By: Jack Vallejo
His Early Life
At first, Valentino only landed bit parts, often playing the bad guy. In 1919, Valentino married actress Jean Acker, but their union was never consummated. According to several accounts, Acker locked Valentino out of their hotel room on their wedding night. According to experts, prior to the marriage, Acker had been in a romantic relationship with a woman.
Rudolph captured the attention of screenwriter June Mathis, who believed that he was the perfect choice for the lead in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921). She had to work hard to convince the executives at Metro to sign Valentino, but they finally agreed. He stole the hearts of female movie-goers by dancing a tango in his first scene in the film. The movie was a box office hit, and the darkly handsome actor quickly became a star.
The mania around Valentino grew so rapidly that some women reportedly fainted when they saw him in his next picture The Sheik(1921). This desert romance told the story of a Bedouin chief who wins over a cultured, Anglo woman (Agnes Ayres). The following year, Valentino had another stellar success with Blood and Sand. This time around, he was a bullfighter who falls under the spell of a charming seductress (Rita Hayworth).
Valentino's reputation as a lothario was probably enhanced with his arrest for bigamy in 1922. Divorced from Acker in 1921, he failed to wait a full year before remarrying. He was taken into custody and forced to pay a fine after his 1922 wedding to actress and set designer Natasha (or Natacha, according to some sources) Rambova in Mexico. The pair remarried the following year.