Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Strong, Silent Type: Rediscovering the Life of Ramon Novarro, Star of Silent Films and of Gay Hollywood

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Strong, Silent Type: Rediscovering the Life of Ramon Novarro, Star of Silent Films and of Gay Hollywood

Article excerpt

Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro * Andre Soares * St. Martin's Press * $27.95

One of the Latin-American movie stars, Ramon Novarro is best known for his lead in the 1925 silent classic Ben-Hur, for his role opposite Greta Garbo in Mata Hari six years later, and for his murder by male hustlers in 1968. After five years as an extra in crowd scenes, Novarro got his break in Rex Ingram's 1922 Metro Pictures production of The Prisoner of Zenda. This began his early crucial partnership with Ingram, who had directed Rudolph Valentino in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Less temperamental than Valentino and far less compelling onscreen, Novarro was nevertheless billed as his successor in the new "Latin lover" type. He rose to fame while his rival was simmering on the sidelines and engaged in a lengthy contractual dispute with his studio.

Novarro's naturalistic acting style and strong voice helped ease his transition to sound films. But his talents couldn't make up for his haphazard choice of roles or his curious lack of chemistry with his female costars. Although he would appear in character roles for years to come, Novarro was released from his MGM contract in 1935. …

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