RV in San Francisco

San Francisco, 1917

Rudolph Valentino lived for a brief time in San Francisco. His "official" biography published in Photoplay Magazine states he traveled to San Francisco after a play he was touring in, The Masked Model, ended its run abruptly in Utah.

According to legend, and the Photoplay Magazine autobiography, a train ticket was part of the payoff for the disbanded troupe so they would not be stranded. Valentino explained that this was how he found himself in San Francisco, alone, jobless and at loose ends, once again.

The facts differ from the official tale in that troupe and the play The Masked Model actually traveled to San Francisco and ran for two weeks at the Cort Theater


Valentino spent some extended time in San Francisco in 1917 before he traveled to fame, fortune and immortality in Hollywood. Again, the legend is that Valentino sold insurance bonds to earn his keep. Imagine having this handsome young man arrive at your door to sell bonds? It is no real surprise that he was apparently somewhat successful in this endeavor. Valentino, for a time, lived on Bush Street.

Valentino also earned his keep by falling back on what earned him a good living in New York, dancing. He was employed at Tait's Cafe . The ritzy Tait-Zinkand Cafe was a place to eat and also to be seen. Noted for fine dining and fine entertainment. Valentino made several society contacts here, including an alliance with the Spreckels family. The Tenderloin was a much nicer neighborhood back then.

Valentino also took the opportunity to pay a visit to A.P. Giannini, founder of The Bank of Italy.

Giannini offered the young lad from Italy some sage business advice and probably made him a loan of money, informal or otherwise. Valentino was never known to be particularly wise in the ways of finance, it is not outside the realm of possibility that Giannini grubstaked young Valentino during his stay in San Francisco. In any event, it is worth noting that A.P. Giannini was one of the mourners present at Valentino's funeral in Los Angeles in September, 1926.

Valentino did not take up Gianinni's business advice, he instead  traveled to Los Angeles, and we all know what happened then.

More of Valentino
in San Francisco
More photographs here