Rudolph Valentino is possibly the most famous star of the silent film era. He was born in Italy in 1895, and immigrated to the United States at age 18. Initially, he settled in New York City, doing odd jobs and giving tango lessons to keep afloat.
His start in show business came as part of a dancing company, and from there he accepted bit parts in movies until his career took off. Apart from his work as an extra, Valentino starred in 14 films between 1921 and 1926, most notably The Sheik.