Rudolph Valentino: The Italian Americans

Rudolph Valentino was the first Italian American film star. However, Valentino’s success did not come easily. There were not many film roles for an Italian immigrant that looked like him. This short excerpt follows Valentino’s brief career and raises important questions about the role of the media and representation for immigrants


Below are posters for a selection of Valentino’s films.



Reflection Questions

Engaging the Film and the posters:

  1. What is at stake in Valentino’s story?
  2. How were Valentino’s opportunities shaped by his identity as an Italian immigrant? To what extent might his identity been a benefits? How might it have limited the roles he was able to play?


Beyond the Film:

  1. What is the significance of Valentino’s story? Use the three whys routine to tease out the importance of the stories for yourselves, your community, and the larger world.
  2. Why do you think representation in media matters? How does it shape the way people think and act?
  3. Are there groups that you feel are under-represented in media today? If they were more visible, how do you think that would impact you, your community, and the larger world?