When Vladek was a young man, he looked like Rudolph Valentino. Who was Rudolph Valentino?

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Rudolph Valentino was a very popular movie star of the silent era. Originally from Italy, he emigrated to the United States in search of fame and fortune and, like many immigrants, did more than his fair share of menial jobs before he eventually found success. But when he hit the big time, after years of hard struggle, he became one of Hollywood's biggest stars. With his brooding good looks, Valentino earned the adoration of millions of female fans, who turned out in droves to watch his movies and bombarded him with love letters and fan mail.

Sadly, Valentino's success wasn't destined to last as he died of peritonitis at the tragically young age of thirty-one. His funeral was a media sensation, with news reporters from all over the world joining the massive throng of fans who turned up to pay their last respects. Some of Valentino's fans were so distraught at his tragic demise that they actually killed themselves.

We can see, then, why Vladek wanted to be like Valentino when he was younger. He always saw himself as a good-looking young specimen just like the great movie star. In fact, people would often comment on his close resemblance to the matinee idol. Though, as Vladek is actually a mouse, it's a little difficult to imagine his looking anything like Rudolph Valentino, or any another human being, for that matter.

However, Spiegelman helps to visualize this comparison by providing a film poster for The Sheik, one of Valentino's most famous films. And on that poster we see Valentino depicted as a mouse wearing the costume of an Arab sheik, holding his swooning lover (who is also a mouse) in his arms.

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