Today marks 87 years since one of the greatest screen legends of all time was laid to rest after an untimely death at the age of thirty-one from complications from appendicitis. Rudolph Valentino was 'the sex symbol' of his time.
Wikipedia describes the final days:
On August 15, 1926, Valentino collapsed at the Hotel Ambassador in New York City, New York. He was hospitalized at the New York Polyclinic Hospital and an examination showed him to be suffering from appendicitis and gastric ulcers, which required an immediate operation. Despite surgery, Valentino developed peritonitis. On August 18 his doctors gave an optimistic prognosis and told the media that unless his condition changed for the worse there was no need for updates.
However, on August 21 he was stricken with a severe pleuritis relapse that developed rapidly in his left lung due to his weakened condition. The doctors realized that he was going to die, but, as was common at the time with terminal patients, decided to withhold the prognosis from the actor, who believed that his condition would pass. During the early hours of August 23, Valentino was briefly conscious and chatted with his doctors about his future. He fell back into a coma and died a few hours later, at the age of 31.
An estimated 100,000 people lined the streets of New York City to pay their respects at his funeral, handled by the Frank Campbell Funeral Home. The event was a drama itself: Suicides of despondent fans were reported. Windows were smashed as fans tried to get in and an all-day riot erupted on August 24. Over 100 mounted officers and NYPD's Police Reserve were deployed to restore order. A phalanx of officers would line the streets for the remainder of the viewing. The drama inside would not be outdone. Polish actress Pola Negri, claiming to be Valentino's fiancée, collapsed in hysterics while standing over the coffin, and Campbell's hired four actors to impersonate a Fascist Blackshirt honor guard, which claimed to have been sent by Benito Mussolini. It was later revealed as a planned publicity stunt.[ Media reports that the body on display in the main salon was not Valentino but a decoy were continually denied by Campbell.
Valentino's funeral Mass in New York was held at Saint Malachy's Roman Catholic Church, often called "The Actor's Chapel", as it is located on West 49th Street in the Broadway theater district, and has a long association with show business figures.
After the body was taken by train across the country, a second funeral was held on the West Coast, at the Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. Valentino had no final burial arrangements and his friend June Mathis offered her crypt for him in what she thought would be a temporary solution. However, she died the following year and Valentino was placed in the adjoining crypt. The two are still interred side by side in adjoining crypts at the Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood, California.