Thursday, December 29, 2016

Separated at birth: Rudolph Valentino and William Shatner

AFTERNOTES. I was going to run this with no text at all, but now I feel moved to Say Something. Anyone who follows this blog (me, maybe?) knows that I am nuts about The Shatman. To be 85 years old and have that kind of energy and passion is phenomenal. (And the horses, don't get me started!) But I am also finding out more about Shatner's roots. I found a very poignant story about his professional beginnings in Stratford, Ontario (a place I've been to many times) as a Shakespearean actor. I have seen clips on YouTube from Hamlet and Julius Caesar, and this so-called-over-the-top actor gives, if anything, restrained performances. The article - God, where did it go? I should've bookmarked it - talks about how insecure he was as a young man, and how much of a loner he was. Loner? Insecure? None of these match with the energetic dynamo-of-85, the Shatner of a thousand interests and enterprises (ch-ch-ch-ch - dry ironic chuckle). And yet, and yet.

I'm also finding all these things he did when he was much younger. The segment on the boxer was breathtaking, for he has the body of an Adonis. He is ripped. This powerful, grounded physicality is the foundation for his phenomenal longevity and vitality in his 80s: if you wreck your body when you're young, you're toast by age 60 (sorry, Carrie, I'm afraid it's true). 

As for Rudolph Valentino, he was perhaps my first movie star crush. As a kid, I saw pictures of him in a book we had lying around, a big coffee table book called The Movies. (I thought I imagined it, until I was able to buy a used copy from Amazon.) When I was ten years old I wrote short stories about him, set in the 1920s. Maybe these foreshadowed my completely obscure, mostly-unread novel about Harold Lloyd. Who knows. But I was fascinated with him. 

I am not saying these two are "alike", but is there not something - an elusive something, perhaps, in the exoticism of their eyes, the sensuous bow-shaped lips, the incredible facial structure with cheekbones to die for - is there not something almost Mongolian about Shatner's slightly slanted eyes, something Moroccan about Valentino's inscrutable gaze? 
He was, of course, a Latino from Spain, but Shatner is not the waspy, white-bread leading man people assume he is. He is a Jewish boy from Montreal, and no doubt carried that label and responsibility with a degree of pain.

The pain you can see in those incredible, unfathomable brown eyes.

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