Rambo va va voom

Natacha Rambova (1897 – 1966) was an American costume and set designer, artistic director, screenwriter, producer and occasional actress. Later in life she worked as a fashion designer and Egyptologist.

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Her mother Winifred Kimball, was married four times, eventually settling on millionaire perfume mogul Richard Hudnut. Rambova was adopted by her stepfather, making her legal name Winifred Hudnut.

Richard Hudnut advertising found here

Rambova was a rebellious teenager. She was sent home from a boarding school for “conduct unbecoming of a lady“. At the age of 17 she fell for 32 year old Theodore Kosloff (who already had a wife and daughter in Europe) and the pair began a tumultuous but short lived love affair. While Kosloff was away on a hunting trip, Rambova packed her bags and called a taxi. However Kosloff returned unexpectedly and caught her leaving; angered, he shot her in the leg. She managed to escape and never reported the matter to the police.

Theodore Kosloff found here

Shortly after this, she started working for Alla Nazimova who employed her as an art director and costume designer. It was on the set of one of Nazimova’s films that Natacha met Rudolph Valentino. They moved in together and devised a plan to sell Valentino’s autograph for 25 cents. This venture kept them afloat between paychecks.

Valentino found here

Natacha took photos of Valentino for a magazine called Shadowland that featured art and dancer photos. The pair were forced to separate (or at least pretend to) as the divorce proceedings for Valentino’s marriage to Jean Acker began. Once the divorce was final, they married on May 13, 1922 in Mexico. However, the law at the time required a year to pass before remarriage and Valentino was jailed as a bigamist. The scandal seriously hurt both their careers.

Jean Acker found here

They worked together on several films, most of which failed to make money at the box office. Natacha specialized in “exotic” effects in both costume and stage design. For costumes she favored bright colors, baubles, bangles, shimmering fabrics and feathers. She also used the effect of sparkle on half nude bodies slathered in paint.

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After her divorce from Valentino, Rambova opened an elite couture shop on Fifth Avenue in 1927. Later she closed the shop and moved to France after meeting her second husband in 1934. Following her second divorce she developed an interest in the metaphysical and published various articles on healing and astrology.

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Natacha believed in reincarnation and psychic powers. Later in life she became an Egyptologist and a follower of Madame Blavatsky, visiting psychics, partaking in séances and automatic writing. In the mid 1960s she was struck with scleroderma, and became malnourished and delusional as a result. She died of a heart attack in 1966 at the age of 69. Her Egyptian antiquities were donated to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and she willed a huge collection of Nepali and Lamaistic art to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Natacha was portrayed by Yvette Mimieux in The Legend of Valentino (1975), and by Michelle Phillips in Ken Russell’s feature film Valentino (1977).

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Published in: on January 2, 2012 at 9:14 pm  Comments (47)  
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was there hanky panky at Hanko?

In Norway in 1934, Mrs Ingeborg Koeber was accused of drowning her father Judge Dahl at Hanko Beach. Several months prior to this impromptu dip, Ingeborg had predicted the manner of her father’s death while supposedly in a sleeping trance.

Ingeborg

She reportedly heard him call for help and swam out to rescue him, bringing him to shore where he died in her arms. At the inquest, his deputy, Christian Apenes, told the coroner that in December 1933, he attended a Spiritualist séance with Judge Dahl. The medium was Ingeborg Koeber, who communicated a message allegedly from her dead brother, Regnar Dahl whilst in a sleeping trance. The message was that their father would die within a year, but that Apenes must not tell anyone this, including Ingeborg, who would not remember the message when she came out of the trance. The spirit also stated that the same message would be communicated to another medium, a Mrs. Stolt-Nielsen, who was to place it in a sealed envelope.

Judge Dahl

After Judge Dahl’s death, Apenes asked Stolt-Nielsen if she had received the message, and she produced the sealed envelope. Opened in the presence of witnesses, it contained the message, “In August 1934 Ludwig Dahl shall lose his life in an accident.” When these prophecies were revealed by the press, there was considerable scandal and controversy. Some people thought the mayor might have committed suicide under sub-conscious suggestion, others that his daughter had drowned him before bringing him back to shore. It was even suggested that Christian Apenes had hypnotized her and suggested that she murder her father.

The investigation lasted three years, during which it was revealed that the judge’s life insurance policy had expired on the day of his death. The court ultimately found that Judge Dahl’s death was accidental, but the his wife, who had suffered great strain, committed suicide before her daughter’s name was cleared.

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According to Arthur C Clarke’s World of Strange Powers, the Judge had been a passionate believer in his daughter’s powers and wrote five books on the subject. Much of the family’s money had been spent on supporting and promoting Ingeborg’s strange powers and her mother had gone so far as to purloin funds from her work as a community treasurer. As she later wrote in her suicide note “My husband felt it was his life’s work to bring Ingeborg’s message to mankind. In doing so he took a great and unselfish task on his shoulders. But he was quite innocent of the demands of daily living and did not realise that our family economy was threatened.”

It was predicted that Ingeborg father’s death, and the sum of his insurance was identical with the sum which his wife had misappropriated from her office.

In researching this sad story I’ve had to rely a lot upon translations. In the interests of giving my readers a lighter postscript, here’s an example of what I found:

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Much muffins:

In Købersaken that ended in the courts were dug up a lot of muffins. The autopsy of Louis Dahl showed a flaw in the neck, initially downplayed, it was fully focused on. Ingeborg had killed his father, conscious? But why should she? She adored the father even though he was also a dominant hustyrann.

Købersaken would also eventually be about money. Recorder’s wife who worked in his office had in fact helped themselves of the box. The amount proved to be the same as the life policy they got paid. Lay the motives here?

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Published in: on November 21, 2010 at 9:23 am  Comments (38)  
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