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Guglielmi v. Spelling-Goldberg Productions
California Supreme Court
25 Cal. 3d 860, 603 P.2d 454, 160 Cal. Rptr. 352 (1979)
Jean Guglielmi (Guglielmi) (plaintiff) was the nephew of Rudolpho Guglielmi, also known as Rudolph Valentino (Valentino). Valentino was an Italian silent-film actor who died in 1926. In 1975, Spelling-Goldberg Productions (Spelling) (defendant) aired a movie entitled Legend of Valentino: A Romantic Fiction (the movie), which was a fictionalized depiction of Valentino’s life. Guglielmi filed suit against Spelling in a California state court, alleging that Guglielmi had inherited Valentino’s right of publicity upon Valentino’s death and that Spelling’s use of Valentino’s name and likeness in the false depiction of Valentino for commercial purposes infringed that right. Spelling, however, argued that the movie was an expression of protected speech under the First Amendment and the California Constitution. The trial court agreed with Spelling and dismissed Guglielmi’s complaint. Guglielmi appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Bird, C.J.)
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