A Hollywood Heartthrob With a Controversial Past
As seen above, some of early Hollywood’s scandals make today’s Tinseltown controversies look quite tame by comparison. Another early superstar whose public image was marred by scandal was Rudolph Valentino (1895 – 1926), he of the Falcon Lair estate. Valentino was a Hollywood superstar and heartthrob of the silent film era, and a 1920s’ symbol of masculinity. He shot to fame with captivating performances in silent film blockbusters such as The Sheik, and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Valentino’s sudden death when he was only thirty one resulted in mass hysteria among his female fans. The early demise at the height of his popularity solidified his iconic status. It later emerged, however, that before his Hollywood stardom, Valentino had probably been a male prostitute. He had worked as a dancer in what were known as “taxi dance clubs”. Such clubs were basically escort services, where clients would come in, examine the club’s stable of dancers, and pay to dance with whichever one caught their eye. As seen below, there was more to it than a dance.