Natacha Rambova

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Winifred Kimball de Urzaiz (Shaughnessy)

Also Known As: "Natacha", "Rambova"
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States
Death: June 05, 1966 (69)
Pasadena, Los Angeles County, California, United States (heart attack)
Place of Burial: Fresno, Fresno County, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Michael Shaughnessy and Winifred Kimball
Ex-wife of Rudolph Valentino and Alvaro de Urzaiz

Occupation: silent film costume and set designer, artistic director, screenwriter, producer and occasional actress
Managed by: Leszek Mila
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Natacha Rambova

Wikipedia Biographical Summary:

"...Natacha Rambova (January 19, 1897 – June 5, 1966) was an American film costume and set designer, best known for her marriage to Rudolph Valentino. Although they shared many interests such as art, poetry and spiritualism, his colleagues felt that she exercised too much control over his work and blamed her for several expensive flops. In later life, she continued her spiritualist activities, as well as studying Egyptology.

Rambova was born Winifred Shaughnessy in Salt Lake City. Her father, Michael Shaughnessy, was an Irish Catholic who fought for the Union during the American Civil War and then worked in the mining industry. Her mother, Winifred Kimball, was a granddaughter of Mormon leader Heber C. Kimball.[1] Winifred (senior) was four times married, settling eventually on millionaire perfume mogul Richard Hudnut, and becoming a well-connected interior designer in San Francisco. Rambova was adopted by her stepfather, making her legal name Winifred Hudnut. A rebellious teenager, Rambova was sent to a strict British boarding-school, where she proved especially gifted at ballet.[2] Her family had encouraged her to study ballet purely as a social grace, and were appalled when she chose it as her career. But an aunt intervened and took her to New York, where she studied under the Russian ballet dancer and choreographer Theodore Kosloff in his Imperial Russian Ballet Company,[3] and adopted the name Natacha Rambova. Although too tall to be a classical ballerina, she was given leading parts by Kosloff, who soon became her lover. Rambova’s mother was outraged at this affair with a much-older married man, and tried to have Kosloff deported. But when Rambova fled abroad, her mother relented and agreed to her continuing to perform with the company.

When Kosloff was hired by Cecil B. DeMille as a performer and costume designer for Hollywood films, Rambova carried out much of the creative work as well as the historical research. Kosloff would then steal her sketches and claim credit for them as his own. Both professionally and personally, her partnership with Kosloff was tempestuous. He was a controlling and abusive man with many other lovers, who once shot her in the leg when she tried to leave him. When Kosloff started work for fellow-Russian film producer Alla Nazimova at Metro Pictures Corporation (later MGM), he sent Rambova to present some designs. Nazimova requested some alterations, and was most impressed when Rambova was able to make these changes immediately in her own hand. So she offered Rambova a position on her production staff as an art director and costume designer, enabling her to leave Kosloff at last.

Rambova's first film for Nazimova was Billions (1920), followed by Uncharted Seas (1921), on which she first met Rudolph Valentino, and the two of them worked together on Camille. Although Valentino was still married to American film actress Jean Acker, he and Rambova moved in together within a year, having formed a relationship based more on friendship and shared interests than on emotional or professional rapport. They then had to pretend to separate until Valentino’s divorce was final, and they married on May 13, 1922 in Mexicali, Mexico. But the law required a year to pass before remarriage, and Valentino was jailed for bigamy, having to be bailed out by friends. However, their honeymoon at her adopted father’s romantic mountain hideaway at Johnsburg, NY, was an experience they would both treasure.[4] They legally remarried on March 14, 1923.

From 1927 Rambova ran an elite couture shop on Fifth Avenue, until she met her second husband Alvaro de Urzaiz, a British-educated Spanish aristocrat on a trip to Europe in 1934, and they went to live on the island of Mallorca. In the Spanish Civil War, Urzaiz was on the pro-fascist nationalist side, becoming a naval commander. Rambova fled to Nice, where she suffered a heart attack at age 40. Soon after, she and Urzaiz divorced. Rambova remained in France until the Nazi invasion, when she returned to New York. Her interest in the metaphysical grew during the 1940s, and she supported the Bollingen Foundation, through which she believed she could see a past life in Egypt. She published articles on healing and astrology, and helped decipher ancient scarabs and tomb inscriptions, which led her to edit a series titled Egyptian Texts and Religious Representations. She also conducted classes in her apartment about myths, symbolism and comparative religion. In the mid-1960s she was struck with scleroderma, and became malnourished and delusional as a result. A cousin brought her to Pasadena, California where she died of a heart attack on June 5, 1966 at the age of 69. Her ashes were scattered in Arizona.


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Natacha Rambova's Timeline

January 19, 1897
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States
June 22, 1897
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States
June 5, 1966
Age 69
Pasadena, Los Angeles County, California, United States
June 5, 1966
Age 69
Fresno, Fresno County, California, United States