Natacha Rambova

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Natacha Rambova : biography

January 19, 1897 – June 5, 1966

Once the tour wrapped up, Valentino and Rambova legally married and the press praised Rambova for her "business sense".Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 256 By 1924 Rambova had negotiated a contracted with J.D. Williams for Valentino to sign with Ritz Carlton Pictures. The deal would require two films to fulfill his obligations to Famous Players, and then four films that he and Rambova could make as they pleased at Ritz Carlton.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 293-294 Rambova would be seen as his artistic collaborator for the first time.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 287 By this point in Valentino’s career the press began to blame Rambova for his missteps, claiming she was controlling and power hungry. She had become her husband’s prime business advisor, because she took charge, he trusted her, and he felt with her English she could understand legal terms better than he could.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 293

Valentino’s comeback film was Monsieur Beaucaire about a 17th-century Duke. Rambova was the costume designer and art director on the film. Famous Players was sure the film would be a hit, being Valentino’s first screen appearance in two years. They were given a huge budget, with Rambova spending $215,000 on costumes alone.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 297 Rambova also managed to upset a journalist and publicist Harry Reichenbach. When the journalist came to interview Valentino, he was told he could speak with "Mrs. Valentino" instead; furious he left without taking an interview and his article was cancelled. Reichenbach was furious and publicly aired his grievances.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 301 Rambova claimed that Famous Players made them choose the film. Actually the Valentinos were offered a choice between Monsieur Beaucaire and a sea adventure. Monsieur Beaucaire flopped, and most of the blame went to Rambova.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 289 Jesse Lasky held her personally responsible saying, "…she insisted on Valentino doing perfumed parts like Monsieur Beaucaire in powdered wigs and silk stockings. We had to take him on her terms to have him at all."

The Valentinos began work on their next picture, A Sainted Devil, which would follow in Valentino’s early Latin lover styled roles. Rambova took control of the production, especially the costumes and the casting.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 308 Although Joseph Henabery was the official director, Rambova took over this role unofficially.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 308-309 The costumes were again lavish and Rambova brought on two designers who would go on to successful careers: Norman Norell, and Adrian (who would design for The Wizard of Oz). A Sainted Devil flopped, this time damaging Valentino’s career to the point where reviewers dubbed he had lost his great lover title to John Gilbert. Rambova blamed the story, which she claimed had a war element when they originally agreed to make the picture; but the studio removed it fearing it would offend European audiences.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 310-311 The film is now lost.

The Valentinos began work on what they now saw as their chance at a real picture, The Hooded Falcon. Rambova wrote the initial scenario and it was again to be her production. Valentino visited June Mathis and asked her to write the full script, to which she agreed.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 313 However the project would be plagued with problems from the beginning. They learned their Ritz Carlton pictures would be distributed via Famous Players-Lasky. Ritz Carlton also did not have much financing, crushing their dreams of filming on location in Spain.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 314 To work around this they traveled to first France then Spain in search of costumes and scene ideas. They had a $40,000 budget for costumes and props, yet spent $100,000.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 317 The picture had a total budget of $500,000, half of which would be used before the film was finally shelved all together.Leider, Emily. "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino" page 333