Classic Hollywood #66 – Rudolph Valentino Goes To Court In Costume

Rudolph Valentino Is Not Acting, He’s Actually In Court – 1925

Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguella – aka Rudoplh Valentino, one of the world’s biggest film stars in 1925.

As big as a film star Valentino was it would not prevent him from being compelled to show up in court against his wishes to answer a speeding violation. His crime: going 38 in a 20 mile per hour zone in Santa Monica.

The news caption reads:

Valentino in Court in Screen Costume – Fined $50

Rudolph Valentino, failing in an attempt to have a representative answer speeding charges in court asked to have court held at his studio pleading business pressure. Justice Marchetti became angered demanded Valentino’s appearance and fined him $50. Photo of “The Sheik” in the costume of his latest screen vehicle – 9-11-25 (photo Wide World)

Valentino was not being a prima donna asking the court to come to the studio. Shutting down production for one day of the film he was starring in, “The Eagle” would cost $10,000. More importantly the people who could least afford it, all the extras involved in the filming, would have lost a days wages

On September 8 Justice Marchetti said, “I am sorry that anyone should lose money or be inconvenienced, but the court can show no partiality. Before the law a famous actor is in the same situation as anyone else. The dignity of the law would be compromised, the courts would be made a laughing stock, were I to set up legal machinery in a studio.”

Previously on September 2, Valentino sent a member of the Automobile Club to appear at court as his representative. Justice Marchetti was not pleased by the failure of Valentino to show up.

When Valentino showed up on Friday, September 11, 1925 at Noon, he testified that the officer who ticketed him was mistaken. When Justice Marchetti asked how fast Valentino was going, he replied, “35 to 40 kilometers per hour, it’s a French car and speed is not shown in miles per hour.”

“What is the equivalent in miles?” asked the justice. Vaelntino took out a piece of paper and began trying to figure out the answer. After a minute Valentino said he did not know.

Why don’t you put a modern speedometer on your car?” Justice Marchetti wanted to know.

Valentino answered “I can’t find one that will fit the hole in the instrument board. But I will have one soon.”

Valentino paid the $50 fine for speeding, pledged not to jay-walk, install a new speedometer and drive more carefully in the future. Before he left the court Valentino was asked by the court to be a witness for Donald Nutting, 22 and Mary Virginia Angell, 19 who were waiting to be married. Valentino happily complied and signed their marriage certificate.

Valentino left the court, posing patiently for photographers and then hurried back to his studio declaring “wild horses shall not drag me to court again.”

They wouldn’t.

Within a year Valentino was dead at the age of 31. He died in New York City on August 21, 1926 after developing peritonitis and pleuritis due to complications of an operation for gastric ulcers.

 

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