Thursday, August 4, 2022

He Was Not Without

Michael Morris was always convinced that June Mathis was in love with Valentino. It was one of his favorite topics to ponder. I was never so convinced but I do think the positioning of Mathis as a major influence, a  'mother figure" to Valentino is based in misogyny.  

Mathis is historically cast as the "matronly type" because she was not tall, thin or glamorous. For this she has typically been the woman in Valentino's life relegated to the status of a,  "motherly figure". I allege that is solely based on her physical appearance and had nothing whatsoever to do with her mothering Valentino. 

The notion Valentino was even looking for a "mother figure" is problematic for me because he had a mother throughout all of his childhood. He had a mother until he was into his twenties, a mother he loved. He was not without.

He should have been, by circumstance looking for a father figure. Who would that be in the cast of his life's characters? 

Was Michael Morris right? Did June Mathis fall in love with Valentino and at some point realize she did not stand a chance? Did she hope to be more than a friend and patron? If she looked like a gorgeous movie star, would she still be referred to as his "matronly, mother figure"? 

Of course not. She was just objectified. 

Rudolph with June and Rex Ingram:


14 comments:

  1. Hard to say if June Mathis was in love with Rudy, I am sure that he respected her at least!

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  2. Mathis possessed great instinct and had an unerring sense of what the public wanted, particularly women. I think there had to have been some sort of attraction to Valentino in order for her to remember one of his small performances and then to recommend him for the starring role in Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. Perhaps it wasn't all out romantic love, but, just like the women of the world would soon find out, Valentino produced a physical and sexual reaction. Maybe June thought, "If I feel this way about him, so will millions of women." Smart move.

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    1. I remember reading in one of Adela St John's books, that June Mathis was romantically involved with Rex Ingrham and he basically dumped her for Alice Terry when FHOA was done. He did not get to direct Ben Hur.

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    2. The point of my post was not so much historical, but to say that then as now all too often a woman's true beauty is ignored if she is not so externally.

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    3. I agree wholeheartly with 4:03.

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  3. 4:03 - very shrewd observations. Mathis was guided by her visceral response to the onscreen Valentino, which history tells us was indeed shared by women in the millions. Once Mathis met him, it’s near impossible to believe that she didn’t daydream about getting him in bed. However, she understood that respect, friendship and gratitude were all that were on offer from Valentino and she got on with having what she could have. There were just a couple of years separating Mathis and Valentino, so the mothering angle which gets excessive airplay on the forums is patently ridiculous. And thank you Evelyn for pointing out that Valentino had been rapturously and lavishly mothered by Gabriella, for 2/3rds of his life. He did not go without and his final decade was not a search to replace her. The insistence on this pat theory I believe is designed to cast a sickly tinge on his romantic relationships with women.

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    1. 6:14: Exactly. "sickly tinge" indeed. If it is believed he was searching for a replacement for his mother, then all of his relationships with women are portrayed as disingenuous and psychologically motivated. Valentino imo did not fall in love with the beautiful and talented Natacha Rambova because he felt she could replace his mother. Hardly.

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    2. Quite. Rambova couldn’t possibly be more dissimilar to Valentino’s mother (or the rest of his family for that matter - recall her lack of simpatico with Maria upon their first meeting).

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  4. 6:14, nailed it.

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  5. I'm sure the Valentino Fantasy Community (VFC) will have conniptions over a discussion like this. This is not a topic that misogynists like Terhune and Bret can understand in their deep-seated hatred for women.

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    1. 9:49: Well it does not matter at all what they think of these discussions. Not the tiniest bit. I think it is also more than a tad self-loathing of them to imply Valentino was gay and seeking a mother figure. I personally find that old stereotype so wicked and offensive; the portrayal of gay men as being insecure little boys clinging to their mothers. How can they at any level encourage a homophobic slur like that which directly portrays gay men as weak, insecure and/or mother fixated.

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    2. The VFC probably won't say anything about this topic since it makes too much sense.

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    3. I say let's not even concern ourselves with what the VFC thinks.

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    4. Exactly, let's just enjoy discovering things about Rudy and let the others stew.

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