Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Piero Filiberto Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antoguolla was born in Italy. He arrived in NYC in 1913 where he became a taxi dancer & an exhibition dancer. He found his way to Los Angeles, where he played a number of small parts in silent movies. He was impressive enough to be cast as the lead in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921). The film was a success & made him a star. Later the same year, The Sheik made him a legend.
In 1926, Rudolph Valentino collapsed with a perforated ulcer; after an apparently successful operation, peritonitis set in & 8 days later, the greatest romantic leading man of the silent era was dead. He was just 31 & had been a star for just 5 years. More than 100,000 distraught women mobbed his funeral.
Male audiences were offended by Valentino's extravagant dress, makeup, & willingness to display his body on screen. Valentino disrupted the era's rigid codes of sex & gender.
Valentino's sexuality was a badly kept secret in Hollywood gay circles, despite his marriages to & divorces from Jean Acker & Natacha Rambova, both lesbian.