His death at age 31 spurred suicide attempts and waves of public violence by mourners; a testament to the singular cultural lightning rod that had been the life of Rudolph Valentino. Dubbed "The Great Lover" for posterity, H.L. Mencken called him "catnip to women," even as some of the nation's most influential op-ed pages castigated him as a catalyst in a national wave of effeminacy in American men, perhaps the nation's first bout of "metrosexuality." Arguably the first true superstar in the modern age, Valentino left more of mark as a heartthrob and a media phenomenon than, by critical consensus, his actual acting as recorded in his silent films. He lived, however briefly, an odyssey of vice, innuendo, scandal and the high society excesses for which his profession - then in its infancy - would become notorious. But his famed tango in "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" and onscreen image as "The Sheik," both in 1921, became mesmerizing, sensual imprints of the power of moving pictures, making him an avatar of the celebrity-obsessed popular culture then gestating throughout the country.