1926, August 23 – VALENTINO DEAD AT 31 !!!

Valentino did not like doctors and although his dear friend June Mathis urged him to see one for the stomach pains that ocassionally gripped him, he refused; “it’s your bad American food” he like to kid….on August 15, 1926 while staying at the Embassador Hotel in New York, as part of a promotional tour for his new film “Son Of Sheik”, he was suddenly seized by a high fever, vomiting and severe abdominal pains….he was rushed to the “Polyclinic Hospital” where he was operated on for a perforated ulcer…in recovery everything seem to be going well and in fact in a press conference, doctors gave a sunny prognosis…however, on the fifth day Valentino was suddenly seized with severe stabbing pain in the chest…doctors soon realized that a severe  infection had spread to the lungs and that he would not recover….as was the custom at the time, the knowledge of his impending death was withheld from him…speaking in gasps, he even said that he could no longer feel the incision which unfortunately was a symptom of the advance state of infection…in his frequent telegrams to Paris, to Natasha Rambova whom he had divorced the year earlier, he spoke of plans for the future and their reconciliation…a few hours later he had slipped into a coma  and died…

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What had been the cause of his perforated ulcer which interestingly had also taken the lives of James Joyce and Rudyard Kipling…one possible answer was the fact that he smoked two packs of cigaretts per day; another one might have been the boxing match he had engaged in a few days earlier to assert his manhood after the Chicago Tribune, in a famous article, suggested that he was gay…apparently sugery was delayed for a few hours as surgeons were paralyzed by his celebrity status…outside, the police had cirlced the hospital to contain the throngs of women who had come to be near Valentino…that delay of a few hours may have worsen the infection to the point of no hope…his death plunged America into a nation of mourners…women wept with unashamed tears; two killed themselves that day…at his funeral services in New York, an estimated crowd of 100,000 gathered outside…when his body was brought back to Hollywood, thousands of fans stood in railroad stations across the country just to see the train as it sped past…in Los Angeles, an estimated 80,000 mourners crowded in and around the cemetery grounds…five years earlier Valentino’s performance in “The Four Horsemen and the Apocalypese” had been a major reason for the world-wide tango boom

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