Madam Valentino: The Many Lives of Natacha Rambova

Michael Morris, Author Abbeville Press $15.98 (272p) ISBN 978-1-55859-136-3
Artist and spiritual seeker Natacha Rambova (1896-1966) was born Winifred Shaughnessy in Utah. Educated abroad, she changed her name when she joined a ballet troupe in Russia. Returning to America with her lover, a dancer named Kosloff, she designed sets and costumes for his company, until she left him (for abuse), receiving a bullet wound from his gun in the process. Renowned in Hollywood as a costume designer, Rambova was given credit for Rudolph Valentino's success in the silents. She and the star were married in Mexico in 1921, their life together happy until movie moguls cut off her participation in his films. The couple divorced. Rambova acted, scripted plays and translated, her activities culminating in the study of Egypt's ancient secrets to confirm her religious beliefs. This unconventional, little-remembered, glamorous and talented spiritualist is superbly resurrected by Morris, who teaches art and religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif. Photos. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
Genre: Nonfiction
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