Dirty Laundry We Like

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There’s a new club in town opening this week, one that boasts a bit of Old Hollywood history and Golden Age style. Dirty Laundry is a new underground speakeasy, reportedly occupying a space that previously housed Rudolph Valentino’s “personal speakeasy.” As one blogger put it, “During prohibition, Valentino and his favorite starlets would escape to this lair and let their inhibitions run wild.”

_MG_2994__1600WThe 1500 square foot club opens in what is now the Hudson Building on Hollywood Boulevard (formerly the Hillview Apartment Building). The entrance to the club, in true speakeasy style, is around the side at 1725 North Hudson Avenue, off the Boulevard. Built in 1917 and heavily damaged by earthquakes in the early 90′s, the long-abandoned building underwent extensive renovation a few years back before re-opening.

The building has seen its fair share of silent screen-worthy drama. Back in the day—so says one tale—silent screen comedienne Mabel Normand caught her husband, director Mack Sennet, in a compromising situation with actress Mae Busch, whereupon Busch allegedly knocked Mabel out with a vase during the ensuing scuffle. Is it true? Maybe only Kenneth Anger knows for sure…And allegedly Elizabeth Short (better known as the infamous Black Dahlia) lived for a spell at the Hillview Apartments.

_MG_3065__1600WJonnie and Mark Houston (the brothers behind a string of chic clubs like La Descarga) have created an elegant place offering a nod to bygone days. Off the central bar is a secret room, perfect from private parties.

If you’re out and about in Hollywood feel free to dress up and check it out!

85TH ANNUAL VALENTINO MEMORIAL SERVICE

 

Rudolph Valentino's death in 1926 caused mass hysteria among fans.

Rudolph Valentino’s death in 1926 caused mass hysteria among fans.

Thursday, August 23, 2012 marks the 86th anniversary of the death of Rudolph Valentino, and in honor of that occasion the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery is holding the 85th annual Valentino Memorial service—the oldest continual event held in Hollywood—in the Cathedral Mausoleum in the cemetery.

There will be several videos shown during the service, and speakers will include Michael Oldman, author of The Valentino Formula, Sylvia Valentino Huber (daughter of Rudolph Valentino’s only nephew), Hollywood historian Mary Mallory, and special guest 102-year-old Carla Laemmle, the niece of Universal Pictures founder Carl Laemmle (One of the video tributes will celebrate Universal’s 100th anniversary and focus on the five silent films Valentino made at Universal). there will also be a display of Valentino memorabilia and artifacts from his film career.

There will be live performances by Ian Whitcomb and his wife Regina (including the Valentino-themed songs There’s a New Star in Heaven Tonight and The Sheik of Araby) and operatic singer Michael J. Kouri.

The service will begin at 12:10 in the afternoon, to coincide with the actual time of Valentino’s death, but seating will be limited so visitors should arrive early. The event is free and there is onsite parking.

Italian-born Rudolfo Guglielmi Valentino arrived in the U.S. in 1913, worked as a dancer and in bit parts as an actor before his big break in 1921, when he was cast in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. His smoldering dark looks and skill at dancing the Tango made him an instant star. A string of films including The Sheik (1921), Blood and Sand (1922), Monsieur Beaucaire (1924), and Son of the Sheik (1926) followed, propelling him into iconic status.

His sudden death at the age of 31 following surgery for a perforated ulcer stunned his fans and stimulated the tabloid press, which printed lurid rumors Valentino was poisoned or shot either by a jilted lover or a jealous husband. The news was filled with tales of fans who, upon hearing news of his death, committed suicide.

valentinofuneral2Valentino’s funeral service was legendary. An estimated crowd of 100,000 gathered outside the Frank Campbell Funeral Home in New York City, filing past his coffin. The actress Pola Negri collapsed in a fit of hysterics in front of his coffin, though her theatrics were said to be a publicity stunt.

The pandemonium at Valentino’s funeral service later inspired director Ken Russell’s campy homage to the heartthrob, the 1977 film Valentino, starring Rudolph Nureyev in the title role. The baroque film is a highly fictionalized and woefully inaccurate but nonetheless entertaining bio-pic.

rudolph-valentino-grave-jeff-loweThe following year, a memorial service was held to commemorate Valentino’s passing, and the tradition has continued ever since. For many years a mysterious “Woman in Black” would attend the service, bearing a single red rose to lay at his grave; an array of myths grew to explain her yearly presence.

The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is located at 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard (between Gower and Van Ness) and the Cathedral Mausoleum is located in the Southeast corner cemetery.


The trailer for Ken Russell’s campy (and factually incorrect) 1977 bio-pic on Valentino.

There are several quality books on the life and career of Rudoph Valentino. You can check them out below.

And to get your own copy of Ken Russell’s long-unreleased movie Valentino, starring Rudolph Nureyev, click below.