Natacha Rambova

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Natacha Rambova : biography

January 19, 1897 – June 5, 1966

After divorcing her second husband, Rambova remained in France, where she remained until the Nazi invasion, at which point she returned to New York. Rambova’s interest in the metaphysical grew during the 1940s, with her supporting the Bollingen Foundation, which she believed help her see a past life in Egypt. She published various articles on healing and astrology during this time. Eventually she helped decipher ancient scarabs and tomb inscriptions which led her to edit a series of publications titled, "Egyptian Texts and Religious Representations". She also conducted classes in her apartment about myths, symbolism, and comparative religion.

She never spoke of Valentino publicly, turning away reporters on the 25th anniversary of his death and threatening to sue if an upcoming picture about him had a caricature of her in it.

Death

In the mid 1960s she was struck with scleroderma, and became malnourished and delusional as a result. A cousin brought her to Pasadena, California where she died of a heart attack on June 5, 1966 at the age of 69. Her collection of Egyptian antiquities were donated to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. She willed a huge collection of Nepali and Lamaistic art to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 412 Rambova’s ashes were scattered in Arizona.

Role in Valentino’s career

After they moved in together the pair devised a plan to sell Valentino’s autograph for 25 cents. It kept them afloat between paychecks.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 141 Valentino signed with Famous Players-Lasky in 1921. Before their marriage a public controversy over pictures Rambova had taken of Valentino, dressed up as a faun or pan-like God. The pictures had been taken by Rambova as part of a series of faun pictures for a magazine called Shadowland, that featured art and dancer photos.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 185 The pictures were damaging to Valentino’s image, and also were seen as evidence that he was carrying on with Rambova during his divorce from Acker.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 184-185

As the bigamy scandal raged on, Rambova began work on costumes for Valentino’s next picture, The Young Rajah.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 215 The film contained Indian themes and Rambova’s costumes were elaborate representations of such. Valentino complained that his separation from Rambova distracted his acting, causing a sub-par performance. He complained to Rambova that everything from the sets to the cast was cheap. The film flopped and was one of the first major flops of Valentino’s leading man career.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 217

Outraged over the bigamy trial and the way his wife was treated, Valentino declared a one man strike against his studio with Rambova’s support.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 228-229 Valentino also claimed he wasn’t making what he was worth, and that artistic control over his films lay at the heart of the matter.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 231 Famous Players sued and won an injunction barring Valentino from seeking any form of employment. This was later reduced to employment in pictures. Rambova stated she was not worried, and could keep them afloat with her designs. She mentioned offers of being an actress herself though she had yet to appear as anything more than an extra in film.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 238

Eventually Valentino hired a new manager, George Ullman. At first Rambova worked well with him, but the two eventually clashed.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 244 Ullman presented the idea of having Valentino promote Mineralava Beauty Products. He then suggested Valentino and Rambova partake in a dance tour to help the promotion and keep Valentino’s name in the spotlight. The pair agreed and the tour was a major success.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 232-234 Rambova was credited under her legal name Winifred Hudnut. During a stop in her hometown, Salt Lake City, promotion for the tour tried to play her up as the local girl returning home, "The Little Pigtailed Shaughnessy Girl". Rambova was angry and erupted in tears.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 249