RUDOLPH VALENTINO, born on this date (d: 1926); Valentino was THE romantic silent film actor. Born Rudolfo Alfonzo Raffaelo Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla, Valentino was such a slab of packed beef that it’s difficult to know where fact begins and legend leaves off. His undeniable good looks and animal appeal, his foreignness in the land of the WASP, and the very plots of his films made women dream of submitting to the fate worse than death of Valentino if he would only draw his sword. And rumor had it that he wielded a weapon even longer than his name.

But the press, and men in general, would have nothing of this un-American dream. He was ridiculed as a “pink powder puff,” and we all know what that means. The consensus is that Valentino was most likely gay. But there are those who disagree. The film historian Kevin Brownlow is one of them. In one of the strangest passages ever written by a serious scholar, Brownlow, who was born many years after Valentino died, tells us that the Latin Lover couldn’t have been “that way” since he had a sense of humor. Ummmm….what?