The Baltimore Sun

Valentino: A pink powder puff or a man?

FLASHBACK: 1926 Rudolph Valentino's smoldering eyes and graceful moves made him Hollywood's first superstar sex symbol before his Aug. 24, 1926, death from peritonitis at age 31 sealed his immortality. But the Italian native's European, slightly androgynous appeal was lost on the Tribune, which spared no opportunity to poke fun at him. A few weeks before his death, a snarky editorial titled "PINK POWDER PUFFS" ranted against the effect that the star's "masculine cosmetics, sheiks, floppy pants, and slave bracelets" were having on once-manly men and their women. The attack on his masculinity enraged Valentino, who publicly challenged the unnamed Tribune writer to a boxing match. But before the story could play out, he was rushed into emergency surgery, from which he never recovered. His first words after the operation: "Did I behave like a pink powder puff or like a man?"Tribune archive photo
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