The Spanish Boy

In this, the first post about 1923 in 2023, I reproduce a fascinating report, too rough and damaged to be presented in its original state. The piece appeared on the front page of The Morning Telegraph, on Wednesday the 3rd of January, 1923. And is a window, not only into the life of Rudolph Valentino, at the start of what was to be a momentous year, but also into his state of mind at that point. Those who read the long column through will appreciate the title: The Spanish Boy.

VALENTINO WON’T

ACCEPT ‘BROTHER’


Lowly Italian Youth Claiming Re-

lationship Confronted by Star

and Repudiated


WORKED IN THE FILMS, TOO


Muzii, Vague but Persistent in

Claims, Loses Job After Inter-

view in Director’s Office.


A pretender to the Valentino throne

is worrying the screen star.

The annoyance is of sufficient conse-

quence to cause him to appeal to his law-

yer, Arthur Butler Graham, 25 West

Forty Third street, to have it stopped.

Antonio Muzii, residing in West 112th

street, is the cause of this additional

trouble. He is 19 years old, a native of

Italy, and claims to be a brother of

Valentino.

Valentino is more than displeased. He

went to the studios of the International

Film Corporation, accompanied by his

lawyer, to see Muzii, or Valentino, as he

was known to Mike Conley, casting di-

rector of Cosmopolitan films, and from

whom he obtained engagements in the

films “Adam and Eva” and “Enemies

of Women.”

Valentino Listens. Lawyer Talks.

Muzii was questioned by Mr. Graham

in the office of Mr. Conley. Mr Conley

held the attention of Mr. Valentino as

the conversation progressed. Valentino

registered deep displeasure, intensified

when he was informed that Muzii

claimed relationship.

It resulted in Muzii losing his position,

minor in character, also in the issuance

of the following, signed “Rudolph Val-

entino”:

“I am informed that one Antonio

Muzii of 500 West 112th street, N. Y.

C., has been representing and holding

himself out to be my brother. I write

this letter to inform you that the said

Muzii is in no way related to me.

“You are requested to take no advert-

izing given you by any one in which the

said Antonio Muzii is exploited under

the name ‘Valentino’.”

This notice was sent to various pub-

lications.

Employed in Crowd Scenes.

Mr. Conley said that he had employed

Muzii because he was of the type needed

in crowd scenes. He said his name was

Valentino, but this exercised no influ-

ence, Mr. Conley observed, continuing:

“He is a little fellow. With a little

stretching of the imagination he could

be taken for the real Valentino in ap-

pearance. No one believes what he has

said as to his relationship with Valen-

tino.

At the offices of Mr. Graham it was

said that Muzii had amused and later

displeased Valentino. Persons on 112th

street had said to Muzii that he re-

sembled Valentino, offering the first sug-

gestion of a motion picture agreement.

It was emphasized that he had committed

no offense other that using the name

Valentino.

Muzii could not be found. It was said

At 500 West 112th street he had not

been around since Christmas. He is

known there as “the Spanish boy.”

Valentino says he has but one brother,

a physician in Italy.

Spelling of Star’s First Name.

The signature on Valentino’s letter,

looking as if a rubber stamp had been

used in attaching it to the warning no-

tice, indicates that the tangle continues

about the correct spelling of his name.

When he began to gain fame he was

“Rudolph” Valentino. After the “Sheik”

film he requested Famous Players-Lasky

to spell the name “Rodolfo.”

The management protested, explaining

that he had been known as “Rudolph

Valentino”: also that it was ill-advised to

change the spelling. Eventually Valen-

tino had his own way. The name “Ro-

dolfo” [sic] is used. His real surname is

Guglielmo. [Sic.]


I find this episode at the beginning of 1923 a really interesting one. Obviously, between the lines and without resorting to facetiousness, the anonymous Writer of this column is having fun with our Idol. At the same time we see there’s seriousness too. He, or she, finds fault with the injured party, Valentino, and that genuine though gentle disapproval is woven into the writing. We, today, see the incident in context. Rodolph/Rudolph had, for months, been forced to witness his substitution by others. Seen his pre-fame films, for which he’d been paid little, recut to place him front and centre for profit. And was about to experience the imminent exploitation of his adopted surname by his former Wife Jean Acker. It’s coincidental, yet still noteworthy, that The Imposter, Antonio, is an immigrant Italian. That, like the celebrity he attaches himself to, he’s good-looking. That he claims to be something and someone he’s not. That he’s starting out in crowd scenes. And that in his neighbourhood he’s known as: The Spanish Boy.

It would be much later, after his untimely demise and in the years that followed, that false girlfriends and wives, as well as babies, would emerge. As far as I’m aware – happy to be proved wrong! – this is the only example of anyone claiming close connection or kinship in his lifetime. A replacement for Valentino would be sought in vain in future years. And in a twist, his actual sibling, Alberto, mentioned in the article and not a Physician, was lured unsuccessfully in front of the camera. Neither he nor anyone else measured-up — how could they?

I want to thank you for reading this through to the end. And I take this opportunity, to invite you to comment and give me your thoughts, if you’ve any. Lastly, my best wishes for the year ahead of us all!

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4 thoughts on “The Spanish Boy

  1. Another interesting vignette in Rudy’s life. They all help round out the personality of someone I already feel like I know, but am always happy to learn more about!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been finding it odd how many spellings of his name Valentino goes through in his movies. Anyway this is another interesting article about one of most likely many, many things Valentino had to deal with in his lifetime.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been asked why Rudy switched from Rudolph to Rodolph once he arrived at FP-L/Paramount and didn’t know until I found this piece. Rodolfo was his actual first name, so he didn’t get exactly what he wanted, as they simply switched a u for an o. A compromise? Probably! Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Like

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