Dorothy Gish and Rudolph Valentino
In reviewing a few interviews with Dorothy Gish, I came upon some anecdotes that were naturally of great interest. I thought I’d share the gist of them here.
Dorothy starred in a film in 1919 called Out of Luck (aka Nobody Home) and one of her leading men in the film was a young Italian by the name of Rudolph Valentino. The film was supervised by D.W. Griffith and directed by Griffith alumnus Elmer Clifton. Dorothy plays a young woman who is unable to make a decision between two suitors. Valentino was cast as the slightly shady and villianous suitor. It was he to whom the stars pointed as the man she should choose. Sadly this is one of many lost films starring Dorothy. All that remains are stills and lobby art. As a Valentino fan and a Dorothy Gish fan, the stills are tantalizing and tormenting.
Dorothy never had anything but nice things to say about Rudolph Valentino throughout her life. She liked him tried her level best to get D.W. Griffith interested in the young actor. As in Nobody Home, the stars did not bode well for Valentino. Try as she might, Dorothy could not interest Griffith in Valentino. Griffith, it would seem, could not see or was immune to the talents and charm of Rudolph Valentino and he refused to sign him. Griffith’s rejection did not stall Valentino’s career, he went on to bigger and better things shortly thereafter with June Mathis and Rex Ingram.
Dorothy always said what a nice man Valentino was. Dorothy often accepted his invitation to enjoy horseback riding and stated that he went so far as to take her to a tailor so she could have a proper suit of riding clothes made (Lillian, too).
Dorothy also related how Valentino would call and ask to come over for a visit. Valentino was friendly not only with Dorothy but with her sister Lillian. Valentino also loved the Gish sister’s mother, Mary Gish. Valentino having so recently lost his own mother clearly found a tender heart in Mary Gish. Dorothy also related that her mother was a fine cook. Valentino joined Mary Gish in the kitchen and made many a meal together. Dorothy, left no record of recipes but stated as late as 1966 that she remembered Valentino’s spaghetti “was SO good!”