Actress. Despite having a undistinguished motion picture career, she gained lasting notoriety as the first wife of film icon Rudolph Valentino. Born on a farm near Trenton, New Jersey, she made her film debut in 1913. An expert horsewoman, she performed her own stunts in several westerns and serials but never progressed beyond secondary roles. In 1918 she went to Hollywood as a protégé of actress Alla Nazimova, who ruled over her mostly lesbian "sewing circle" of protégés with an iron hand. The Russian actress disapproved of Acker's affair with Metro Studios starlet Grace Darmond and actively discouraged her friendship with Valentino, then a struggling supporting player, who she dismissed as a "lounge lizard". It was perhaps in a spirit of defiance that Acker married Valentino on November 5, 1919, barely two months after they met. Problems arose immediately. On their wedding night she locked her new husband out of their room in the Hotel Hollywood and fled to Darmond, admitting she'd made a mistake. (One story, related by actress Patricia Neal, who knew Acker in the 1940s, was that she bolted from the bridal suite because Valentino confessed that he had a venereal disease). The couple never lived together and divorced in 1922, though this did not prevent Acker from exploiting the relationship once Valentino became a superstar. In 1923 she toured vaudeville with an act called "How She Won the Sheik" and in one film, "The Woman in Chains" (1923), she billed herself as "Mrs. Rudolph Valentino". The two eventually became friends again and she visited Valentino on his deathbed in 1926. After six years away from the screen Acker returned to films with the ironically titled "No Marriage Ties" (1933) and appeared in unbilled bit parts through the mid-1950s. Her credits include "In a Woman's Power" (1913), "Checkers" (1919), "Brewster's Millions" (1921), "Braveheart" (1925), "San Francisco" (1936), "Spellbound" (1945), "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946), and "The Mating Season" (1951). In later years Acker lived in a Beverly Hills, California apartment building she co-owned with her companion, Chloe Carter. They are buried next to each other at Holy Cross Cemetery.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards
REST IN PEACE