Valentino Grew a Beard– And the Fans Were Not Pleased

I stumbled across an amusing piece in a 1925 issue of Photoplay Magazine. Rudolph Valentino was sporting a handsome goatee at the time and the fan magazines gleefully spread word of the horror his fans experienced at (gasp!) facial hair.

This is a poem by Margaret Caroline Wells is entitled What!!! Valentino??? and is accompanied by this caricature of other stars trying beards and mustaches on for size.

I am terrible at identification but here were go: Left to Right, Douglas Fairbanks, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Pola Negri, Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Coogan, William S. Hart

If you think that entitled, demanding fans are a new invention, you may find this poem amusing.

What!!! Valentino???

I opened once a paper and I tell you what was in.
It was Rudolph Valentino with a beard upon his chin.
My heart stopped off from beating and I fainted dead away,
And I never want to come to life until the judgment day

If I had seen dear Rudolph with a wart upon his nose.
I wouldn’t been a bit surprised, for that’s where a big wart grows.
But as an aid to beauty, they make of him a freak.
He’d better see a barber and be the same old sheik

For Pete’s sake what could make him leave them grow so wild and free?
If that’s the style on deserts, or perhaps in gay Paree,
I hope he goes back; over and stays across the sea.
We want our Valentino just as he used to be.

The Lord tore up the pattern and threw away the plan,
So we know there never could be just such another man.
Why he went and got himself bewhiskered, I can’t tell,
But if he doesn’t shave ’em off, we’ll all raise — .

By the way, in 1926, Ivan Mosjoukine grew a considerably fuller beard for Michael Strogoff and his fans politely debated its merits but I can’t find any evidence of protest poems, so a few points to French movie fans, I suppose.


  1. James Knuttel

    Valentino grew the beard for a film he was planning to star in called THE HOODED FALCON. Eventually he shaved off the beard. The film was never made.

    You mentioned MICHAEL STROGOFF.

    BTW, I just finished reading the Jules Verne novel. It’s terrific.

    And I’d love to try this board game some time:

    Also, my fantasy silent film would be MICHAEL STROGOFF as an American production with Valentino in the title role, Esther Ralston as Nadia, and, as rotten-to-the-core bad guy Ivan Ogareff, take your pick: Roy D’Arcy, Marc McDermott, Sam De Grasse, Montagu Love.

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      The game looks fun! I am not sharing any YouTube links that aren’t from official archive channels and trusted collectors and because I know for a fact Michael Strogoff is still under copyright. Here’s hoping we get an official release soon!

    2. James Knuttel

      When I was at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (May 1-5) I asked film historian Serge Bromberg about MICHAEL STROGOFF and he mentioned that it has been restored with the tinting, toning, and hand-coloring by the Cinémathèque française. I asked him if they’re planning a DVD or blu-ray release. He replied, “I don’t know. That’s up to them.”
      Maybe a petition is in order.
      They is a 1914 American version of the story available for viewing on YouTube:

      It’s in poor condition and has no sound.
      BTW, I liked your article in the program guide for the SFSFF. Did you attend the festival?

  2. George

    Did fans start a petition demanding that he shave the beard?

    There was similar fan outrage when Mary Pickford bobbed her hair for “Coquette.”

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