The Unexplained: Did a cursed ring seal their destinies?
January 16, 2021
What was the secret behind a precious tiger’s eye ring known as the Destiny Ring? Those who wore it, including Rudolph Valentino, mysteriously died.
As happens so often, I was reading about one mystery when I chanced upon another, more intriguing mystery at the time, and was swept away to the Hollywood of a bygone era.
Rudolph Valentino: Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaelio Pierre Filiberto Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguella was born in 1895 in the Apulia Kingdom of Italy. He came to America in 1913 but retained his Italian citizenship because of failure to file paperwork.
After some stints doing odd jobs and taxi dance work in New York, he found his way to the west coast with a traveling musical troupe. He left a small trail of romantic scandals behind him. He had great success in silent movies because of his looks and charisma. He was often billed as the Latin Lover.
On a side jaunt to San Francisco, he found his way into a shop that sold exotic do-dads and jewelry. Perhaps they were items liquidated by descending millionaires or items gleaned from posh estate sales. Valentino’s eyes drifted over the dazzling merchandise. Then he saw it, the ring. “May I try it on?” It fit well enough and he admired the masculine aura it lent to his hand. The ring had an amazing semi-precious tiger’s eye stone in a silver mounting. “I must have it.”
“I would not recommend that you buy it, sir. It has a bad history. It is called the Destiny Ring. I only put it out to make my ring display look more pleasing to the eye—the ring is cursed!”
Rudolph Valentino would not be dissuaded. He peeled off some bills, plus an extra one. The shop owner took the money but continued to shake his head sadly as he did. Valentino whirled around dramatically, as only he could, and exited through the door.
He liked the feel of the ring and became accustomed to wearing it at all times. Lo and behold, his next movies were flops. He died suddenly in 1926 after a surgical procedure for bleeding ulcers—a massive infection, peritonitis. He was only 31 years old. Women’s hearts everywhere were broken. He was wearing the ring when he died.
What happened to the ring after Valentino’s eerie death? No, it was not entombed with him. His lady love, Pola Negri, was able to obtain the ring from the estate without too much trouble.
Negri, also an actor had been often billed as a vamp. She was grief-stricken over Valentino, but grief was not the only thing she was experiencing. She was ill. She was so ill that she could no longer perform and her acting career was no more.
A young singer had expressed fascination with the ring. In a weak moment, Pola Negri passed the ring on to this singer, Russ Colombo—he was so like Valentino, her love, that she felt he should have it. Colombo was in a fatal shooting accident not long after the ring was passed down to him.
Somehow Colombo’s good friend, Joe Casino got possession of the ring. Perhaps he was superstitious, so he kept the ring displayed under glass. It seemed to him that vibes coming off the ring demanded that he wear it. Wear it he did, and he was in a fatal accident with a truck a week later. His brother Del, inherited it, along with some of his other things. Del was a little spooked so he kept the beautiful ring locked in a safe.
It is too bad that a man named James Willis decided to break into the house and into the safe—when he saw the ring in there he decided to take that too. The police arrived because they heard an alarm go off and when they saw the intruder they shot him—dead. The ring was found in the dead man’s pocket. It was retrieved and put back in Del’s safe.
A movie director decided to make a film about Valentino and hired a young actor to play the part—Jack Dunn. The director, Edward Small got the use of the ring from Dell for the actor to wear in the movie. Sure enough, Jack Dunn wore the ring for the shoots, and sure enough, within two weeks, Dunn was dead of a mysterious blood disease.
Who is wearing the ring now? No one, we think. It is supposed to be in a vault in a Los Angeles bank. The bank has undergone fires and robbery attempts. One tale relates that at least one of the robbers over the years was shot dead by police. There is an equally shocking tale that the ring has been stolen once again.
Many have seen the ghost of Rudolph Valentino near his Hollywood Forever Cemetery crypt. Is he looking for his ring? In an odd parallelism, Valentino’s beloved dog, Kabar, is said to haunt the nearby pet cemetery in Calabasas.
There was a portrait done of Valentino and Negri by Fredrico Beltran Masses. Pola is displaying the ring on her hand. The painting was auctioned in 2017. There have been no odd reports about the painting. SMH
Sara Marie Hogg is the author of Curious, Indeed, a collection of true stories about the unexplained. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.