Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Wikipedia Entry For Thelma Todd

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Thelma Todd

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Thelma Todd
Thelma Todd 1933.jpg
Thelma Todd in c. 1933
BornThelma Alice Todd
(1906-07-29)July 29, 1906
Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedDecember 16, 1935(1935-12-16) (aged 29)
Pacific Palisades, California, U.S.
Cause of deathAccidental carbon monoxide poisoning
Other namesAlison Loyd
Years active1926–1935
Spouse(s)Pat DiCicco
(m. 1932; div. 1934)
Thelma Alice Todd[1] (July 29, 1906 – December 16, 1935)[2] was an American actress. Appearing in about 120 pictures between 1926 and 1935, she is best remembered for her comedic roles in films such as Marx Brothers' Monkey Business and Horse Feathers, a number of Charley Chase's short comedies, and co-starring with Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante in Speak Easily. She also had roles in Wheeler and Woolsey farces, several Laurel and Hardy films, the last of which (The Bohemian Girl) featured her in a part that was truncated by her suspicious death at the age of 29.

Early life

Todd was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts[2] to John Shaw Todd, an upholsterer from Ireland,[3] and Alice Elizabeth Edwards, an immigrant from Canada[4] and was a bright student who achieved good academic results. She intended to become a school teacher and enrolled at the Lowell Normal School (now University of Massachusetts, Lowell) after graduating from high school in 1923.[5] However, in her late teens, she began entering beauty pageants, winning the title of Miss Massachusetts in 1925.[5] While representing her home state, she was spotted by a Hollywood talent scout and began her career in film at Paramount. She had an older brother, William.[6]


Todd as Alison Corning in Corsair (1931)
During the silent film era, Todd appeared in numerous supporting roles that made full use of her beauty but gave her little chance to act. With the advent of the talkies, Todd was given opportunity to expand her roles when producer Hal Roach signed her to appear with such comedy stars as Harry Langdon, Charley Chase, and Laurel and Hardy.
In 1931, Roach cast Todd in her own series of slapstick comedy shorts, running 17 to 27 minutes each. In an attempt to create a female version of Laurel and Hardy, Roach teamed Todd with ZaSu Pitts (pronounced "say-zoo", also her character's name) for 17 shorts, from "Let's do Things" (June 1931) through "One Track Minds" (May 1933). When Pitts left in 1933, she was replaced by Patsy Kelly, appearing with Todd in 21 shorts, from "Beauty and the Bus" (September 1933) through "An All American Toothache" (January 1936). These Roach shorts often cast Todd as a working girl having all sorts of problems, and trying her best to remain poised and charming despite the embarrassing antics of her sidekick.
In 1931, Todd starred in Corsair, a film directed by Roland West, with whom she would later become romantically involved. [1][7]
Todd became highly regarded as a capable film comedian, and Roach loaned her out to other studios to play opposite Wheeler & Woolsey, Buster Keaton, Joe E. Brown, and the Marx Brothers. She also appeared successfully in such dramas as the original 1931 film version of The Maltese Falcon starring Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade, in which she played Miles Archer's treacherous widow. During her career she appeared in 119 films although many of these were short films, and was sometimes publicized as "The Ice Cream Blonde."
In August, 1934, Todd opened a successful cafe, Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Cafe, at 17575 Pacific Coast Highway in the Los Angeles coastal neighborhood of Pacific Palisades. It attracted a diverse clientele of Hollywood celebrities as well as many tourists.[8][9][10][11]

Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Cafe,
[12]17535 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades
Todd continued her short-subject series through 1935, and was featured in the full-length Laurel and Hardy comedy The Bohemian Girl. This was her last film; she died after completing all of her scenes, but most of them were re-shot. Producer Roach deleted all of Todd's dialogue and limited her appearance to one musical number.[13]


Buster Keaton, Thelma Todd and Jimmy Durante in Speak Easily (1932)
On the morning of December 16, 1935, Thelma Todd was found dead in her car inside the garage of Jewel Carmen, a former actress and former wife of Todd's lover and business partner, Roland West. Carmen's house was approximately a block from the topmost side of Todd's restaurant.[14][15][16] Her death was determined to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. West is quoted in a contemporaneous newspaper account[17] as having locked her out, which may have caused her to seek refuge and warmth in the car. Todd had a wide circle of friends and associates as well as a busy social life.
Police investigations revealed that she had spent the previous Saturday night (December 14) at the Trocadero, a popular Hollywood restaurant, at a party hosted by entertainer Stanley Lupino and his actress daughter, Ida. At the restaurant, she had had a brief but unpleasant exchange with her ex-husband, Pat DiCicco. However, her friends stated that she was in good spirits, and were aware of nothing unusual in her life that could suggest a reason for her committing suicide.[18] She was driven home from the party in the early hours of December 15 by her chauffeur, Ernest O. Peters.[17]

Thelma Todd, 1930
The detectives of the LAPD concluded that Todd's death was accidental, the result of her either warming up the car to drive it or using the heater to keep herself warm. A Coroner's Inquest into Todd's death was held on December 18, 1935.[19] Autopsy surgeon A.P. Wagner testified that there were "no marks of violence anywhere upon or within the body" with only a "superficial contusion on the lower lip."[20] There are informal accounts of greater signs of injury.[21] The jury ruled that the death appeared to be accidental but recommended "further investigation to be made into the case, by proper authorities." [22]
Subsequently a grand jury probe was held to determine whether Todd's death was a murder. After four weeks of testimony, the inquiry was closed with no evidence of murder being brought forward.[23] The case was closed by the Homicide Bureau, which listed the death as "accidental with possible suicide tendencies." However, investigators were unable to find any motive for suicide or a suicide note.[23]
Todd's body was cremated. After her mother's death in 1969, Todd's remains were placed in her mother's casket and buried in Bellevue Cemetery in her hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts.


For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Todd has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6262 Hollywood Blvd.[24]

Selected filmography

1926Fascinating YouthLorraine LaneSilent
1927Rubber HeelsPrincess AnneSilent
1927Fireman, Save My ChildUncredited/Silent
1928Noose, TheThe NoosePhyllisSilent
1928Abie's Irish RosePart-talkie
1928Haunted House, TheThe Haunted HouseSilent
1929Her Private LifeMrs. LeslieLost film/First full length talkie
1929Seven Footprints to SatanEveProduced as both a silent film and part-talkie
1929Unaccustomed As We AreMrs. KennedyShort film
1929House of Horror
1930Her ManNelly
1930Another Fine MessLady PlumtreeShort film
1931Chickens Come HomeMrs. HardyShort film
1931No LimitBetty Royce
1931Maltese Falcon, TheThe Maltese FalconIva ArcherAlternative title: Dangerous Female
1931CorsairAlison CorningCredited as Alison Loyd
1931Monkey BusinessLucille Briggs
1931On the LooseThelmaShort subject
1931BroadmindedGertie Gardner
1932Big Timer, TheThe Big TimerKay Mitchell
1932This Is the NightClaire
1932DeceptionLola Del Mont
1932Horse FeathersConnie Bailey
1932Speak EasilyEleanor Espere
1932Call Her SavageSunny De Lane
1933You Made Me Love YouPamela Berne
1933Fra DiavoloLady Pamela RocburgAlternative titles: Bogus Bandits
The Devil's Brother
1933Sitting PrettyGloria Duval
1933Air HostessMrs. Carleton
1933Mary Stevens, M.D.Lois Rising
1933Counsellor at LawLillian La Rue
1934PalookaTrixieAlternative titles: Joe Palooka
The Great Schnozzle
1934Hips, Hips, Hooray!Amelia Frisby
1934Cockeyed CavaliersLady Genevieve
1935Two for TonightLilly
1936Bohemian Girl, TheThe Bohemian GirlGypsy queen's daughterWith Darla Hood

See also


  1. ^ Jump up to: a b Erickson, Hal. "Thelma Todd". 
  2. ^ Jump up to: a b "Almanac of Famous People". Biography in Context. 2011. Retrieved December 25, 2015. 
  3. Jump up ^ 1910 United states Federal Census
  4. Jump up ^ The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Pedigree Resource File," database,FamilySearch( : accessed 2016-06-09), entry for Thelma Alice /Todd/.
  5. ^ Jump up to: a b "In remembrance Thelma Todd on her would-be 107th birthday". Eagle-Tribune. Retrieved 2015-12-25. 
  6. Jump up ^ 1910 United States Federal Census
  7. Jump up ^ Wright, David (2002). Joyita: Solving the Mystery. Auckland University Press. p. 3. ISBN 1-86940-270-7. 
  8. Jump up ^ Wallace, David; Miller, Ann (2003). Hollywoodland. Macmillan. p. 21. ISBN 0-312-31614-3. 
  9. Jump up ^
  10. Jump up ^
  11. Jump up ^
  12. Jump up ^
  13. Jump up ^ Louvish, Simon (2002). Stan and Ollie, The Roots of Comedy: The Double Life of Laurel and Hardy. Macmillan. p. 339. ISBN 0-312-26651-0. 
  14. Jump up ^
  15. Jump up ^
  16. Jump up ^
  17. ^ Jump up to: a b "Thelma Todd Feared Gangs". The Milwaukee Journal. Dec 18, 1935. Retrieved 10 January 2016. 
  18. Jump up ^ Thelma Todd "Mysteries & Scandals" on YouTube
  19. Jump up ^ Donati, William. The Life and Death of Thelma Todd. McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012, p. 104.
  20. Jump up ^ Donati, William. The Life and Death of Thelma Todd. McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012, p. 368
  21. Jump up ^ Morgan, Michelle (November 1, 2015). The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd. Chicago Review Press. pp. 211, 212. ISBN 9781613730386. 
  22. Jump up ^ Donati, William. The Life and Death of Thelma Todd. McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012, p. 174
  23. ^ Jump up to: a b Donati, William. The Life and Death of Thelma Todd. McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012, p. 187
  24. Jump up ^ "Thelma Todd". The Los Angeles Times. 17 December 1935. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 

Further reading

  • Marshall Croddy and Patrick Jenning (2016). Testimony of a Death. Redondo Beach, California: Bay City Press. ISBN 9781530498475. 
  • Edmonds, Andy (1989). Hot Toddy: The True Story of Hollywood's Most Sensational Murder. New York: William Morrow and Co. Inc. ISBN 0-688-08061-8. 
  • James Robert Parish and William T. Leonard; Gregory W. Mank; Charles Hoyt (1979). The Funsters. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House. ISBN 0-87000-418-2. 
  • Morgan, Michelle (2015). The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Review Press. ISBN 9781613730386. 

External links


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