Rudolph Valentino was a neighbor of HJ and Gigi Whitley. They all lived in Whitley Heights and would often run into each other on walks. Grace Whitley enjoyed taking dancing lessons from Valentino. One of Valentinp's most popular romantic movies starred the controversial Italian actor in a new sexy way. A sex symbol at the time, Valentino was typified by his alternative look. He was the complete opposite of the macho masculinity expected of American men at the time and was rejected by American men, who were also jealous of his popularity with women.
A hit with women, Valentino played exotic parts of men in power, like Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan in The Sheik. The conventional plot follows a headstrong independent woman who falls in love with a traditional man who denies his attraction to her wildness. A typical romantic film, The Sheik (and Valentino), however, revealed a longing by American women to be seen by society.