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.
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?
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:
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