Cover image for Beyond paradise : the life of Ramon Novarro
Beyond paradise : the life of Ramon Novarro
Soares, André.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiv, 400 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN2287.N6 S66 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Ramon Novarro was for years one of the top lead actors in Hollywood - the first Latin-American performer to become a Hollywood superstar. Born Ramón Samaniego to a prominent Mexican family, Novarro arrived in Hollywood in 1916 as a refugee from the civil wars that rocked Mexico in the early 20th century. By the mid-1920s, he had become one of MGM's most important leading men, going on to star in a series of now classic films including The Student Prince, Mata Hari, and the original version of Ben-Hur. He shared the screen with the era's most important leading ladies such as Greta Garbo, Myrna Loy, Joan Crawford, and Norma Shearer and become Rudolph Valentino's main rival in the "Latin Lover" category. But despite his considerable professional accomplishments, Novarro's most enduring claim to fame is his tragic death - his bloodied corpse was found in his house on Halloween 1968 in what has become one of the most infamous scandals in the vast lore of Hollywood.

Novarro was a life-long bachelor who had carefully cultivated his image as a man deeply devoted to his family and to his religious convictions. His murder shattered that image as it was revealed to the general public that the dashing screen hero had been not only homosexual, but had been killed by two young male hustlers. Since then, his death has achieved near mythic proportions. Increasingly outlandish stories have become accepted as truth, obscuring Novarro's notable professional legacy.

Beyond Paradise presents for the first time a full picture of the man who made motion picture history - from his amazing rise to stardom to the destructive conflicts faced by this traditional Catholic Mexican man who was also a gay film star. Compellingly told and impressively researched - including original interviews with Novarro's surviving friends, family, co-workers and the two men convicted of his murder - Beyond Paradise provides a unique insight into the groundbreaking life and career of one of the most important early Hollywood stars - a man whose myth continues to fascinate today.

Author Notes

André Soares was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University and currently operates a translation business working for numerous major American corporations. He is the author of several screenplays and lives in Los Angeles, California.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

To the recent spate of books detailing the history of gays in Hollywood's golden age (e.g., William J. Mann's Behind the Screen [2001] and Diana McLellan's The Girls [2000]) comes a worthy addition, Soares' chronicle of one of the biggest silent stars, Ramon Novarro, whose fame was parabolic, soaring to a Douglas Fairbanks^-like peak when he played the title role in Ben-Hur (1926) and peaking again with his grisly demise some 40 years after his first perihelion. In between, after sound dispelled the silents, his was largely a name from the past, ala Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, though he made the transition to talkies far better than fellow top-of-the-heap silent star John Gilbert. Still, his career spiraled down into cameo appearances and the like. By the time he was beaten to death by a couple of cruisers who may have intended only to steal some money, Novarro had been a customer of "escort services" for men for many years. However, Soares specifically accuses Hollywood sleazemonger Kenneth Anger of fabricating the lead "art-deco dildo" supposedly stuffed down the dead Novarro's throat. Dildo or no dildo, no Hollywood collection should be without a biography of Novarro, and Soares' story of this prototypical cinematic "Latin lover" fills the bill in excellent form. --Mike Tribby

Publisher's Weekly Review

Mexican heartthrob Ramon Novarro (1899-1968) was one of early Hollywood's leading romancers. He got his big break in 1923's Scaramouche, went on to play the title role in 1925's Ben-Hur and later appeared with Greta Garbo in 1932's Mata Hari. However, despite these sizeable roles, today Novarro is chiefly remembered for how he died: he was beaten to death by two hustlers. Now screenwriter and translator Andre Soares offers the thoroughly researched biography Beyond Paradise: The Life of Romon Novarro. Soares skillfully covers the actor's Mexican upbringing, his ascent to fame, his relationship with publicist and entertainment journalist Herbert Howe and the difficulties he encountered as a gay man. This is a straightforward and insightful account of one star's difficult life. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

One of the most popular leading men of the 1920s, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer player Novarro had a dark secret: he was gay. The Mexican-born star of such lushly romantic films as The Student Prince and The Pagan, as well as the worldwide sensation Ben-Hur, he tried to walk the fine line between concealing his homosexuality and refusing to play the Hollywood game (including a sham marriage) for the sake of appearances. A sensitive actor, he soon rose above the "Latin lover" stereotype and entered talking pictures with his stardom intact, especially in demand for roles featuring his pleasant singing voice. (He had hoped to be an opera singer.) Although his accent was not intrusive, his fame declined after a few years of poor roles, and he was forced to look to lesser studios and foreign countries to extend his career. In the early 1950s, Novarro returned to Hollywood for a few character roles and then was largely relegated to a life of wealthy retirement until his sordid 1968 murder by two hustlers. With this carefully researched, well-balanced, and intelligently written book, screenwriter Soares has probably produced the definitive Novarro biography. Recommended for all libraries.-Roy Liebman, California State Univ., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.