Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Valentino Wife & Actress Jean Acker 1978 Holy Cross Cemetery

Jean Acker (October 23, 1893 – August 16, 1978) was an American film actress with a career dating from the silent film era through the 1950s. She was perhaps best known as the estranged wife of silent film star Rudolph Valentino.

Early life and career

Acker was born Harriet “Hattie” Ackers on October 23, 1893 in Trenton, New Jersey. Her father was Joseph Ackers, said to be of Cherokee descent. Her mother Margaret (unconfirmed) was Irish. In the 1900 census, Hattie is with Joseph and her grandparents, but no wife of Joseph is listed. In fact, he is reported to be single. Growing up on a farm, she became an expert horsewoman. She attended the St. Mary’s Seminary in Springfield, New Jersey, for a time. Sometime prior to 1907, the family moved to Lewistown, Pennsylvania. In the 1907 Lewistown Directory, Joseph is listed with a wife by the name of Eleanor. When he married Eleanor is not yet known, but it was after 1900 and before the family moved to Lewistown. They were divorced in 1912. Six years later, Joseph married Virginia Erb in Lewistown. He managed the Casino Bowling Alley and The Ritz restaurant, and later owned the Boston Shoe Store on Valley Street. He also managed several bowling alleys in the Philadelphia area, and it may have been that during these visits Jean was “bitten by the acting bug.” She performed in vaudeville until she moved to California in 1919.[1] 

After arriving in Hollywood, Acker became the protegee and lover of Alla Nazimova, a film actress whose clout and contacts enabled Acker to negotiate a $200 per week contract with a movie studio. Acker appeared in numerous films during the 1910s and 1920s, but by the early 1930s she began appearing in small, mostly uncredited film roles. She made her last on-screen appearance in the 1955 film How to Be Very, Very Popular, opposite Betty Grable.

Marriage to Valentino

After meeting and befriending the then-struggling actor Rudolph Valentino at a party, they entered a two-month courtship and married on November 6, 1919. Acker quickly had regrets and locked him out of their hotel bedroom on their wedding night.[2][3] The marriage was reportedly never consummated.[4]

After filing for divorce, Valentino did not wait the requisite period for it to be finalized before marrying his second wife, Natacha Rambova, in Mexico, and he was charged with bigamy when the couple returned to the United States.[5] Acker then sued Valentino for the legal right to call herself "Mrs. Rudolph Valentino." Valentino remained angry with her for several years, but they mended their friendship before his death in 1926. Acker wrote a popular song about him soon after he died called "We Will Meet at the End of the Trail."[6][7]

Acker had an affair with the actress Alla Nazimova. Nazimova included Acker in what was dubbed the "Sewing circles," a group of actresses who were forced to conceal the fact that they were lesbian or bisexual, thus living secret lives.[8] Another of her female lovers was Grace Darmond, with whom she was involved during her relationship with Valentino.

In the 1977 film Valentino a character loosely based on Acker is played by Carol Kane (In the credits, the character is simply called "Starlet.")


After divorcing Valentino in 1923, Acker was engaged to Marquis Luis de Bezan y Sandoval of Spain.[9] Then, she was in the news over her relationship with Rahmin Bey.[10] In 1930, after she lost her fortune in the 1929 stock market crash, she sued William Delahanty, claiming that he agreed to pay her $18,400 a year if she gave up her film career. The married politician denied that he made such a promise but admitted that he spent thousands of dollars on Acker.[11] 

Acker met Chloe Carter, a former Ziegfeld Follies girl, who was the first wife of film composer Harry Ruby.[12] Acker would remain with Carter for the rest of her life. The couple owned an apartment building together in Beverly Hills.[13] Acker died of natural causes in 1978 at the age of 84,[14] and is buried next to Carter in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.[15]


Though not born in the Central Pennsylvania town of Lewistown, Jean Acker is considered a local celebrity. Her face dominates an outdoor mural titled "Mifflin County Movie History" and is located on Monument Square in Downtown Lewistown. The mural was painted in 2012 by Dwight Kirkland of Blackleaf Studio, Mifflintown, PA.

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Notes

1913 The Man Outside Helen Lattimore 

1913 In a Woman's Power 

1913 Bob's Baby Bob's Cousin 
1913 The Daredevil Mountaineer 
1914 The $5,000,000 Counterfeiting Plot Helen Long 
1915 Are You a Mason? Alternative title: The Joiner 
1919 Never Say Quit Vamp 1919 Lombardi, Ltd. Daisy 
1920 An Arabian Knight Elinor Wayne 
1920 The Round-Up Polly Hope 
1921 Brewster's Millions Barbara Drew 
1921 Wealth Estelle Rolland 
1922 Her Own Money Ruth Alden 
1923 The Woman in Chains Felicia Coudret Credited as Mrs. Rudolph Valentino 
1925 Braveheart Sky-Arrow 
1927 The Nest Belle Madison 
1933 No Marriage Ties Adrienne's Maid Uncredited 
1934 Miss Fane's Baby Is Stolen Friend of Miss Fane Uncredited 
1935 No More Ladies Nightclub Extra Uncredited 
1936 San Francisco 
1937 Vogues of 1938 Extra Uncredited 
1939 Good Girls Go to Paris Bit Part Uncredited 
1940 My Favorite Wife Postponed case witness Uncredited 
1942 Obliging Young Lady Cousin Uncredited 
1944 The Thin Man Goes Home Tart Uncredited
1945 Spellbound Matron Uncredited 
1946 It's a Wonderful Life Townswoman Uncredited 
1947 The Peril of Pauline Switchboard operator Uncredited 
1948 Isn't It Romantic? Townswoman Uncredited 
1951 The Mating Season Party guest Uncredited 
1952 Something to Live For Wife Uncredited 
1955 How to Be Very, Very Popular Undetermined Supporting Role Uncredited


1. Leider, Emily W. Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino. New York City, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2003. ISBN 0-374-28239-0. p. 100. 
2. "Jean Acker of Metro Weds". Motion Picture News. 1919. p. 3774. 
3. Donnelley, Paul (2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 935. ISBN 1-84449-430-6. 
4. Donnelley, Paul (2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 7. ISBN 1-84449-430-6. 
5. Madsen, Axel (2002). The Sewing Circle: Sappho's Leading Ladies. Kensington Books. p. 103. ISBN 0-7582-0101-X. 
6. Newman, Ben-Allah (2004). Rudolph Valentino His Romantic Life and Death: His Romantic Life and Death. Kessinger Publishing. p. 50. ISBN 1-4179-1464-5. 
7. Briggs, Joe Bob (2005). Profoundly Erotic: Sexy Movies that Changed History. Universe. p. 30. ISBN 0-7893-1314-6. 
8. Jean Acker at Find a Grave 
9. "The Evening News - Google News Archive Search". 
10. "The Deseret News - Google News Archive Search".  
11. "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search". 
12. "Rochester Evening Journal - Google News Archive Search". 
13. Shearer, Stephen Michael (2006). Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life. University Press of Kentucky. p. 391. ISBN 0-8131-2391-7. 
14. Donnelley, Paul (2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 8. ISBN 1-84449-430-6. 
15. Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Location 325). McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What an amazing legacy she lived! May they rest together in peace.