It was said that the four men who formed a guard of honour at Valentino’s funeral were Fascist Blackshirts, sent over to New York by Benito Mussolini, but it was later revealed that these men were in fact actors hired by the funeral home as part of an elaborate publicity stunt. It was also said that the body on display was actually only a wax replica and that Valentino’s body was locked in one of the rooms at the back of the funeral home, but this has been continuously denied.
Valentino’s body remained at the Campbell funeral home for three days to allow his heartbroken fans the opportunity to say their final farewells to their beloved star. Valentino then had two funerals, one in New York and the other in California. At one of the funerals, Negri organised a large floral arrangement of red roses and white blooms which spelt out her first name “POLA”.
Just as Valentino had been on the receiving end of much media speculation about his sexuality and personal life while he was alive, it was no different after the star had died. Newspapers published stories claiming that Valentino had been in fact killed by either a jealous husband or a scorned lover. While these stories may have sold newspapers, there was absolutely no truth to them.
In a tradition, which lasted for decades after Valentino’s death, a mysterious woman in black visited Valentino’s tomb in Hollywood, placing twelve red roses and one white on his grave. It is believed that the original lady in black who began this tradition was Ditra Flame, who claimed that Valentino had visited her when she was gravely ill in hospital when she was fourteen years old and gave her a single red rose. Flame is said to have abandoned this tradition after three decades when a number of other women in black began imitating the tradition on the anniversary of Valentino’s death.
Many have questioned whether Valentino would have continued to have had a successful movie career after the end of the silent movie era and the introduction of movies with spoken dialogue, claiming that actor’s thick accent would have hindered his career. Others dispute this and claim that Valentino’s star quality and natural charisma would have ensured a lasting career in Hollywood.
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