May 6, 2023 marks the 128th anniversary of Rudolph Valentino’s birth. My grandmother Rosina was born 151 years ago on May 6, 1872–a correct birth date according to her recently discovered official Italian birth record, although her gravestone reads “1873.”
Rudolph Valentino’s Father Would Have Rejoiced About News of a Truly Effective Vaccine Against Malaria (April 23, 2021)
Today I woke up and turned on the BBC for the latest news and was stunned by the news that an effective vaccine against malaria appears to have been developed.
As mentioned in an earlier post which discussed Valentino’s family history, Giovanni Antonio Giuseppe Fidele Guglielmi “began studying and doing lab research on malaria which was prevalent in the area, and after researching the deaths of horses and cattle, he found how the disease could be transmitted to the animals by mosquitoes just as it was transmitted to humans.” More details are found int the PhD dissertation by Jeanine Therese Villalobos, the great-grandniece of Valentino, entitled “Rudolph Valentino: The Early Years, 1895-1920.”
From Pages 59-60 of the thesis:
Civic minded, he turned his investigative eye to malaria, for decades an unchecked scourge on the South, a disease that even claimed the life Vittorio Emanuelle II, Italy’s first king. Giovanni made enough progress to see fit to publish his finding on bovine malaria and its relationship to human malaria, a study later cited by Ettiene Nocard of the Pasteur Institute in Paris. But Giovanni’s endeavor would prove to be a fatal one. “He contracted malaria during the research,” Alberto* would recall, “And I too contracted the disease.” Apparently, Gabrielle** fell prey as well, and struggled with it throughout her life. Alberto recovered, but Giovanni was not so lucky. From 1902 onward his health slowly declined.
Source: Villalobos, Jeanine Therese. “Rudolph Valentino: The Early Years, 1895-1920.” Diss. U of California, Irvine, 2009.
(Editor’s note: *Alberto, Rudolph’s older brother; **Garbrielle, Rudolph’s mother)
The quest for a malaria vaccine has been pursued for the last 100 years. The current vaccine, Mosquirix is effective only in preventing 39% of infections, and only 29% of severe infections in children in Africa. According to The Guardian, the new vaccine, R21/Matrix-M, offers “the real possibility of slashing the death toll of a disease that kills 400,000, mostly small children every year.”
From the BBC report, which reveals that the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine research was built on what had been discovered while researching malaria:
Malaria vaccine hailed as potential breakthrough
By Philippa Roxby
Study author Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute and professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said he believed the vaccine was the first to reach the World Health Organization’s goal of at least 75% efficacy.
The most effective malaria vaccine to date had only shown 55% efficacy in trials on African children.
The trials of this malaria vaccine started in 2019, long before coronavirus appeared – and the Oxford team developed its Covid vaccine (with AstraZeneca) on the strength of its research into malaria, Prof Hill said.
A malaria vaccine has taken much longer to come to fruition because there are thousands of genes in malaria compared to around a dozen in coronavirus, and a very high immune response is needed to fight off the disease.
“That’s a real technical challenge,” Prof Hill said. “The vast majority of vaccines haven’t worked because it’s very difficult.”
However, he said the trial results meant the vaccine was “very deployable” and “has the potential to have a major public health impact”.
The Guardian quotes Adrian Hill further:
Hill said the institute might apply for emergency approval for the malaria vaccine just as it did for the Covid jab. “I’m making the argument as forcefully as I can, that because malaria kills a lot more people than Covid in Africa, you should think about emergency-use authorisation for a malaria vaccine for use in Africa. And that’s never been done before.”
The institute would probably ask the regulatory bodies in Europe or the UK for a scientific opinion on the vaccine and then apply to the World Health Organization for approval for use in Africa. “They did Covid in months – why shouldn’t they do malaria in a similar length of time as the health problem is an even greater scale in Africa?” Hill said.
One has to wonder what Giovanni Guglielmi would be thinking if he were alive today…
Facts about malaria from the CDC:
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. People with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Left untreated, they may develop severe complications and die. In 2019 an estimated 229 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide and 409,000 people died, mostly children in the African Region. About 2,000 cases of malaria are diagnosed in the United States each year.
Rudolph Valentino’s Favorite Poet Has His Day…Dante Day, March 25, 2021…and a New Connection Is Revealed
In the April 15, 1922 issue of Pantomime Magazine, Rudolph Valentino was asked a series of questions aimed at revealing his “psychological profile.” Entitled Read ‘Em and Know ‘Em–A ‘Mental’ Photograph of Rodolfo Valentino, Valentino answered questions ranging from his favorite virtue (honor and modesty) to his ideas of happiness (a loving wife and children), unhappiness (loneliness), and many other questions…including “Who is your favorite poet?” Valentino responded “Dante Alighieri”.
Dante Alighieri (born c. May 21–June 20, 1265, Florence [Italy]—died September 13/14, 1321, Ravenna) is today being celebrated in Italy to mark the start of events to honor the 700th year of his death.
March 25 was picked last year to celebrate the man known to Italians as the “supreme poet” because most scholars believe his fictional journey through hell, purgatory and heaven — as told in the “Divine Comedy” — starts on this day.
According to Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Dante is still relevant in the modern world because of the “universality” of that masterpiece.Source: Agence France Presse, Italy Celebrates Its ‘Supreme Poet’ With Dante Day, by By Gaël BRANCHEREAU
March 25, 2021 via Barron’s
I studied the Divine Comedy in college and, apparently, so did my parents. I pulled off my bookshelf a copy of the “first annotated edition of the Italian text” which was published in 1909, with subsequent printings in 1911 and 1913. This edition, edited and annotated by C.H. Grandgent, Professor of Romance Languages, Harvard University includes fascinating diagrams to help the reader on the journey. I wish I had this edition in hand when I studied this work!
In another coincidence that occurred just a few days ago, I reconnected with a well-known plein air artist, Frank LaLumia, whose family shares the same hometown in Sicily (Campofelice di fitalia) and the same name as my family with a slight variation of the spelling (although on his website the name appears at times as one word, just like my name because of site formatting.) I’ve know that some of the families coming to America went, not only to New York, but also to New Orleans among other destinations. In fact, when I was a child during the mid-1950’s visitors from New Orleans came to visit family in Lodi, New Jersey, bringing their own Coca Cola because they claimed the “recipe” was different than what was sold in the North! (I don’t know if that was really true or not!)
However, some of the New Orleans branch moved up to Chicago…and my new contact was born there. Years later, he resided in Santa Fe, New Mexico and then moved to Trinidad, Colorado, just over the border. As a long time resident of New Mexico, we’re about a long day’s drive away.
I’ve know about the work of Frank LaLumia for years, so it was a thrill to connect with him. Frank has authored a book entitled PLEIN AIR PAINTING IN WATERCOLOR AND OIL, North Light Publications and has also been a Contributing Artist for the P.B.S. Series PLEIN AIR: PAINTING THE AMERICAN LANDSCAPE. On his website, Frank Lalumia Fine Art, you can enjoy his beautiful art, which also includes work in watercolor and oil and new contemporary pieces.
So, what does all this have to do with Dante Day?
In his Artist Statement (2017), Frank discusses his Contemporary Watercolors this way (excerpt):
My series of Contemporary Watercolors was born in Hell, and has been rising ever since. In the 1980’s, it was sparked by a profound inspiration with the work of Dante Alighieri. The DIVINE COMEDY, (and particularly the INFERNO), was perfect for this concept. The subject matter in my series is evocative rather than descriptive or literal, lending itself perfectly to the idea of ‘found’ or discovered’ painting. And what better place to exploit the expressive potential of the medium itself?
So, on Dante Day, I am celebrating all the “found” connections between the mind of Rudolph Valentino, the art of Frank LaLumia, and a new branch of the family.
3. Part 1: Rudolph Valentino’s Family–His Parents …(and My Great-Grandparents and Grandparents…) Updated 4/20/2021
Most fans have seen pictures of Valentino’s mother and father and know that his mother was French and his father was Italian. They were well-educated people and considered to be middle class at the time. Giovanni Guglielmi served in the military, achieving the rank of captain, then graduated from the University of Naples and became a veterinarian, traveling the countryside tending to the livestock of the rural farmers and paid, often not with money, but with what the farmers produced from their land…cheese, wine, olives and their grain harvests. He began studying and doing lab research on malaria which was prevalent in the area, and after researching the deaths of horses and cattle, he found how the disease could be transmitted to the animals by mosquitoes just as it was transmitted to humans.
Rudolph’s mother was the daughter of an engineer (also described as an “engineering technician”) who came to Italy, charged with building a a bridge between Taranto and Bari. Before her marriage, she was the companion of a wealthy noblewoman named Marchesa Giovinazzi. The educated and refined Gabrielle loved to read, recite French poetry, discuss philosophy and also possessed skills in sewing and embroidery. She was also described as being a wonderful storyteller, recounting stories of nobility, their adventures and their glory.
Giovanni and Gabrielle married in June 1889. Giovanni would die in March 1906 at age 53 from the malaria that he studied and Gabrielle would die on January 18, 1918 in France, never having seen her son Rudolph again after he went to America.
Giovanni Antonio Giuseppe Fidele Guglielmi
(February 9, 1853-March 24, 1906)
Marie Berthe(a) Gabrielle(a) Barbin
(1856-January 18, 1918)
By contrast, my family came from far more modest backgrounds. While husbands could read and write, the wives were illiterate. The men learned English, while their wives apparently spoke only Italian and worked in the home.
MY GREAT-GRANDPARENTS–MY MOTHER’S GRANDPARENTS, HER FATHER’S SIDE
Vincenzo Socci cultivated the land. He was still working with his vegetable plot and grapevines in old age.
The family house still stands in Casalnuovo Monterotaro. My grandfather (Ernesto) would tell stories about how the family lived in rooms above the stable which housed their animals. (Today, the house is still in the family and the stable has been renovated to provide a kitchen and living space with the former family rooms now transformed into bedrooms.) When he came to the United States he particularly missed his donkey which he called “Gentilezza” although he pronounced the name more like “Gentilique.” From my mother’s life story (see NOTE below):
Life in his little town was very difficult. Families owned small plots of land outside the town which were their main sustenance. They also plied other trades such as shoemaker, seamstress, mechanic and blacksmithing.
Out of 12 children born, 6 sons survived. One stayed in Italy, one came to the United States and returned, and 4 settled permanently, although the oldest returned to Italy very late in life to satisfy his wife’s wishes.
MY GREAT-GRANDPARENTS–MY MOTHER’S GRANDPARENTS, HER MOTHER’S SIDE
Antonio Bosco came to the United States from Sorrento or a small town in its environs, just south of Naples. Antonio Bosco is hard to pin down in terms of what he actually did to support his family. UPDATED: The New York City Census dated June 1, 1905 reveals that Antonio operated a rag shop and that his wife Rosario worked there as a “rag sorter.” There is little doubt that times were hard. His first wife, nee’ Grazia Pepe (1873-1902) had five children, 2 girls and 3 boys, all born in New York between 1894 and 1901. And then, Grazia seems to have a boy who passed away at 2 months of age. Finally, the twins she gave birth to in 1902 died. As my mother writes in her life story, when her mother was 8 years old “her mother and the twins she had given birth to died.” All the children then went to an orphanage…all except my grandmother, Rosina (Rose) who is pictured below. Antonio then married Rosaria (est. 1903) to take care of the family and the four siblings left the orphanage. More will be told of this story in a subsequent post.
MY GRANDPARENTS–MY FATHER’S SIDE
Giuseppe Lalumia (possibly La Lumia) emigrated to the United States in 1891 and his first daughter, Lucia, was born in New York. I have not located any information about his first wife as of yet. After he was widowed he married Rosina in 1902. She had emigrated in 1893. They had 4 more children, 2 born in New York, 2 born in New Jersey, before she died in 1920. Giuseppe entered the country as a road laborer; in the 1915 New Jersey Census and the 1920 U.S. Census his occupation was listed as “grocer” in Lodi, New Jersey, where many Italians settled. By the time of the 1930 U.S. Census he was back working as a road laborer, but in the 1940 U.S. Census he was noted as being a merchant again, this time running a candy store.
The final resting place of Giuseppe and Rosina, St. Nicholas’ Cemetery, Lodi, New Jersey
MY GRANDPARENTS–MY MOTHER’S SIDE
The story of my grandparents, Ernesto and Rosina (Rose) will be told in my next post because they belong to Rudolph Valentino’s generation.
NOTE–In the late 1990’s my mother participated in a “Write Your Life Story” workshop and excerpts from the story she wrote then will be included throughout this blog.
Sources of biographical information about Rudolph’s parents:
Emily W, Leider Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003) 1-17.
Aurelio Miccoli, The Infancy of the Myth: Rudolph Valentino’s Childhood Years (Translated by Angelo Perrone. Torino, Italy: Viale Industria Publicazioni, 2014) 1-43.
2. Valentino and My Family: Southern Italian Roots
Rudolph Valentino was born in Castellaneta in the Region of Puglia (Apulia), Province of Taranto in Southern Italy. My family also comes from Southern Italy–my mother’s side from further north in the Region of Puglia (Apulia), Province of Foggia and my father’s side from about as far south as possible…Campofelice di fitalia, Province of Palermo, Sicily. The maps below and a brief summary of the key locations in the lives of Valentino and and my family illustrate our Italy.
(If images do not appear on mobile phones or tablets or on the WordPress app, visit the GALLERY tab for a duplicate location map…although sometimes it won’t appear there! Quixotic WordPress…)
Brown areas designate Southern Italy
Connections: Southern Italy
Castellaneta (birthplace) Region: Puglia; Province of Taranto
Taranto (moved here age 9) Region: Puglia; Province of Taranto
Perugia (age 11.5, sent to the Boarding School for Orphans of Italian Health Professionals, technical school with liberal arts, arrived October 1906) Region: Umbria; Province of Perugia
*Nervi (age 15.5, Agricultural Institute of Saint Ilario of Liguria, arrived October 1910, graduated end of October 1911) Region: Liguria; Province of Genoa (Northern Italy)
Campobasso (Brother Albert served here as General Secretary of the City of Campobasso, early 1920’s) Region: Molise; Province of Campobasso
*Juan-les-pins (South of France, Hudnut/Rambova estate) Commune of Antibes, in the Alpes-Maritimes, in southeastern France, on the Côte d’Azur
Casalnuovo Monterotaro (origins, mother’s side) Region: Puglia; Province of Foggia
Campofelice di fitalia (origins, father’s side) Region: Sicily; Province of Palermo
Torre del Greco (my great uncle returned here to his wife’s home, mid-1950’s) Region: Campania; Province of Naples. A comune in the Metropolitan City of Naples.
Campobasso (current home of relatives on my mother’s side) Region: Molise; Province of Campobasso
*Locations outside Southern Italy
KEY LOCATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH RUDOLPH VALENTINO AND MY FAMILY
1. Rudolph Valentino, My Family and Me
From the ABOUT description….
In July 2020 I was once again digging through bins of photos and personal items related to my family. Suddenly, I had an overwhelming urge to delve into the life of Rudolph Valentino…On my other blog named Open Range Ramblings I have recounted how I came to be inspired by the legendary racehorse, Secretariat. The connection came out of the blue late one night …and the same thing happened that July 2020 evening. Suddenly, it was as if Rudolph Valentino had become part of my life.
A series of rapidly unfolding coincidences, synchronicities, and “signs” cemented my feeling that a connection was there….
Just to begin…
Rudy Valentino Loved His Pasta…And So Do I!
…and he made great spaghetti sauce…or, as we call it…gravy.
I hope you will enjoy the posts that follow…The Table of Contents tab shows the posts/links in order of when published.
NOTE: Posts which pertain to Valentino and specifically to my family members are numbered, starting with “1.” (this post).