September 05, 1977 12:00 PM

Although he looked more like a refugee from rock’s New York Dolls than from the Soviet Union, the man under the chalk-white Pan-Cake was dance-king-turned-actor Rudolf Nureyev. Debuting as that other Rudolph in Ken Russell’s Valentino—due this fall—Nureyev began his morning makeup sessions for a “Monsieur Beaucaire” scene at 7:15, hours earlier than his usual reveille, and had to stay off his famous feet for as long as 75 minutes while British makeup maven Peter Robb-King worked him over. But Nureyev wasn’t asleep; he was busy riffling through newspapers from the U.S., England and Italy. Nureyev, says Robb-King, “is one of the best-informed artists on current affairs that I’ve met.”

Nureyev, 39, who once said he wanted to play Valentino “before I get wrinkles and they have to photograph me through a mattress,” also charmed photographer Tony Snowdon, who shot this sequence. “Rudolf is a great professional,” enthuses Snowdon, “and is marvelous to photograph.”

Coiffeur Colin Jamison’s job was less of a snap. “Nureyev’s hair is very, very straight and fairly fine,” he found. “When he’s dancing, apparently he uses nearly a whole can of lacquer to hold it in place so that it’s almost like a hat. Otherwise, when he sweats, it all falls down.” Still, Jamison says, “Girls watching the rough cut thought Nureyev was very dishy.” Fine, but the whole tortuous Beaucaire sequence has been excised from the final cut.

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