Several months ago, I wrote about a couple remarkable books that The March King, John Philip Sousa, wrote. Those were extraordinary finds that I stumbled upon by chance. “The Fifth String” and “The Conspirators” are admirable works to add to Sousa’s talents.
To continue: I am a big old movies devotee and an Old Hollywood fan, too. I particularly like to study filmmaking techniques from the late nineteenth century through the early 1960s. And along the way, I enjoy discovering the lives of actors and actresses, particularly to see if they did anything beyond the, “I’m ready for my close up, Mister DeMille.”
Some time ago, I read that Rudolph Valentino wrote, and that some of his books were published. My curiosity was piqued. Really? He wrote? And what did The Sheik write? I was on a mission to find them, and I discovered some of them are extant.
Unmistakably, he was a fitness leader of sorts. His “How You Can Keep Fit” book was published in 1923 and filled with pages of health and exercise tips, and of him half-dressed and posing for the exercises he advocated. He wrote that to be fit as an actor made his acting and stamina the best that could be. After all, he said it would be embarrassing to have a stand-in do what he should be able to in acting and performing stunts. Acting was a strenuous job with riding horses for hours in the hot California sun, for example. He was thinking of not only of his pride in his work, but his fans, too. He gave them what they really wanted – a man who was a man’s man.
Moreover, he wrote about the importance of eating only when one was hungry, to not drink icy cold water (it’s bad for the body), and to exercise every day. He wrote amusingly about his growing up years in Italy, when he was the conventional boy: running, riding horses, swimming, climbing fences and trees, and tearing his clothes, much to the consternation of his mother. He was an active boy!
As he grew older, he maintained his exercise routines, and thus, we have his fitness book, so that you, too, can be fit.
The exercises he champions can be followed by just about anyone, even today. He warns against overdoing anything ; moderation is key to a healthy life.
Finding this book was exciting for me. It gives another perspective into the life of one of Old Hollywood’s most popular actors, but more importantly, it gives a look into the psyche of the American public in the 1920s. The public ate up just about anything public figures took the time to create, and this book shows that not all of it was garbage back then.
“How You Can Keep Fit”
Author: Rudolph Valentino
©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.