Rather than just recapping the most recent episode of AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL, each week we are going to break it down into the most interesting, weird, delightful, and mind-boggling bits… like these!
1. Rudolph Valentino
This week’s episode is steeped in old Hollywood history, and posits that silent screen legend Rudolph Valentino (and his second wife Natacha Rambova) was the Countess’ lover and sire. When it was first announced that Valentino died, there were reports it spawned suicides around the globe: two attempted suicides in New York, and successful suicides in London and Paris. So the Countess’ suicide attempt is very much in line with the fans of the time.
2. F.W. Murnau
An important German Expressionist director, Murnau’s best-known work is NOSFERATU, based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. AHS posits that Murnau became a vampire during his research in the Carpathian Mountains for Nosferatu. This isn’t the first time that Nosferatu has been imagined as having close ties to vampirism. The 2000 horror film SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE portrayed Max Schreck (who played Count Orlok in NOSFERATU) as a real-life vampire cast in the role of an on-screen vampire.
3. The Woman in Black
The Countess portrayed the legendary “Woman in Black,” who, in the show, visited Valentino’s tomb every day, in black veils, to leave a single red rose for her lover. There really was a “Woman in Black” who would visit Valentino’s tomb in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, and leave him a red rose. The real Woman in Black came far less frequently – usually on the anniversary of Valentino’s death. As it later turned out, the Woman in Black was a publicity stunt. It has since become a tradition, and continues to this day by film historian Karie Bible.
4. The Alexandria Hotel
This is a fascinating similarity that I think most people will miss. Rudolph Valentino, when he first moved to Los Angeles in 1917, lived at the Alexandria Hotel with an old friend, actor Norman Kelly. The Alexandria was a luxury hotel built in Downtown Los Angeles in 1906, and until the 1920s, it was the most luxurious hotel in all of Los Angeles. When the hotel was being built, a local businessman, William Chick, tore down his livery stables in an adjacent lot and went into business with the hotel’s developers. He built his own wing of the Alexandria, but to save on costs, did not include any stairs or elevators in his wing. The rooms were all easily accessible from the main hotel, and access would have been an added expense to building and would have taken away from rentable rooms. This would have all been fine, except the Alexandria closed in 1934, leaving Chick with an inaccessible block of rooms. Movie producer Phil Goldstone purchased the Alexandria and reopened it in 1938, which delighted Lee Roddie, Chick’s daughter and, by that point, the sole owner of the “phantom wing” of the hotel. Unfortunately, the relationship between Roddie and Goldstone quickly soured, and in a petulant fit, Goldstone bricked off the hallways to Roddie’s rooms on each floor. Other than the two ground floor retail shops, Roddie’s wing of the hotel was completely inaccessible for decades. A developer has been gentrifying the property since 2012.
5. Christine Estabrook
The veteran actress who was killed in tonight’s episode played the role of Marcy, a real estate agent. She is the one who sold this hotel to Will Drake. She was also the same real estate agent who sold the “Murder House” to the Harmon family in season one.