Monday, April 18, 2011

Ramon Novarro (1899-1968)

Born into an upper class family from Durango, Mexico, Novarro relocated to the Los Angeles California in 1916.  Although Novarro's father was a successful dentist in his native country, he moved his family out of Mexico due to the ongoing Revolution.  Like so many young men before him, Ramon took odd jobs in and around Los Angeles before finding work as an extra in films during 1916.  His first brief and uncredited appearance on screen would be in "Joan the Woman" 1916 starring Geraldine Farrar, Wallace Reid, and Raymond Hatton.  A little silent about the life of Joan of Arc.  Although he kept busy working as an extra his first screen credit wouldn't come for another 5 years when he was cast in "Mr. Barnes of New York" 1922.

With his dark good looks and undeniable sex appeal the studio offered Novarro a role in "The Prisoner of Zenda" 1922, starring silent greats Lewis Stone, Alice Terry, Barbara LaMarr and Robert Edeson.  Still going by his birth name of Ramon Samaniegos, his role was small, playing Rupert of Hentzau but it would change his life going forward.  By the end of 1922 he was receiving co-star billing alongside the beautiful Barbara LaMarr in the silent "Trifling Woman".  Now under contract at MGM, he would reunite with Alice Terry again in 1923 for "Where the Pavement Ends" which like "Prisoner of Zenda" was directed by Rex Ingram, Terry's husband.  She would actually have to take over direction of the film midway through when Ingram refused to finish upon learning he wouldn't be directing "Ben Hur" for the studio.   (What a nice wife she was to step up when hubby had another of his tantrums.)  Sadly "Where the Pavement Ends" is one of the many films that would be lost.  If only the studio had safeguarded those negatives for future preservation.

In Road to Romance 1927

Novarro's second film of 1933 was the very successful drama "Scaramouche", his third picture with Alice Terry and directed by Rex Ingram who was back on set after his tantrum.  MGM would go all out on the film, sparing no expense on the lavish sets which included a French villiage covering 60 acres and costumes made of the finest materials.  (Perhaps Ingram was getting back at the studio by denting their pocket book but the expense would pay off at the box office.)

Ramon worked steadily throughout 1924 in the films "Thy Name Is Woman", a romantic comedy co-starring LaMarr.  Then he would reunite with Alice Terry for "The Arab".  The film was considered lost until 2010 when a copy was found in the Russian State Archive, it was later presented to the Library of Congress in late 2010.  (Of Alice Terry's 29 films, only 12 have survived.)  Novarro's third picture of 1923 would be the romantic drama "The Red Lily" which co-starred Wallace Beery and Enid Bennett.

Click on Ramon's autograph from my collection and photos for a large view.

With Conrad Nagel in Son of  India 1931

With Greta Garbo in "Mata Hari"

Ramon starred in three films during 1925 but sadly his first two "A Lover's Oath", a romantic fantasy then "The Midshipman" have been lost or damaged.  Only "A Lover's Oath has fragments that have survived.  His final film of 1925 would be "Ben-Hur A Tale of the Christ" in which he received top billing above Francis X Bushman, Carmel Myers, Betty Bronson, May McAvoy and Claire McDowell.  The most expensive silent film ever made with a budget of $3.9 million, MGM spared no expense with several sea battle scenes being filmed on location off the coast of Italy.  While everyone recognizes Ben-Hur due to the 1959 version this original really is the most visually appealing to me.  It's been restored with colorization added and a musical score for those looking for an hour of gripping action,  (the best chariot scene of the two versions) gorgeous sets and Novarro playing Judah to perfection while Bushman gives an outstanding performance as Messala.

 In "Ben-Hur" 1925

With Francis X. Bushman and May McAvoy in "Ben-Hur"

Ramon, fresh off of his success in "Ben-Hur" had no pictures released during 1926 but he returned for "Lovers" the following year, reuniting him with Alice Terry for the romantic drama. (Unfortunately it's one of their lost films) then he would star in "The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg"  with Norma Shearer an Jean Hersholt.  This was the first of Novarro's films that I saw and even though I've never been a huge fan of Shearer I went into it very optimistic.  I came out of it in love with Ramon who plays the young Prince to perfection as he falls in love with Shearer's character, a barmaid in Heidelberg where he attends school in order to escape his lonely life in his gilded cage.  

Novarro and Francis X. Bushman in "Ben-Hur"

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch, even if you aren't a fan of romantic period pieces you'll appreciate this film for how beautifully the story of  loneliness, new found love then tragedy is told through Lubitsch's vision with such attention to every detail.  After seeing it I went on a quest to see every Novarro film available.  Sadly the majority have been lost so do yourself a favor and see this one and the original Ben-Hur if you haven't had the pleasure.  His other film of 1927 "The Road to Romance" about a dashing Spaniard who fights pirates on an island to rescue his beautiful Serafina has also been lost.  It sounds like a fun film but then again I could watch Novarro sitting at a table for an hour counting granules of salt.  It should be noted that Rudolph Valentino had died suddenly the previous year so Novarro, Gilbert Roland and Ricardo Cortez where cast in these "Latin Lover" roles to filll the void from Valentino's passing, very big shoes to fill. 

with Norma Shearer in "The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg"

with Greta Garbo in "Mata Hari"

Novarro started out 1928 with the very successful romantic adventure "Across to Singapore" with Joan Crawford and Ernest Torrence .  Directed by Nigh it keeps your attention with some really funny scenes between Novarro and Torrence. Even though the budget obviously didn't go into the sets/locations and if you're a fan of Crawford. (You don't have to hear her speak and her facial expressions aren't too over the top either, she's really quite lovely in it if I'm being honest.)

He would also star in the comedy "A Certain Young Man" with Rene Adoree and Carmel Myers, another film that was also lost which is a shame because I love him in a slapstick comedies.  He would also star in another period piece with Adoree that year, "Forbidden Hours", also lost which really is depressing.  Every time I bring up Novarro and how much I adored him in silents then going in to early talkies most people haven't seen his films or even heard of him, most likely because his films just aren't available then theres the fact that his three big pictures were remade years later, thus overshadowing the silent originals.  

with Rene Adoree

with Rene Adoree in "Forbidden Hours" 1928

During the late 1920's action adventures and films depicting the tragedies of war were very popular with "Wing's" winning the first Academy Award in 1929. That same year MGM released "The Flying Fleet" with Novarro as a bright eyed aviator with Ralph Graves playing his best buddy and fellow aviator as they fly missions as members of the distinguished Flying Fleet.  It's beautifully filmed, the two leading men are gorgeous and Anita Page is just adorable.  It's not as gritty and depressing as "Wings" but it's just as good if not better in my opinion.  (I'm pretty sure the Clara Bow and Gary Cooper fans will weigh in to dispute it but thats okay.)  For the year that it was made the cinematography is pretty remarkable and a lot of fun for those interested in early aviation with a great love story and a genuine friendship thrown in to the mix  

With Joan Crawford in "Across To Singapore" 1928

Novarro and Joan Crawford in "Across to Singapore"

He would also appear in "The Pagan" that year opposite Rene Adoree and Donald Crisp.  I've seen this film only once and it's been at least 15 years ago if not longer. All I remember was how evil Crisp's character was and how funny and endearing Novarro was playing a half breed dealing with life through hardships and undue treatment while being kept from enjoying a life with the woman he loves.  Ramon's first talky came at the end of 1929 with "Devil-May-Care" co-starring Dorothy Jordan and Marion Harris.  

When other silent actors were being tested during the advent of talkies then quickly released from their contracts or just given terrible scripts until they faded into oblivion, Novarro was one of the few who not only survived the transition but he did so without much criticism.  Luckily, audiences were quite pleased with his speaking voice and his ability to actually sing his own songs in his first talkie. Hearing their favorite silent actors speak for the first time must have been quite interesting for audiences since your imagination can leave you with thinking one thing then hearing quite the opposite.  I can imagine all of this was a bit frustrating for poor John Gilbert who couldn't have been pleased with other leading men maintaining success while his took a nose dive as soon as he spoke his first few words.  

Ramon at the entrance of his home theater.

As he appeared in "The Flying Fleet" 1929

With the talkies here to stay and Novarro getting great reviews for his singing in his first talkie, the studio threw him into "In Gay Madrid" in 1930 opposite Dorothy Jordan and Lottice Howell.  The female leads were miscast and as funny and interesting as Novarro was getting to go back to his Spanish roots, the film was hard to take at times.  Perhaps it's Novarro playing this playboy who's seeing two different women, carefree and insensitive when he's just not particularly believable in that type of role.  

He would reunite with Rene Adoree that year for the original "Call of the Flesh" which co-starred Dorothy Jordan and Ernest Torrence.  Novarro is back in the type of role that I enjoyed him in and obviously the audiences of that era since it was another success for MGM.  Novarro is handsome, likable, and he sings very well as he plays Juan de Dios with wit and sweetness.  Sadly, Rene Adoree was suffering from tuberculosis during filming, she would pass away in 1933 as a result of her illness. This would be her last film. 

 With Dorthy Jordan in "In Gay Madrid"

First up for Novarro in 1931 would be "Daybreak" co-starring Helen Chandler, Jean Hersholt and and C. Aubrey Smith.  This was a really enjoyable film with Novarro at his best playing an Austrian Imperial Guard. Theres gambling, a house of prostitution (which is behind  misunderstandings, heartbreak, vindictiveness then love) plus it's Pre-Code,which makes it even more appealing.  I adore Novarro's quick wit and it really is a shame that they didn't give him better comedic roles because I think it would have taken his career to another level.  The few funny scenes Novarro has in this film and others make my point completely.

Ramon also starred in "Son of India" the same year opposite Conrad Nagel, Madge Evans and C. Aubrey Smith.  It certainly isn't my favorite of his films and it's not my least favorite because he does the best he can with the script.  Indian boy triumphs over poverty to become wealthy while facing the struggles of finding love with an American girl at a time and place where it's taboo.  Nagel was a disappointment as Novarro's American friend then theres Novarro playing a man from India with a Latin accent. I won't even get started on how terrible the costumes were which makes Novarro look extremely silly.  Lets just say if I were to do a snarky photo review of any of Ramon's films this would be the one.

With Joan Crawford in "Across to Singapore" 192

Novarro in "Daybreak" 1931

With Helen Chandler in "Daybreak" 1931

Ramon would finally get the opportunity to star in a film with Greta Garbo and Lionel Barrymore at the end of 1931, the romantic drama "Mata Hari".  Loosely based on the German spy, it has decent moments with Novarro playing the young officer that Garbo seduces but I have to say I regrettably can't take Garbo's character seriously with her over emoting.  Although the one thing I can say about her thats nice is her thick German accent finally fits beautifully with her movie character.   It's pre-code of course and I wish I had enjoyed it a bit more, perhaps if anyone else had played Mata Hari.  Talk about actors moving forward with the advent of talkies! I honestly could take or leave Garbo although I enjoy her silents, everything past that is a different story entirely although many will disagree.  

  With Greta Garbo in "Mata Hari" 1931

Another scene from "Mata Hari" with Garbo.

Novarro would appear in only two films during 1932, "Huddle" co-starring Madge Evans and Una Merkel. I haven't seen this film although I've tried to find it over the years. It sounds fun and a break from Novarro's usual roles, this time playing an Italian Immigrant attending Yale while experiencing the ups and downs of romance, prejudice and athletics.  If anyones seen it please let me know what you thought of it.

His second picture that year is my favorite of all of his talkies,  "The Son-Daughter" co-starring Helen Hayes and Lewis Stone.  Every character plays Chinese Immigrants who have relocated to San Fransisco's Chinatown during the early 1900's.  I bought Novarro, Stone and Hayes in their roles hook line and sinker!  Hayes is shy but adorable as she begins a courtship with the equally shy Tom Lee (played by Novarro).  Of course things take an ugly tone when the father in need of money to send back to China, has to auction off his daughters hand to the highest bidder.  Out of love and a strong desire to gain respect from her father, Helen's character finally finds her voice and the strength that makes the ending, although sad, very rewarding.  

Loy and Novarro in "The Barbarian" 1933

With Myrna Loy and Blanche Fiderici on the set of "The Barbarian"

Novarro would pair up with Myrna Loy in 1933 for "The Barbarian" his only film that year. With it's silly script of a beautiful Brit being taken advantage of by a tour guide in Cairo who makes his living scamming wealthy foreigners.  Loy is stunning and I certainly could see the attraction she has for Novarro's character, allowing his dashing good looks and charm to blind her to his true motives.  The movie worked for me even though both of their accents were way off of who their characters were supposed to be.  I love Reginald Denny and he doesn't disappoint as Loy's suspicious fiancée, of course he's no match for Novarro.  This would be the remake of "The Arab" which was one of Novarro's most popular silent roles.  Produced by Novarro and Pre-code with Loy doing a nude scene, it's racy and well worth watching.

Novarro in costume for "The Son-Daughter" 1932

With Lewis Stone in "The Son-Daughter" 1932

Novarro, still a huge box office draw, starred in a romantic musical with Jeannette MacDonald and Frank Morgan at the beginning of 1934, "The Cat and the Fiddle".  It was well received with both Novarro and MacDonald using their beautiful singing voices and their on screen chemistry to draw you in.  I'm certainly not a big fan of musicals but I thought this one was well written and I wasn't ready to put cotton in my ears half way through.  (I'm batting a thousand today with Garbo fans, "Wings" fans and now with lovers of Musicals!) Novarro's second film of 1934 would be "Laughing Boy" co-starring Lupe Velez.  I just didn't buy Novarro as a Native American living on a reservation then falling in love with Velez who's also Native American.  Even if you can get passed the accents, Novarro's wig is hysterical and the chemistry between him and Velez is just non existent.  A waste of two great actors talents under the direction of Van Dyke which is a shame since the novel Laughing Boy was very good.  

With Lupe Velez in "Laughing Boy" 1934

With Jeannette MacDonald in "The Cat in the Fiddle" 1934

Now in his mid 30's, Novarro was still getting leading man status but in less desirable roles compared to up and coming young stars at MGM.  He appeared in one film during 1935, Another romantic musical again playing Austrian royalty.  Things were slowing down with him not working during 1936 and appearing in just one film during 1937, "The Sheik Steps Out" which co-starred Lola Lane.  A knock off of Valentino's version which was either made to give Novarro his comeback or to sink his career so far he would not be able to recover.  He had certainly made enough money during his years at MGM that he didn't need to work at all. 

1938 brought Novarro's time at MGM to a close, now released from his contract with roles no longer coming his way he took a starring role in "A Desperate Adventure" at Republic Pictures. Marion Marsh plays his love interest in the film with him playing an artist who's quite likable.  Considering the budget and the rest of the cast I actually enjoyed Novarro in it and he's still quite handsome.

With Lola Lane in "The Sheik Steps Out"

In "The Sheik Steps Out" 1937

Unable to find work in America, Ramon traveled to Europe to make two films during 1940, "La Comedie du Bonheur" in France then "Ecco la Felicita" in Italy (which has no surviving copy on record as of today).  Two years later he would return to his native Mexico to star in "The Saint That Forged a Country" under the famous Mexican filmmaker Julio Bracho.  Reprising his earlier role as Juan Diego, the picture was very successful in Mexico and it received good reviews when it was later released in the U.S..

It would be another 7 years before Novarro would appear on screen, taking a supporting role in Walter Huston's adventure "We Were Strangers" 1949 starring John Garfield and Jennifer Jones.  Silent actor Gilbert Roland would also have a small part in the film about Cuban revolutionaries.  Ramon would also film "The Big Steal" that year with stars Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer.  He plays the Inspector General who chases a group of criminals who are on the run trying to evade capture all over Mexico.  

In costume for "Mata Hari"

And again with Greta Garbo in "Mata Hari"

Novarro was back at MGM in 1950 to co-star in the Western "The Outriders" starring Joel McCrea and Arlene Dahl.  Taking place during the Civil War, Novarro gives an outstanding performance that overshadows the rest of the cast while playing Don Antonio Chaves.  With its watered down script and cheap budget you really don't expect a lot out of it but Novarro saves the film from being completely forgettable so kudos to the studio for having the good sense to ask him back to show younger audiences why he was at the top of MGM's roster of stars during the late 20's through the 1930's.  

Just when you think the studio had come to it's senses and realized Novarro could carry a picture given the right script they throw him into a film that was originally band in Mexico and South America who made out since it should have been scrapped and left on the cutting room floor!  "Crisis" which is a fitting title for the thriller/drama starring Cary Grant and Jose Ferrer.  Grant's a surgeon who winds up being imprisoned in Mexico on trumped up charges and forced to do surgery on one of the bad guys in order to gain his freedom. What a stink fest and worthy of a pictorial review now that I think about it.  It's painful to even think about my favorite comedic actor, Grant and Novarro who I adore agreeing to this mess but there it is and moving on.  

With Kathleen Key for "Ben-Hur"

 Ramon, not really needing to work in his later years due to smart real estate investments, only took roles on occasion on television throughout the 1950's into the late 1960's in shows like Rawhide, Bonanza, The Wild Wild West, and on Dr. Kildare.  Sadly his last film role would be in "Crisis" at MGM where his career started so many years before in 1916.  

Ramon never married but he did have two long term relationships during his lifetime. His first relationship was with the author Richard Haliburton who he remained very close friends with, then he became romantically involved with the journalist Herbert Howe who later became Novarro's publicist during the 1920's.  Although Novarro was not considered openly gay, it was common knowledge in Hollywood at the studio by his co-stars and the studio higher ups that he was a homosexual.  Early in his career Louis B. Mayer tried to convince him to marry like other gay or bisexual men before him but Ramon declined, and good for him because theres no indication that it hindered his career whatsoever.  

Ramon's life came to a tragic end in late 1968 when he gave in to his loneliness, opting to seek out company and perhaps a sexual liaison through an escort service.  Theres been many things written about what took place that dark evening and although I've read different takes on things and the graphic and horrific details of Mr. Novarro's death I just don't feel this is the place to go over those details out of respect for him and his legacy as a very good actor and a kind man.  All that I will say about his death in order to write a full piece on his life is, he naively allowed two young men into his beautiful home only to have them beat him, torture him and humiliate him for hours in the hopes that some stupid rumor was true that he kept a large amount of cash hidden in his Laurel Canyon home.  At the end of what had to be an unimaginable few hours before  suffocating to death and the two thugs leaving with a mere $20 which they found in Novarro's bathrobe.  

To make an already tragic event even worse, the brother's who were convicted of the crime did less than a year in prison before being released on probation.  

Ramon Novarro was laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.  His grave site can be viewed HERE.  His career spanned over five decades and included close to 60 films, sadly a lot of his early pictures haven't survived or were lost completely. 

Ramon Novarro Facts:

At the height of his career during the early 1930's he was making up to $100,000 a picture, making him one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood during that time.  He was also given a salary of $10,000 a week during the making of "Ben-Hur".

The actress Dolores Del Rio is his second cousin. They were never cast together in any films since all of Del Rio's early films were for FOX and RKO studios down the street. (I'll be doing a post on her at a later date)
Venus from  was nice enough to email me this photo of Dolores Del Rio and Ramon to add! Thanks Venus.

He met director Rex Ingram and his wife, silent actress Alice Terry during the filming of  "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" where they noticed his dark good looks and his presence on screen.  He became fast friends with the married duo while they worked promoting him as the next Valentino.  Of course in just five short years that would come to pass with Rudolph's sudden death.  Quite ironic since they all met on Valentino's film and immediately tried to groom his replacement with an extra who had no lines or film credits so far.  It was also Alice who suggested he change his last name to Novarro.

A book about the events of his death titled "Bloody Wednesday" was rushed into publication but few copies survived, making them a collectors item.  

He once quoted: "I was always the hero with no vices, reciting practically the same lines to the leading lady.  The current crop of movie actors are less handicapped than the old ones.  They are more human.  The leading men of silent films were Adonises and Apollos.  Today the hero can even take a poke at the leading lady.  In my time a hero who hit the girl just once would have been out."

When Ramon's second spin off of  "The Arab"  titled "The Sheik Steps Out" came out in theaters in 1937 to poor attendance and less than stellar reviews, the studio blamed it on younger audiences not knowing what a Sheik was nor a heiress for that matter.  

The costume department added 2 inch lifts to his shoes during scenes with Greta Garbo for "Mata Hari". At 5'10 and with Garbo in heels they wanted Novarro to appear to tower over her. (Garbo was 5'7)

Thanks for joining me for a look back at Ramon Novarro's life and career.  Please feel free to leave a comment and enjoy the below clip of Ramon and Joan Crawford in a really cute scene from "Across to Singapore" 



  1. Thank you for this - Ramon's one of my favorites, and you have some really terrific pictures here I've never seen before! ^_^

  2. Avalon,
    It's great to see another fan of Novarro's! It's such a shame more isn't written about him with credit to how wonderful an actor he was.

    I added a couple more photos that I had forgotten about! The one of him and Joan facing one another is so beautiful, you'll have to click for a better view.

  3. Page, What an awesome Ramon, Bio!! Beautiful pictures too!

  4. Thank you Dawn!
    I'm so glad you enjoyed it from one silent era fan to another. : )

  5. Page! he was my first old movie Crush! I love you for posting this! He is definitely still in the top five spot with me (I want to say the number one spot, but next week I'll see a Chaplin or Gilbert film and be thrown into a fit of second guessing). Anyway About the blogathon, Ill be sitting May out because I’m making that month Josephine Baker month (or at least Ill try, Clara Louise or Joan might wheedle their way in there) in honor of Josephine Baker day on May 20th. More importantly, I JUST COLORIZED RAMON LIKE 2 DAYS AGO (clearly we have a telepathic link when it comes to blogging)! And I really wanted to do a post on him but couldn't think of why until now! Thank you Page. As always, Brilliant work!

  6. Venus,
    We are on the same wavelength since I thought about you when writing this one! Ramon was delightful and I've adored him since I was a teenager after seeing The Son-Daughter the first time.

    No worries on the Blogathon. I can't wait to see your Josephine Baker photos. I know they will be FABULOUS!

    Thanks for the very sweet comments.

  7. Talented, handsome and with an appealing personality - Ramon Navarro and the movies were made for each other.

    A favourite sitcom moment: Alice Ghostley guested on "Car 54, Where Are You? as "pretty Bonnie Calsheim", the object of matchmaking friends. None of the matches ever worked out because she had been ruined by Ramon Navarro. How could any real life man hope to measure up to the screen idol?

  8. Page, that was an absolutely fabulous write-up of an actor I didn't know a whole lot about. And how beautifully illustrated. What a treat it was to read this.

    If you ever get the chance to see one of the creepiest things you'll ever see, I recommend the "Thriller" episode titled "La Strega" starring Ursula Andress, Alejandro Rey, Jeanette Nolan, Frank DeKova, and yes, Ramon Navarro. Directed by Ida Lupino, its spine-tingling in the best sense.

    While I think his version of "Ben-Hur" is fabulous, and a good introduction to someone who may be skittish about silent films, I still need to give the edge to the 1959 version. The silent seems to me more of a Classics Illustrated version of the story, while the latter has much more characterizaton and depth.

    But I 100% agree with you about Garbo.

  9. Patricia,
    Thats a funny story regarding Car 54! It's interesting that Novarro is my favorite silent actor then Cary Grant is my favorite comedic actor! Neither one having a preference for women when it came down to it even though their on screen unions left you all starry eyed and feeling their characters were the perfect fit for you. LOL

    I'm glad you enjoyed this write up!

    As far as Garbo goes, I re-watched "Grand Hotel" for the zillionth time recently and I found myself sitting there shaking my head at just how awful Garbo was in the over emoting!

    She never did transition well from acting in silents to me. All of the step, robotic turn, stop, take a hard step, slow hand up to the face, speak slowly....Everything was so over exaggerated. I wanted to yell, "walk, and turn normally then use your voice even if we can't understand you!" Ha Ha

    I appreciate your nice comments and appreciation for this post. Novarro is worth remembering

  10. Kevin,
    I forgot to add that Becky told me about that "Thriller" episode last week and I finally got the chance to see it! FANTASTIC! What a great find.

  11. Wonderful post as always, Page. I have a biography of Ramon on my shelf that I haven't read yet but need to. And I will second how you feel about "The Student Prince." I love that film and want everyone to see it!

  12. Cfb,
    I haven't had the good fortune of finding Novarro's biography but I would love to read it. You'll have to let me know how it is whenever you get to it.

    Perhaps this post will create some Novarro fans or at least a few people who will give his films a chance instead of skipping them when they air (which isn't too often unfortunately.)
    Thanks for the nice comments.

    1. I just recently saw a movie of his for the first time: The Student Prince..." I also fell in love with him. Thanks for writing this piece--I really enjoyed learning more about him.

  13. I believe that Ramon was a distant cousin.

    A good-looking man.

    A really good-looking blogpost.


  14. Hi Husky,
    I'm glad you enjoyed this post on Ramon and hopefully you'll stop back by on occasion. We'd loved to hear any personal stories or info you might be interested in sharing with all of us Novarro fans.

  15. Page, I deserve a smack up the side of the head for being so tardy reading your really wonderful review of Ramon's life and work. Beautiful pictures, especially the one with Ramon in uniform for The Flying Fleet! I'm a sucker for a uniform...

    I have the silent Ben-Hur in my movie collection. I love it! The chariot race was incredible considering the era, and Ramon was so good. I always have to smile a little over Francis X. Bushman -- that helmet! It is cool, but that same type of helmet is always used on statues of Hermes, the mythological messenger to the Greek gods. I've never seen Son-Daughter, and sure would like to.

    Isnt' it funny that Kevin knew about La Strega too, after you and I had talked about it? Nothing like a classic movie fan for sniffing out our favorite actors in the strangest places!

    It always makes me very sad to know that so many movies have been lost forever. I don't know if the numbers are correct, but I read that almost 50% of movies made before 1950 are lost to us. Such a shame.

    Loved your tribute to Ramon and finding out things about him I never knew. Great job! And if makes you feel any better, I always thought Greta Garbo was highly overrated. Now we can fight off her rabid fans together!

  16. This is such a great post! I included it in 'Classic Film Link Love" over at Ramon was one of Vivien Leigh's favorite actors. :)

  17. Becky,
    I know you've been busy so don't even worry about getting to this long post. Thanks for your nice comments. I'm glad to see so many fans coming out to discuss Novarro and his body of work.

    It really is heartbreaking that we will never get the opportunity to see so many great films. I admire any and all institutions who dedicate tireless hours and funds to restoration and safe keeping of our cinematic treasures.

    Bushman's helmet always makes me giggle too. It just looks so odd on his giant head that it might as well light up. I expect the wings to start moving back and forth to repel him forward during his chariot race.

    Garbo made the right decision in retiring early! I've always wondered how her legacy might have changed if she had needed to work and ended up in some stinkers like so many great actresses after her. Seeing her in Baby Jane or Hush Hush would have been snark worthy indeed.

    I left you a comment over on your site but thanks for including me in your Links. Vivien had great taste in husbands and actors it seems.
    I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

  18. Hi Page!

    I was inspired by your entry to write this week's Silent Stanzas poem about Ramon. ^_^ I linked to your post at the bottom. I also borrowed a photo - I hope you don't mind!

    Jen / Avalon76

  19. Well done, and well-deserved praise for Page's wonderful article about Ramon, Jen!

  20. Jen,
    Thanks for the compliment! I certainly don't mind fellow bloggers borrowing photos. They've always asked first then given credit under the photo.

  21. Wow! I really like this blog. I'm Mexican and this is nice place to see about my compatriots. Thanks and I hope to see articles on Dolores Del Río and Katy Jurado. Well, see you and greetings from Mexico City ! :)

    1. Tonatuh,
      I will be doing a Dolores Del Rio and Lupe Velez bio this summer so stay tuned. There is also a Ricardo Cortez bio in my archives you might enjoy.
      Thanks so much for stopping by, for your kind comments and please return often, join in on any of our discussions.

  22. Thanks for that cute little 5 minute clip from "Singapore" in your blog. Damn I wish I was Joan Crawford giving Ramon that look and that kiss! Simon

  23. Thank you for this wonderful blog on the late actor Ramon Navarro. What a handsome and talented man he was. I have become interested in him as of late and have been searching for a picture of him later in life near the time of his untimely and brutal death but have been unsuccessful. Is it possible you might be able to post one?
    Again thank you for this beautiful blog on a most beautiful person. Rest in peace Mr. Navarro.

  24. James: I have purchased several photographs of Ramon Novarro from his early career on through. One is especially a favorite of mine which he dedicated and signed (around 1927). I saw somephotos of him later in life (as you expressed your interest) which are for sale on e-bay. Just write in "photos of Ramon Novarro" and scroll down till you find the one you like. Good luck!!
    I just discovered this blog some days ago and it is BEAUTIFUL!! Thanks for thje wonderful blog of such a great actor and beautiful man who was not only handsome but a spiritual soul as well. Simon

    1. Thank you for the tip. I'll give it a try. Thanks Simon!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. You are welcome, James. I just purchased a photograph of Ramon Novarro when he was making "Road to Romance" and he is absolutely beautiful as a pirate. Just purchased a 1920's house and that photo is going right over the mantlepiece of my bedroom fireplace. Let me know if you find the pic you are searching for. Simon

    1. Simon thank you so much for the tip. I was finally able to locate a few pictures of Mr. Novarro from the 1960's. I also ordered a couple of studio prints.
      I have admired Mr. Novarro for years but OUT magazine just had a article about his cruel murder by the monstrous Ferguson brothers and it rekindled my interest in him.
      I dislike the fact that his murder at times overshadows his illustrious career. He deserves respect for his contribution to the cinematic world.
      Again thank you and also big thanks to ,Page for this wonderful blog.

    2. James: Happy to help out! I topo read the article in OUT magazine and was disappointed because it was emphasizing the two brothers...I had thought it would give new insights into Ramon's life at the time.
      There is a book I discovered ("Bloody Wednesday"...I think) but have not puirchased yet.
      THANK YOU Page for offering us this blog!!! My sincere thanks! Simon

    3. Simon there is also another book about Mr. Novarro titled "Beyond Paradise". The author is Andre Soares. I agree with you about the OUT magazine article. I would have rather read about Ramon's life and not about the lowlifes who murdered him.
      Good luck finding "Bloody Wednesday". It is difficult to find and overpriced when you can find it.

    4. Simon, Jason,
      I've enjoyed your conversations on the wonderful Ramon Novarro. If you'd like you can both email me if you would like me to pass on your contact info privately so you can discuss things that way or you can continue to discuss my boyfriend Ramon, right here! : )

      I'm so pleased you enjoyed this article and stay tuned for a post on his gorgeous art deco Hollywood home as well as other silent star bios.

  26. Thanks Page for the contact offer. Simon and I have been carrying on here for a few days now. I will be checking back for the article on his Hollywood home. I would like to think Mr.Novarro would be very pleased if he could see this wonderful tribute and forum you made in his honor.

  27. James, Page: Thanks for your thoughts. I have "Beyond Paradise". Just bought it second hand. I wonder if the title is a reference to the "garden of eden" as they called their cozy home? Yes, I would very much like to email James if James is up to do I send you my email, Page?
    Really looking forward to the article on Ramon's classic Hollywood home!!
    But really, Page....I must let you know that Ramon Novarro is MY boyfriend! Hahaha. Yes, "Bloody Wednesday" is pricey but will buy it eventually if I see it. Have a great day, friends! Simon

    1. Simon,
      Are you enjoying my Hollywood at Home series? So far I've featured Rudolph Valentino's Falcon Lair then most recently Pickfair. There are so many on my list to do.

      The only bio on Novarro that I've read is the most recent one via Kindle. I'm so behind on reading bios with at least 10 new ones sitting on my Kindle then at least 40 sitting around on shelves. Just finished the newest Olivier bio and Hedy Lamarr's.

      You both can email me at The addy is also in my blog profile. If you would like to see a some of my collection, how it's displayed on my walls etc there are a few pics in my first post here titled And So We Begin.

  28. Page: Thanks so much! I will email you later todaywithy my addy for James as I am already late for an appt. Thank you so much for this blog and for writing. I am eccentric about the Kindle (my 80 year old Mom isn't...LOL) because I prefer to hold an actual book and am very found (and attached to my library. Which Novarro bio is on Kindle? )Will check out your Hollywood at home series. Bestest. Simon

  29. Page: how do I go to "and so we begin" ? Simon I wanna see the pics!

    1. Go to my blog archives on the right sidebar then 2010 October and it's my very first post.
      Have a great weekend guys!

  30. Quelle dreamy post!

    we linked to your page from our post this morning - is that ok? *looksnervouslytocamera*

  31. I saw Ramon Novarro last night in THE PAGAN on Turner Classic Movies. What a gorgeous man he was, and what a sweet personality came across in the film. I enjoyed this blog tribute to him. :)

  32. Thanks so much for your wonderful retrospective of this fine actor's career.

  33. His life was not in vain. He now lives in Paradise. Joe Sinisi

  34. I just discovered Ramon Novarro on TCM in The Pagan. I am a new fan! I ordered his bio "Beyond Paradise". Thanks for a wonderful tribute.