In 1922, Rudolph Valentino was one of the most famous men alive. But few knew that the star had a dirty secret that he desperately wanted to bury. The lurid tale began a decade earlier when former Yale football star and notorious playboy Jack de Saulles made headlines across three continents by pursuing the beautiful young Chilean heiress Blanca Errazuriz, known as the Star of Santiago. After the birth of their son, though, the marriage soured. Jack was going after every chorus girl on Broadway, claiming that Blanca had banished him from their bed. By 1916, Blanca wanted a divorce, rare then and even more so in a wealthy, powerful Catholic family. Enter Valentino, then still known as Rodolfo Guglielmi, a professional dancer in New York City, famous for the Argentinean tango. Blanca discovered that her husband had been sleeping with Joan Sawyer, Rodolfo's dance partner, so she set about cultivating the hungry young performer. Whether Blanca and Guglielmi became lovers remains unclear, but the ambitious Italian gave evidence on her behalf in divorce court. Furious, de Saulles had Guglielmi arrested on trumped-up vice charges, tarnishing the dancer's reputation. But Blanca was fighting bigger battles. De Saulles's family had been pulling strings, persuading the courts to grant him partial custody of their child. When it appeared that he wasn't going to return the boy to his mother's care, Blanca exploded. On a sweltering August night in 1917, she drove to Jack's mansion and shot him dead. Several people witnessed the act, but Blanca's family hired the best defense lawyer around, who salvaged de Saulles's reputation and made Blanca out to be a saint. During the "most sensational trial of the decade," millions devoured the juicy details of how a high-society marriage violently unraveled. Guglielmi, desperate to avoid further poisonous publicity, fled to California, changed his name to Rudolph Valentino, and the rest is Hollywood history.
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Number of pages: 304
Dimensions: 216 x 140 mm
This meticulously reconstructed account of a 1917 murder trial features a lurid cast and copious melodrama. Almost as soon as Chilean heiress Blanca Errazuriz married New York real estate mogul Jack De Saulles in 1912, she suffered terrible humiliations. The rakish De Saulles schemed to get access to his wife's family fortune to finance his business deals and taste for luxury, and was notorious for his philandering. The birth of their son, Jack Jr., failed to put things right, and after muddling along for four years, Blanca filed for divorce in 1916. Less than a year later, she shot and killed De Saulles in front of several witnesses during a custody dispute; she was acquitted during a sensational trial in 1917. As the marriage fell apart, De Saulles's liaisons with actresses and Broadway stars, including the dancer Joan Sawyer, pulled Sawyer's dance partner, a struggling tango dancer named Rudolfo Guglielmi (who became silent film star Rudolf Valentino), into Jack and Blanca's orbit. While Valentino provides modern readers with a reference point, his rumored connection to Blanca is an aside in Evans's work, which documents one in a string of the era's 'wronged women' cases that all ended in acquittals of the killers. * Publishers Weekly *
"A narrative reminiscent of the background melodramas of The Great Gatsby or the musical Chicago ... A sordid narrative presented in brisk, entertaining fashion ... A well-researched tale of a distant-seeming era and crime, echoing our own time's obsession with celebrity transgression and capacity for justifying violence."
"This meticulously reconstructed account ... features a lurid cast and copious melodrama."
Praise for The Casebook of Forensic Detection:
"Pithy, concise, and remarkably accurate." -Science Books & Films
"A mystery novelist's essential resource guide." -Book News
"Even the most dedicated devotee of the genre will find much that is new in these brief but exciting accounts." -Publishers Weekly
Praise for The Father of Forensics:
"Evans's account ... grips from the outset like a thriller. It is a riveting story." -Good Book Guide
"A full plate of murder ... Evans proves to be a verbally agile narrator of the macabre. ... A page-turner." -Booklist
Praise for Blood on the Table:
"A fascinating story ... complete with clues to be discovered, internal intrigue, cut-throat politics and lots of local color. Evans writes with vibrant detail ... and keeps things clicking while sticking to the facts; true crime buffs will not want to miss it."
-Publishers Weekly starred review
"Pithy portraits ... Rendering these grim stories with verve, Evans ... again taps a loyal readership." -Booklist
Praise for Slaughter on a Snowy Morn:
"With a cast of characters brought to life in superb style, Evans cannot fail to keep you gripped until the very last page." -History Books Review
"An astonishing story, and Colin Evans tells it with tremendous gusto. ... He marshals all his research with great skill to produce a narrative as gripping and exciting as most thrillers." -Waterstones Quarterly
"A detailed and very readable account" -The Crime Writers' Association