Yesterday, the Smithsonian Magazine’s blog, Past Imperfect posted a rather long article on Rudolph Valentino and his impact on sex and seduction in the early silent film era – and of course there is a brief mention of Natacha Rambova (the main subject of my own research). The article spends much of its time focused on the very public battle over the speculation of his sexuality, and his impact on masculinity in film. However, the article fails to discuss the role that Rambova played in the creation of his on-screen persona – especially in the role that many suggest established him as an entirely masculine star, The Son of The Sheik.
Although Rambova and Valentino had already separated by this point, their time together had inevitable effect on the development of his on-screen personas. This, coupled with the fact that Rambova’s costumes from Hooded Falcon were used for The Son of The Sheik, suggests that she had a significant (perhaps unintentional) hand in his career trajectory.
“A stunning Moorish costume adorned the stalwart form of our hero, including a pair of cerise satin Zouave trousers plentifully braided and embroidered in gold. These had been secured in Algiers originally for ‘The Hooded Falcon,’ which Rudy never made and which was the high spot in the Valentino contention with the Ritz-Carlton Company, which sent him into the United Artists fold. Natacha Rambova was the one who designed the costumes, to the tune of $100,000. They now lie on the wardrobe shelves. This is the first use that has been made of any of them.”
 Chicago Tribune, April 11, 1926. William McGuire Papers, Library of Congress, Box 83, Folder 1.