Sunday, 25 July 2010
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The story of the Lady in Black who visits actor Rudolph Valentino's crypt has become one of the most fascinating and enduring Hollywood legends. The woman would visit the mausoleum each year on the anniversary of the actor's death, clad from head to foot in black, and leave red roses at his Los Angeles resting place. The identity of the woman was a mystery, but one of the most popular theories is that she was Ditra Flame, the daughter of one of Valentino's female friends. Ditra was sick in hospital and Valentino came to see her, bringing a single red rose. He told her "You're not going to die at all. You are going to outlive me by many years. But one thing's for sure - if I die before you do, please come and stay by me because I don't want to be alone either. You come and talk to me." Ditra did recover, but a few years later Valentino died after contracting a post-surgical infection. Remembering his request, she brought roses to his crypt each year afterwards. She didn't tell her story until 1947, by which time there had been several Lady in Black pretenders, all claiming to have had relationships with the late actor. Due to the press interest the amount of women donning black and making annual pilgrimages to the mausoleum increased, and by 1954 Ditra Flame was one of many Ladies in Black. She decided to stop as it was becoming more of a public spectacle than a private act of mourning, but she resumed in 1977 - but without the famous black attire. Flame died in 1984 and her gravestone in California identifies her as the 'Lady in Black'.
Picture from the LA Times blog.