Novarro, Ramon (1899 – 1968)
Mexican – born American actor hailed as the Latin Lover.
Vintage signature on the reverse of a gentleman’s calling card, accompanied by an original art pencil drawing of Novarro by Miki Gross.
Novarro was a hugely successful star of silent films (Scaramouche, Ben Hur among others). He also made numerous sound films such as We Were Strangers and Mata Hari. At the peak of his career in the 1920s and 30s, Novarro was earning $100,000 per firm. Although later successes were few and far between, he invested wisely in real estate which enabled him to lead a comfortable, albeit, semi – private life with occasional film roles.
Although a lifelong, devout Catholic, Novarro led a tortured double – life as a closeted gay man fearing the loss of celebrity status and work should his sexually be made public. Louis B. Mayer tried, unsuccessfully, to encourage Novarro into a lavendar marriage which he steadfastly resisted. He paid the ultimate price when, after inviting two young men into his home, an extortion attempt turned into a brutal murder. The two brothers, Tom and Paul Ferguson, believed wrongly that Novarro had a large sum of money in his home.
The prosecution accused the boys of torturing Novarro for several hours to force him to reveal where the non-existant cash horde was hidden. The brothers left with a mere $20 they took from his bathrobe pcket before fleeing the scene.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Miki Gross is an Orlando – based artist who has enjoyed a successful fashion and art – illustration career for over 40 years. She has worked with major retail stores in Seattle, Honolulu, Vienna and elsewhere. Her illustration art has also appeared in national magazines and newspapers. Primarily working in pen and ink and colored pencil, Ms. Gross has an exceptional eye and talent as evidenced by the Novarro portrait. This is an ORIGINAL, one – of – a – kind display piece, not a second or third – generation print. A splendid work of art and terrific memento of a Hollywood great.