29¢ Rudolph Valentino
Silent Screen Stars
Issue Date: April 27, 1994
City: San Francisco, CA
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
Color: Red, black and bright violet
Idolized as the “Great Lover” of the 1920s, Rudolph Valentino gained enormous fame for his passionate, romantic roles. Born Rodolfo d’Antonguollo in Castellaneta, Italy, he moved to New York City in 1913 where he worked briefly as a gardener, dishwasher, and vaudeville dancer before beginning his film career in 1918.
Although his performance in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) established Valentino as a star, it was his role as the desert warrior in The Sheik (1921), that gained him a national following - making him the most popular romantic star of the silent film era. Following his lead, men learned to tango and tantalize women with smoldering, sensuous stares. And college men, imitating their idol, slicked back their hair and called themselves “sheiks.”
Valentino went on to make several other films including Blood and Sand (1922), The Eagle (1925), and The Son of the Sheik (1926). His sudden death at age 31 from a ruptured ulcer ended his brilliant career.