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Famous Players made their own public statements deeming him more trouble than he was worth the divorce, bigamy trials, debts and that he was temperamental, almost diva-like. They claimed to have done all they could and that they had made him a real star. Other studios began courting him. Joseph Schenck was interested in casting his wife, Norma Talmadge , opposite Valentino in a version of Romeo and Juliet. June Mathis had moved to Goldwyn Pictures , where she was in charge of the Ben-Hur project, and interested in casting Valentino in the film.
However, Famous Players exercised its option to extend his contract, preventing him from accepting any employment other than with the studio.
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Valentino filed an appeal, a portion of which was granted. Although he was still not allowed to work as an actor, he could accept other types of employment. In late , Valentino met George Ullman, who soon became his manager. Ullman previously had worked with Mineralava Beauty Clay Company, and convinced them that Valentino would be perfect as a spokesman with his legions of female fans.
The tour was a tremendous success, with Valentino and Rambova performing in 88 cities in the United States and Canada. In addition to the tour, Valentino also sponsored Mineralava beauty products and judged Mineralava-sponsored beauty contests. Selznick , who titled it Rudolph Valentino and his 88 Beauties.
The first film under the new contract was Monsieur Beaucaire , wherein Valentino played the lead, the Duke of Chartres. The film did poorly and American audiences found it "effeminate". In , he starred in A Sainted Devil, now one of his lost films. It had lavish costumes, but apparently a weak story. It opened to strong sales, but soon dropped off in attendance and ended up as another disappointment. With his contract fulfilled, Valentino was released from Famous Players, but was still obligated to Ritz-Carlton for four films. Valentino's next film was a pet project titled The Hooded Falcon.
The production was beset with problems from the start, beginning with the script written by June Mathis. The Valentinos were dissatisfied with Mathis's version and requested that it be rewritten. Valentino agreed only on condition that it not be released until after The Hooded Falcon debuted. After three months, they returned to the United States, where Valentino's new beard, which he had grown for the film, caused a sensation.
It was Rudolph Valentino with a beard upon his chin. My heart stopped off from beating and I fainted dead away, and I never want to come to life until the judgement day," was soon printed in Photoplay. The contract excluded Rambova from production of his films and the film set.
Valentino's acceptance of the terms caused a major rift in his marriage to Rambova. It became her only film, titled What Price Beauty? Valentino chose his first UA project, The Eagle.
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With the marriage under strain, Valentino began shooting and Rambova announced that she needed a "marital vacation". For the film's release, Valentino travelled to London, staying there and in France, spending money with abandon while his divorce took place. Quite some time elapsed before he made another film, The Son of the Sheik , despite his hatred of the sheik image. The film used the authentic costumes he bought abroad and allowed him to play a dual role.
Valentino was ill during production, but he needed the money to pay his many debts. The film opened on July 9, , to great fanfare. During the premiere, Valentino was reconciled with Mathis; the two had not spoken in almost two years.
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Dating back to the de Saulles trial in New York, during which his masculinity had been questioned in print, Valentino had been very sensitive about his public perception. Women loved him and thought him the epitome of romance. However, American men were less impressed, walking out of his movies in disgust. With the Fairbanks type being the epitome of manhood, Valentino was seen as a threat to the "All American" man. One man, asked in a street interview in what he thought of Valentino, replied, "Many men desire to be another Douglas Fairbanks.
But Valentino? I wonder Puts the love-making of the average husband or sweetheart into discard as tame, flat, and unimpassioned. A man with perfectly greased-back hair was called a "Vaselino".
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Some journalists were still calling his masculinity into question, going on at length about his pomaded hair, his dandyish clothing, his treatment of women, his views on women, and whether he was effeminate or not. Valentino hated these stories and was known to carry the clippings of the newspaper articles around with him and criticize them. In July , the Chicago Tribune reported that a vending machine dispensing pink talcum powder had appeared in an upscale hotel's men's washroom.
An editorial that followed used the story to protest the feminization of American men, and blamed the talcum powder on Valentino and his films. The piece infuriated Valentino and he challenged the writer to a boxing match, since dueling was illegal. Mencken for advice on how best to deal with the incident. Mencken advised Valentino to "let the dreadful farce roll along to exhaustion,"  but Valentino insisted the editorial was "infamous.
It was not that trifling Chicago episode that was riding him; it was the whole grotesque futility of his life. Had he achieved, out of nothing, a vast and dizzy success? Then that success was hollow as well as vast—a colossal and preposterous nothing. Was he acclaimed by yelling multitudes? Then every time the multitudes yelled he felt himself blushing inside The thing, at the start, must have only bewildered him, but in those last days, unless I am a worse psychologist than even the professors of psychology, it was revolting him.
Worse, it was making him afraid Here was a young man who was living daily the dream of millions of other men. Here was one who was catnip to women. Here was one who had wealth and fame. And here was one who was very unhappy. After Valentino challenged the Tribune's anonymous writer to a boxing match, the New York Evening Journal boxing writer, Frank O'Neill, volunteered to fight in his place.
Valentino won the bout, which took place on the roof of New York's Ambassador Hotel. Heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey , who trained Valentino and other Hollywood notables of the era in boxing, said of him: The women were like flies to a honeypot. He could never shake them off, anywhere he went.
What a lovely, lucky guy. A trilogy. His title was the Adagio Dancer. In , Valentino published a book of poetry titled Day Dreams. The March issue was one of the best-selling ever for the magazine. Most of the serials were later published as books after his death.
Valentino was fascinated with every part of movie-making. During production on a Mae Murray film, he spent time studying the director's plans. Valentino was one of the first in Hollywood to offer an award for artistic accomplishments in films; the Academy Awards later followed suit. In , he gave out his only medal to John Barrymore for his performance in Beau Brummel. The award, named the Rudolph Valentino Medal, required the agreement of Valentino, two judges, and the votes of 75 critics. Everyone other than Valentino himself was eligible. In —just before the rise of his career—Valentino impulsively married actress Jean Acker , who was involved with actresses Grace Darmond and Alla Nazimova.
Acker became involved with Valentino in part to remove herself from the lesbian love triangle, quickly regretted the marriage, and locked Valentino out of their room on their wedding night. The couple separated soon after, and the marriage was never consummated.