess money, celebrity and all of the above gave Valentino the advantage of having a personal rapport with Ugo and with Gabriel Voisin in France. His cars were custom ordered, custom built and I think he and Jay Leno would have something in common!

The Cunningham Roadster (1919 model) :

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Here's to You, Ms. DeRecqueville!

A nod to Jeanne De Recqueville's Valentino biography which Renato translated and I edited. As Renato wisely noted, he felt De Recqueville was more of a witness than a biographer. What she witnessed made her book such a valuable source, it has been referenced in every single Valentino biography since her book's publication. 

Until our English translation, her book was confined to a French speaking audience. Despite this, it was considered a solid source and I read it years ago with a French dictionary in hand. She covered many events in Valentino's life from a French press vantage point, communicated with many key characters in the Valentino story who knew him personally and knew him well. These people included Jacques Hebertot, Andre Daven, Robert Florey, Alberto Valentino, Dr. Howard Meeker. 

For example this letter (see below) written by Rene Clair in defense of Valentino during the "Francophobe" incident. De Recqueville's documentation of Florey's betrayal of Valentino and the reason he was consequently fired is ground-breaking material. To share but a few pages:

De Recqueville was also the first person to investigate Valentino's true sexual orientation. She breaks down the anonymously written and fictional La Presse article which contributed  heavily to the false narrative on this subject. She wrote to Rene Clair, Hebertot, Florey and asked for the truth. This also makes her book an historical documentation of these people's replies. For example this from Rene Clair (translation below in Renato's comment) basically replying that in regards to the rumor Valentino was gay; this is something purported by people who did not know him.

De Recqueville's first hand accounts from these people who knew Valentino well are remarkable as well as her documentation of the Valentino French press; including coverage from publications of the day such as "Bonsoir, Theater", "Comoedia Illustres", "Paris-Journal". The additional documentation of various 1970's cultural Valentino influences is fascinating and unique. 

I say "Cin! Cin!" Ms. De Recqueville for your fabulous documentation! And "Cin! Cin!" to Renato for giving it all to us in English. 

Potpourri to Clear the Air

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

I Pose a Question

In the introduction to Affairs Valentino, Rudolph Valentino's cousin, Chicca Guglielmi Morone writes the following which I share because I found it interesting in regards to the last few months of Valentino's life:

"The ease with which he (Valentino) passed from one screen character to another, the ability to immerse himself into his disparate acting personalities, was always dominated by an absolute love. His successes, which were often followed by serious practical problems, gave him a life of highs and lows rendering it difficult for him to ever maintain a total equilibrium."

With this in mind, I pose a general question to readers: 

What do you think contributed to making Rudolph Valentino such an enduring icon? 

Monday, May 16, 2022

Can't Blame it On the Pups

November 22, 1925 was the day Natacha's dogs made news. Both Natacha and Rudy made bitter comments about their separation and it is not, imo a simple story. So many factors factoring in. But the press seized on her calling her dogs her "babies" and that was the theme in the syndicated articles. I think it unfair the press does not mention the stature of her career which they demean. When Valentino met Rambova she was working on DeMille and Nazimova projects, placing her at the top of her field and a success at a young age. But imo her marriage to Valentino cost her that career but she could not see that here. Love is blind. 


Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Line in the Sand

I will admit I really felt the podcast we just posted on the Pink Powder Puff Editorial. The bullying aspects of the entire incident are something all too familiar to us. Baltasar Cue called it Valentino's "transcendental anguish", a phrase we understand. 

It was all too easy to mock Valentino during that summer of 1926 and this snarky cartoon (see below) is a prime example I think. Mocking his line in the sand and his, "I'm mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore". 

I guess the joke is that editors are notoriously scrawny so now they have to beef up to defend their writing. I wonder if Valentino saw this cheesy and insulting cartoon which demeans his reaction entirely. 

They Told the Story

It has been an interesting insight into Rudolph Valentino for me, to know the children and grandchildren of people he chose, admired, trusted and those he affected. I am now convinced you can know someone by knowing their children.

George Ullman's two children were serious, impeccably well-mannered and gracious hosts always. I did change their lives in a way because when I came along they did not really know the details of their father's executorship. Bob Ullman was determined I find the records so they could know the truth. As the truth rolled out, they learned a real truth about the injustice done to their father. They told their father's story with curiosity.  

Frank Mennillo's family were Italian hosts of the highest order; gregarious, very upbeat and fun. They invited me out to eat, entertained me once with a BBQ and bottomless drinks. They put on the dog and I could see that Frank's generosity with Valentino was a family tradition of generosity. They told Frank's story with love and gusto. 

Norma Niblock's children were extremely intelligent in the process. Both were ready with new things to tell me and many times they fine-tuned or expanded on things they told me previously. They really tracked everything well and the book excels for their great desire to tell this story. Sally an engineer, a designer and Roger a military mind certainly made the book magic. They told their mother's story with precision. 

But it speaks well of Rudolph Valentino I think, that all of these families were great people to work with. He was very savvy about character. 

Friday, May 13, 2022

Norma's Babies

 Interviewing Norma Niblock's two children was thoroughly enjoyable. Each of them had a different way of reminiscing and we worked out our interviews around that. 

Sally lives a long ways away from me and there were time changes to calculate. So we set up a routine of my calling at the same time, in the late afternoon. She would be excited to answer my questions and would talk about 45 minutes before she was done. 

Roger wanted to be called in the morning. He could talk longer and gave me his cell number in case I had any questions for him and he was out.  During our first two calls, he told me in great detail his military history.

When I had 20 pages or so for them to read, I sent the packages off. I called after they read them and we went over any changes. Sally, for instance told me that her parents only rented the Saticoy ranch when I had them owning the property. 

They both read the manuscript before it became a book and were very excited and pleased about the outcome. These adorable tykes waited a lifetime to tell their Mama's story. Here with their beloved father, Holland. 1933.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

NORMA - The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino's Beauty Queen

I want to thank all of you for making Norma such a success! And also for all your positive feedback and fascinating insights! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Cin! Cin!

How much is owed to George Ullman for the very existence of the Mineralava Tour, the pageant and for getting Valentino's career and life back on track in the summer of 1923. There are so many instances where his genius shines through; the contracts, the settlement of the strike, the direction Valentino took, the solace Valentino found in Ullman's friendship and partnership. 

I have not paid tribute to George Ullman in a while and considering all that happened to him for his devotion to Rudolph Valentino, it is something I should do more often.

Ullman writes about running into Norma Niblock at the Farmer's Market in the mid forties. Were they friends after this encounter? Find the answer to that in the book. 

And a tribute also must go to Renato as the dream Italian chef. Sometimes I like to brag about my meals these days because he cooks them all. Tonight? We had a perfectly executed pizza with cheeses galore, tomato and prosciutto and for desert strawberries with cream and a tiny cream puffs on the side... all served with a chilled wine sparkling wine. I can not complain.

So cin cin to the fellows who make these great things happen! Thank you Renato for my delicious pizza pie and here's to S. George Ullman for his magnificent role in the Valentino story!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The Eighty-Eight

One of the more exceptional photographs in Norma Niblock's archive was the image of all of the 88 contestants. I included the entire span of this image in the book but here share a clip. Norma is circled but I think some of the other contestants are interesting to notice. The original photo in her collection is about a foot and half long and has survived the years rather well. Norma is easy to spot because of the way she tips her head which is unique to her. 

I learned a great deal more about Norma researching the book than I knew when I wrote Affairs Valentino many years ago and I am happy I was able to expand and fine tune to a high degree the true story of this remarkable woman. 

Monday, May 9, 2022

A Wonderful Find

 How thrilling for me to find this little card in Norma Niblock's archive. (see below) Her identification card which allowed her to board a train for the final pageant in New York, with "dining car" privileges! I knew George Ullman devised this method and I cite from his memoir, page 30:

The railroad executives were most cooperative. I did not want to send the winning beauty contestants either the money or the tickets for their railroad fare, simply because I thought that some of the girls might use the money (or convert the tickets) and fail to appear in New York City at the required date. So I arranged with the various railroad executives to allow the conductors on the trains to accept the girl’s signatures in lieu of cash or tickets. All of the girls got to New York in time.”

* Norma would not take the train to New York and drove herself, with her mother from Toronto. A wonderful find in her papers and photos and which I share in the book. (front and back)

A Word to the Brainwashed

I would ask those who feel compelled to send in comments that are mean-spirited, know-it-all nonsense... this question. If you feel I am so inept and bad at what I do, then why do you spend all day and night glued to this blog? May I suggest you go find some more pleasant activity?

I do not need your patronizing lectures about how the Valentino marriage was “arranged”. How utterly ill-informed is that? That is dark ages material at this point. I do not need to be taught about copyrights, cut and paste and how to improve my colorizing. Especially from you folks.

You... who wholeheartedly reject and censor all of our hard work, our efforts and yet watch us all day long picking at us non-stop. Today Renato made a comment. He said, “Your blog is not a spittoon.”

Some one of you today wrote something about your decades of Valentino study. I ask when did that begin and end? I assume it ended long before Renato and I came along because you are not studying so hard now. Your main effort seems to be doing all you can to bury everything we do.

So save your time with your fake magnanimity, because I reject your continued bullying, your patronizing conceit and your comments dripping in malice. I do not need your help and I think if you take a tiny step back you will see that the opposite is true.

You present yourselves as if you are the authorities with your very transparent offers to “dialogue”? How would that be a thing when nothing has changed? Let me be the first to tell you... that there is life outside of bullying Evelyn and Renato Floris.  Maybe look into that. 

Sunday, May 8, 2022


The beauty of Mineralava as defined by Rudolph and Natacha with Argentine orchestra. This photo sent to me some time ago from a very generous friend, who sent me so many photos over the years and who I refer to in my books as "the London Archivist". Thank you! I watermark my colorized images because if I don't I have learned that they can appear on Tracy Terhune's two Facebook groups, Mad About the Boy and We Never Forget... while they always forget to attribute my colorizing, etc. Copyrights on these original images have expired, so I say the important thing is to enjoy them, not hoard them. 

Rudolph Valentino & The Pink Powder Reveal

Friday, May 6, 2022

A Happy Birthday To Valentino From Professor Aurelio Miccoli


A Day in Castellaneta

In 2014, Renato and I traveled south to Castellaneta from Turin to meet our host Aurelio Miccoli who gave us a fabulous tour of the city. His knowledge of the history of Castellaneta and Rudolph Valentino’s childhood was exceptional and we learned so much that magical day.

I recall my dominant thought that day being one of amazement that Rudolph Valentino could come from such a far off corner of the world to find his incredible success in Hollywood. Even in 2014 it was an arduous trek and somewhat off the path as the saying goes.

On this celebration of the birth of Rudolph Valentino, I share a few pictures of us in front of Valentino’s birthplace and I credit all the photos to Aurelio Miccoli.

The room where Rudolph Valentino was born on May 6, 1895... 125 years ago today.

A wider vantage point of Valentino's birthplace

Renato and I with the pups before the birthplace of Valentino

Renato with Professor Aurelio Miccoli

Renato Floris and Aurelio Miccoli - Rudolph Valentino Italian Scholars at the Convent di San Francesco

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Here's To Better Days Ahead

In regards to the comments being hidden on this blog, I say the following. Over the past months, the same people who have spent their days insulting us for years on end, discovered they could send in comments to me here, most of them as “anonymous”.

I have always understood why readers of this blog send in comments as “anonymous” because the moment their names are public, they come under the same type of online and vicious attacks as Renato and I do.

In order to decipher which comments are legitimate, I have to read all of the hate comments sent to disturb, insult and offend us.

I say directly that they are not “legitimate” comments because I have heard it all for years. I know who is writing it to me and their purpose is to hijack the honest dialogues on this blog to “stir the pot” as someone called it. I say they are sent in to push the pot over.

It is not that I am a “coward” as I was called by Ms. Cindy Martin for not publishing their comments. It is that I am just the opposite. How strong Renato and I are to even be functioning at this point after the 12 years and counting of these people's horrendous abuse.

For months, their comments have been dismissed by yours truly and most all have ended up in the trash file. But on blogger, there is an interface, as a record of all comments I have not approved, “Awaiting Moderation” and many of them have ended up there. As of today I have 487 of their comments.

This is not a Facebook group and is my private blog. Both Renato and I welcome and really enjoy honest, respectful dialogue and I think honest people know that. But I will not allow these trolls to use my blog as their platform to abuse us.

I make the following statement based on the history of these people and their all too familiar taglines. It makes no difference whether the authors of these comments are two of these people or one or all, this has been their familiar, collective campaign against us for many years. These people are no longer so mysterious and although they have used aliases and anonymous to force me to read their comments, they are: Cindy Martin/Donna Hill/Mary O'Bannon, Tracy Ryan Terhune, David Bret/Albert Morris/etc., Simon Constable/Etienne, etc.,/Eleanor Gribbin.

Here follows a few comments sent in for publication which I grabbed out of the “awaiting moderation” file today.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

On Movie Ambitions

Rudolph Valentino could certainly make an aspiring actress' dream come true. I titled a chapter in Norma, "Touched by the Hand of Rudolph Valentino." How many extras or others who appeared in his movies found the roles because they met the man? 

Thank you to a sharp reader who found the Smart Set cover by Henry Clive of Ruth Waddell!

Monday, May 2, 2022

"The Greatest Attraction of the Year..."

In 1925, Norma Niblock was hired to tour upstate New York in a promotion of the film, "Rudolph Valentino and His 88 American Beauties." The short run tour was organized as fashion shows with a sort of vaudeville flare which would take place before the showing of the film before a full feature movie. 

Two years after her win in New York City, Norma was still a household name and would headline the show. The fact was the tour was produced to promote the new Crystal Beach Park Ballroom on Lake Erie. The owners of the new ballroom were eager to launch their own tradition of beauty pageantry and what better way than to associate with Valentino and his 88 beauties.  


While the tour fell apart within a few weeks, the ballroom survived the years. I wonder if anyone visiting the ballroom knew of its connection to Rudolph Valentino. 

This ad (see below) announces the showing which took place in Dunkirk, New York at The Safe Store. 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Norma's Light

I like to focus on the heroes of the Valentino world. Perhaps because I am more drawn to the lighter side of life. I am too sensitive for anything else. 

Norma Niblock, Heroine and Leonard De Fonte Hero...two icons whose lives were directly impacted by Rudolph Valentino. George Ullman, Natacha Rambova, Frank Mennillo; hero stories imo. They were all honest, truthful and serious people.

I will stay with the truthful heroes and their high integrity and do my best to keep all things shiny; especially Norma's lustre. Sally told me once that her mother had beautiful skin saying, "It was like ivory." So time to focus on the light and on Norma. Cin! Cin! to the heroes!