As he had befriended the stars of Broadway, the Follies and Tin Pan Alley, Odd was also quick to support those who captured the nation’s attention on the big screen. His close friend Rudolph Valentino was one of the most popular actors of the early twentieth century, and the first male sex symbol to rise to the status of icon.
Odd appreciated Valentino’s sense of humor, but what most impressed him about his friend was the fact that he remained so humble despite his great fame. One evening, Odd and Maybelle arrived at the Ritz-Carlton with Valentino and his wife Natacha Rambova. As they stood talking in front of their car, a crowd began gathering to get a glimpse of the superstar. As the crowd grew larger and noisier, Valentino leaned in and said to Odd, “I think something must have happened at your hotel.”
Valentino said to me, ‘It sometimes worries me that you might think that, because I invite you to the first showings of my films with me, I am seeking a little publicity through the things you write. It would please me if you would never mention me in any of your articles. I would like to think our friendship transcends that.
O. O. McIntyre
After Valentino’s death, Odd wrote that Valentino came to him many times “perplexed, harassed, and soul-spent—but never defeated.” He added, “His courage was boundless.”
Valentino’s open casket was on display for the public to pass by and pay their respects. More than 90,000 people passed his silver and bronze casket throughout a rainy day and until late that night. When his manager, George Ulman, walked outside among the fans waiting in the drizzle, he noticed many of them joking and laughing, not at all mourning his friend’s death. After observing this “sordid, disgusting, irreverent…sorry spectacle, a sort of vulgar circus affair to which the public showing had been reduced,” he had the doors to the funeral home shut and ended the viewing permanently. A few hours later, the hundreds that still waited became angry, and the crowd continued swelling. At ten minutes before midnight, the police began trying to drive away the crowd to avoid a riot. A group of about a hundred broke through the police barricades and actually made it into the building. Fortunately, Valentino’s coffin had already been removed.
The last conversation Odd had with Valentino before his death had taken place in Paris, just a few months earlier. As the sun set, the two friends sat on a bench watching the Eiffel Tower in the distance and catching up on details of life that only good friends find interesting. Later, they walked to the Arc de Triomphe. Odd’s last memory of Valentino after the two said good-bye was of watching him “swing down the Avenue des Champs-Elysées with his head held high.”
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