Rudolph Valentino/

An American may speak love with his lips; the Italian must say it with his eyes

No star of the silent movie era was as adored as Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguella, the star better known to fans as Rudolph Valentino.

There were many lavish funerals in the United States in the 20th century. Even by the year 2001, however, none had surpassed Valentino’s in size. The much-admired screen idol and star of The Sheikh had died suddenly after an attack of peritonitis. His death sparked a wave of mass hysteria amongst his predominantly female fan base.

Before moving to New York in his teens, the boy Valentino experienced a somewhat turbulent time growing up in his native Italy. Even on moving to the United States, fame did not come immediately for the handsome young actor. After a period playing “heavies”, his career finally took off at the start of the twenties through a series of very popular silent desert-orientated cinematic adventures.

Success brought Valentino enormous fame and wealth, as well as the enthusiastic adoration of thousands of women, making him an iconic figure whose fame endures almost a century after his death.