Rudolph Valentino and Dad

screen idol Rudolph Valentino (1895 - 1926) as photographed by Mabel Sykes

Screen Idol Rudolph Valentino (1895 – 1926)
photographed by Mabel Sykes

Rudolph Valentino and Dad.  Just what do those two men have in common (other than their stunning good looks, of course?)

Why, the same professional photographer.  Yep, that’s right.  The same person who photographed American matinee screen idol Rudolph Valentino–heart throb to every self respecting  flapper of  the 1920s–also photographed my own father when he was a senior at Loyola Academy in Chicago, Illinois, back in 1927.

How do I know?

Recently when examining an early photo of my dad (Gerald J. Desmond, 1909-1979), I noticed  the card it was printed on was embossed with a logo unfamiliar to me.  It appeared to be a family crest with the name “Mabel Sykes” embossed beneath it.

Embossed beneath my father's senior picture from Loyola Academy, Chicago, 1927.

Embossed beneath my father’s senior picture from Loyola Academy, Chicago, 1927.

Gerald J. Desmond (1909-1979) as photographed by Mabel Sykes

Gerald J. Desmond
(1909-1979)
as photographed by Mabel Sykes

Like any run-of-the-mill researcher worth their salt, I immediately “Googled” the name. It seems Mabel Sykes was a renowned professional photographer of the day who worked in Chicago during the early part of the last century.  While a good  percentage of her work had to do with what are known today as “school portraits”, she also took on Hollywood’s elite and was said by Valentino himself to be his favorite photographer.

Oh, Daddy,  who knew you were in such sophisticated company?

Loyola Academy Class of 1927 My father, Gerald Joseph Desmond (1909-1970), is the 6th person in the second row from the bottom in the light jacket and dark tie.

Loyola Academy Class of 1927
Freshman year: My father, Gerald Joseph Desmond (1909-1970), is the 6th person in the second row from the bottom in the light jacket and dark tie.

Loyola Academy Class of 1927 My father, Gerald Joseph Desmond (1909-1970) is the last person in the middle row in the light sweater.

Loyola Academy Class of 1927
Sophomore year: My father, Gerald Joseph Desmond (1909-1979) is the last person in the middle row wearing the light sweater.

Loyola Academy Class of 1927 Junior year: My father, Gerald Joseph Desmond (1909-1970) is the fourth person standing in the second row from the top.  He’s wearing a dark suit and long tie.

Loyola Academy Class of 1927
Junior year: My father, Gerald Joseph Desmond (1909-1970) is the fourth person standing in the second row from the top. He’s wearing a dark suit and long tie.

Loyola Academy Class of 1927 My father, Gerald Joseph Desmond (1909-1970) is wearing a light jacket and is standing in the middle row immediately to the right of the two boys wearing the “LA” letter sweaters.

Loyola Academy Class of 1927
Senior Year: My father, Gerald Joseph Desmond (1909-1970) is wearing a light jacket and is standing in the middle row immediately to the right of the two boys wearing the “LA” letter sweaters.

Unfortunately, the names of the other boys in the class photos above (which were probably NOT taken by Mabel Sykes) are unknown. There are a few distinct faces that are repeated in each of the four photos, however, if you’re up for pursuing the search.

To learn more about the relationship between Chicago photographer Mabel Sykes and  silent era Hollywood icon Rudolph Valentino, consider stopping by one of the informative and entertaining websites below:

http://www.rudolph-valentino.com/portraits.htm

http://rudolphvalentino.org/rudy-central/

http://www.rudolph-valentino.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rudolph-Valentino-The-Silent-Idol-The-Book/376671706243

_____

Author’s note:  Be sure to see my next post written August 15, 2013 entitled “Hollywood Comes Calling Again”  for an update on the story above.

_____

Copyright © 2013 Patricia Desmond Biallas

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This entry was posted in Biographies, Just for Fun!, Photo Stories. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Rudolph Valentino and Dad

  1. Jana Last says:

    What a fun connection Patricia!

  2. Pingback: Hollywood Comes Calling Again! | GeneaJourneys

  3. Jana Last says:

    Patricia,

    I want to let you know that two of your blog posts are listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/08/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-august-16.html

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. Meg Biallas says:

    Mom — I love how you figured this out just by doing a google search on the photographer! It’s amazing where the rabbit trails can lead you!

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