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.


21 comments:

  1. I have wondered if anyone had ever tried to contact them before Ms. Zumaya? If not, what a thrill it must have been for them to discover someone wanted to write a book about their mother!

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    1. I can say they were pretty thrilled, yes. And no, they were never contacted about a book on their mother until I came along. I have a great notebook of notes from their interviews. How amazing they are both sharp, active individuals and eager to tell all.

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    2. Bet their families have ordered books for themselves.

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  2. So touching... That you came along and published Norma's life story. It's like it's meant to be... You being interested and then publish a book on the life of Norma Niblock. Pretty much The same with Leonard de Fonte ' s story. Two people Who were loosely "related" to Valentino and nevertheless with their life so much impacted by him.

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  3. Such a good point you make, Casandra. Both Norma and Leonard's lives were affected and directed by Valentino. There must be so many other but I am grateful for the two stories that found us!

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  4. I agree with Casandra. For years I have read comments from Valentino fans who wanted to know more about the Mineralava pageant winner. But no one ever took the time to do the research until now. It's always interesting to see how one human being can influence the life of another.

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    1. I personally am extremely proud to have been able to write Norma's story. I want it to be a success and appreciated because Sally and Roger are involved. It is their book. What a spectacular event to be able to manifest something they both felt strongly about; telling their mother's story. Norma's story is so gripping, you would have to be the most soulless person on earth to not be affected.

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  5. Your pride in this book is justifiable. Norma was much more than a bit player in Valentino’s life. The 88 Beauties footage pairs her with Valentino in iconic imagery for eternity. Just think about the slew of marginal personalities who claimed a connection with Valentino, with no proof. George Raft for one, who claimed not only to have been a dancing colleague and close friend of Valentino, but to have hosted the party for Valentino at the Tex Guinan Playground during his last days in New York. Raft spun this tale in his autobiography, never supposing that the flyer for the event would surface on the internet decades later, making it plain that Raft was not the host (that was James R. Quirk) and had been lying. There’s also that small detail of Valentino never once having mentioned Raft or been photographed with him. The Viola Dana tall tale of being Valentino’s Christmas savior is also without a shred of corroboration or proof. The woman was never mentioned by or photographed with Valentino. Is it likely a person as sentimental as Valentino would have forgotten the lavish Good Samaritan gesture Dana claims to have extended to him in his hour of need? Hardly. No, it was simply the case that Dana was one of very few silent players still living at the time a documentary series on the silent era was being made, and one of even fewer of such living players eager to be interviewed. If you watch each segment of the series, she is, unaccountably, a talking head across all of them, not just Valentino’s. She wasn’t interviewed for Valentino’s segment because she had specialized knowledge about him, she was interviewed because she was available. And she went to town with it, creating instant mythology for herself. Norma on the other hand, was the real deal.

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    1. The tall tales! In the days before the internet, I think people felt safe to create their Valentino stories but now it is possible to fact check a lot online. Norma was the "real deal" and had no reason to invent a moment of her Valentino affiliation.

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    2. Well said 6:00. Excellent points made.

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    3. Brilliant, Avis de Voto!

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    4. Comment 6:00 has brought up a very disputable event in Valentino's story. And I think the commenter is right on the money. In spite of what forum administrators post, there is no evidence whatsoever that Valentino remembered "Viola Dana's kindness the rest of his life." Besides never mentioning it himself, Valentino's friends - Gerrard, Ivano, Florey - never said a word about him spending the holiday with Dana's family. And they should know since he was hanging with them at this point. If he cherished this supposed act of charity from Dana the rest of his life, why did those closest to him, Rambova, Ullman, or Cue, ever testify to his gratitude toward Dana? There is no proof at all that Dana and Valentino ever met. As Avis de Voto stated, it is very convenient to share these memories almost half a century later, when there is no one to corroborate the tale. Stories like these continue to be embellished, particularly on the Valentino forums. Besides the moderators exclaiming over the non-existent validation of Valentino's eternal appreciation to Dana, one nefarious cretin (we all know who it is) recently tried to pass off a photo of Dana's mother as Valentino in a Santa costume! The comment was deleted by the MAtB headmistress, yet, she didn't ban the offender and still insists that this pig is not a member of her forum. That's what passes for scholarship in the VSC, folks.

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    5. Comment at 7:05 PM, is there any mystery what said pig was attempting to telegraph by claiming a photo of Dana’s frankly unattractive and matronly mother was Rudolph Valentino in Santa Claus garb? Yes, we all know, Valentino, the gender bending androgyne who was sexually conflicted about women and physically drawn to men. It is astounding that this crap is permitted to proliferate on the forums. Actually, no, it is not. Not when the forums are helmed by septuagenarian fantasists who dream of being pregnant with Valentino’s child.

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    6. Marshall ThurgoodMay 13, 2022 at 7:54 PM

      7:05, it is reprehensible that the nincompoop MAtB headmistress falsely attributes to Valentino lifelong gratitude for the Dana Christmas fable. There are several references to individuals who extended funds or other kindnesses to Valentino in Rambova’s book and other sources, and Dana is nowhere to be found. In a word, it is a crock.

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    7. Sinatra's ToupeeMay 13, 2022 at 8:42 PM

      Not only did the Headmistress not admonish this sick, twisted freak for his insulting implication that Valentino resembled a matron in a dress, but also, appallingly, not one member of this forum called him out on it. To put a cherry on top of this rancid banana split, fellow pea -in- a- pod- second- in- command posted this pig's regrets that he would not be able to attend the Valentino birthday bash, as if the world were clamoring for his presence. My advice to sincere Valentino fans is to flee that insane asylum as quickly as possible. You will be welcome here.

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  6. I love Norma's story. Meeting Rudy must have made her, as well as the other contestants, feel like Cinderellas.

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    1. Norma as Cinderella, what a beautiful thought!

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  7. Curious Norma FanMay 13, 2022 at 9:03 PM

    Can Norma be seen in Cobra or was her role cut out?

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    1. I will be addressing that specifically in an upcoming podcast. We believe she does have a walk through but she never had a specific role that we know of. I explain that in the book.

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  8. I wonder what Norma would think about having a book written about her? Enjoyed the read, thanks.

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    1. Considering her involvement in the Griggs documentary when she passed away, I think she would be pleased to have her story known. Her family is pleased with the book and I stayed true to the details of the family history.

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