Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ramon Novarro

I'm not one to collect autographed pictures of actors, but I was scrolling through EBay, 99cents, free shipping, click and it was mine.

So, who was Ramon Novarro? He was born Jose Ramon Gil Samaniego, in 1899, the son of a successful Mexican dentist. In 1916, fleeing the Mexican revolution, Ramon and his family ended up in Los Angeles. A year latter, in 1917, Ramon was earning money as a dancer, singing waiter, piano teacher, and movie extra. For five years he struggled in his career, the occasional small part, but mostly background. And then he was cast as the lead in The Prisoner of Zenda. Three years latter, in 1925, now renamed Ramon Novarro, he had the biggest success of his career. The lead in Ben Hur: A Tale of Christ. His film career continued into the sound era, getting the romantic lead opposite Greta Garbo in Mata Hari, in 1931. That was it, the peak. After that, it was a slow slide into smaller and smaller parts. Eventually his work was mostly in episodic television.

In 1968, Ramon Novarro, a gay man who often picked up street hustlers. was murdered in his North Hollywood home by two of those hustlers, who thought that, because he had once been a movie star, he must be rich.

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