6 May 2019

6 May

Rudolph Valentino - star of silent films

Heart-throb actor who died tragically young

The man who would become Rudolph Valentino was born on this day in 1895 in Castellaneta, a small town in a rocky region of Puglia notable for steep ravines.  Born the second youngest of four children by the French wife of an Italian veterinary surgeon, he was christened Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguolla.  When he arrived in America as an immigrant in 1913, he was registered as Rodolfo Guglielmi. His first movie credit listed him as Rudolpho di Valentina and he appeared under nine different variations of that name before achieving fame as Rudolph Valentino in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in 1920. At his peak in the silent movie boom he earned $10,000 a week at a time when the average wage in the United States was $2,000 a year.  Yet contentment eluded him and he died in 1926 at the age of only 31 after developing complications from gastric ulcers. More than 100,000 people, mainly female, lined the streets of New York for his funeral.  Read more…


Alessandra Ferri – ballerina

Dancing star who received the ultimate honour

Prima ballerina assoluta Alessandra Ferri, who retired in 2007 but then made a triumphant return to ballet in 2013, was born on this day in 1963 in Milan. After studying ballet at La Scala Theatre Ballet School, she moved to  the upper school of the Royal Ballet School in London, where she won a scholarship that enabled her to continue studying there.  She joined the Royal Ballet in 1980 and won the Laurence Olivier Award for her first major role in 1982. She was promoted to the rank of principal dancer in 1983.  Ferri became principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre under the direction of Mikhail Baryshnikow in 1985 and began a close association with La Scala Theatre Ballet in 1992, becoming recognised as prima ballerina assoluta of the company, a rare honour awarded to the most notable of female ballet dancers of their generation.  Read more...


The Sack of Rome

Mutinous army of Holy Roman Empire laid waste to city

An army loyal to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, laid siege to the city of Rome on this day in 1527, at the start of the Sack of Rome, a significant event in the conflict between Charles and the so-called League of Cognac that had profound implications for Rome’s wealth and power.  Rome at the time was part of the Papal States, who at the behest of Pope Clement VII had joined the League of Cognac – an alliance that included France, Milan, Florence and Venice – in an effort to stop the advance of the Empire, which had its centre of power in the Kingdom of Germany, into the Italian peninsula.  After the Imperial Army had defeated the French at Pavia in the Italian War of 1521-26, it would have been a logical step for Charles to march on Rome but the attack is said to have come about not through any planned strategy but after a mutiny among his troops, many of whom were hired mercenaries, after it became clear there were insufficient funds available to pay them.  Read more…


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