Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Sheik of De Longpre


If you happen down De Longpre you may notice a little park just past Highland Ave. that is seemingly gated in. Just a tiny block by block patch of land with a little playground and some beautiful landscaping. But if you look closely, even just in passing, there appears to be a little shrine in the middle. And if you are like me and are curious about every hidden treasure in Hollywood, you'll find the barely-cracked front gate, squeeze through, and go closer for further inspection.


I'd seen pics online of a Valentino statue in a park somewhere in Hollywood, but every 5 blocks it seems there are tiny turn of the century gardens so pinpointing a single statue based off an internet picture is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But lo and behold, right there at the corner of DeLongpre and Cherokee, sits a monument that's been there (and not, and then back again) since the 1930's.


A campaign was started in 1926 shortly after Valentino's death by actors and members of the Hollywood community to erect a tribute to the fallen actor. Donations poured in from all over the globe, enough was raised, and Roger Burnham was commissioned to design a statue in Rudy's honor. On what would've been Valentino's 35th birthday, the statue was dedicated and fans the country over would gather here on both his birthday and death every year. It even had it's own mysterious woman who would leave flowers and wreaths every year. The neighbors weren't particularly thrilled as they felt any tribute should be made to the painter De Longpre, (it was his park, after all) but the monument stayed.

In the 50's the neighborhood hit a slump and vandals hit the monument. Some especially arduous thieves even stole the statue from it's pedestal  which the city recovered a few years later. Fearing more vandalism, the city stored the statue for the next 2 decades.

In the late 70's another artist was commissioned to create an accompanying bust of Valentino for the park, and it was then that the original was remounted in it's original resting place, and in 2010 the neighborhood got together to give the whole park a face lift, making it the little piece of serenity it is today.


While stumbling across the statue made my day, what really made the moment special was this: it was early morning and there were a handful of folks in the park, eating their breakfasts, walking dogs, feeding birds, and none of them seemed at all interested in the little art deco statue before them. Once we started making a little fuss over getting clear pictures almost everyone in the park wandered over, asking "who is this?" We told them "Rudolph Valentino, a silent film actor", not wanting to really bore them with the history lesson I could have given them, as the look on their faces told me they didn't know quite who Valentino was anyway.

But, after I'd taken a few more pictures and started to walk away, i noticed one of the people, holding their phone, reading from Rudy's wikipedia page. Everyone was standing around the guy, just listening to the life of Valentino. It made me a little warm and fuzzy inside, because, even in a small indirect way, we just inspired a group of people to learn about a great actor from a bygone era. We left with huge smiles on our faces and before getting back into the car, I turned and looked at the group, still reading up on Valentino, and thought "I had a part in that".






3 comments:

  1. What an amazing find! And what a great opportunity to let people know who R. Valentino was. It must have been such a thrill to see them googling him on their cell phones. This is a really neat story.

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  2. Hi there,

    Greeting for the day!

    I am hosting my first ever blogathon on my movie blog: A Potpourri of Vestiges. It is called "Best of the Best Blogathon".

    I would be highly obliged if you could contribute a post or two towards the same. You may write a new post but an existing one will also suffice :-)

    Here's the link:

    http://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com/2012/12/best-of-best-blogathon-december-2012-to.html

    --
    Regards,
    Murtaza Ali
    Founder/Editor-in-Chief
    A Potpourri of Vestiges

    ReplyDelete