Wednesday, November 4, 2015


I have just received a copy of Michelle Morgan's THE ICE CREAM BLONDE: THE WHIRLWING LIFE AND MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF SCREWBALL COMEDIENNE THELMA TODD for review.  Michelle Morgan has also written several books about Marilyn Monroe. There is a connection here.

Michelle Morgan: I actually became aware of her through Marilyn Monroe. I was doing research for a revised edition of my first Marilyn biography, and I came across a letter sent to her by director Elia Kazan. In the letter he warns her to stay away from Pat De Cicco. I had no idea who he was, so did some research and discovered that he had been married to Thelma, and she died under mysterious circumstances. Until that point, I had known nothing about her at all except for her name. Of course after I discovered her, I couldn't stop thinking about her and I watched everything I could get my hands on, and started doing tentative research to see if there was enough material to write a thorough investigation into her life and death. I was happy to discover there was.

I sent Michelle Morgan some information for her book. Some of it must have been about Pat DeCicco, but somehow I think he ended up being depicted as somewhat less awful than I would have expected. Something that may also be true of Roland West, but the book goes into more detail about the wrongdoings of that particular associate of Thelma Todd, some of which may fall into the category of alleged but unproven.

There is a lot about Thelma Todd in this book. Some of it has been covered in previous biographies, some of it has not. There is more about her life and career, her trip to England and her meeting with famous physicist Albert Einstien. Like the other books, it does not prove absolutely whether the death of Thelma Todd was accident, murder, or suicide. But Michelle Morgan at least consulted an expert, something I've said was needed when confronted by the mindless arguments of the willfully ignorant.

In addition to the usual suspects - Lucky Luciano, Roland West, and Pat DeCicco - this book offers a new one, Tony Cornero, a gambler who haunted the area in that era. We remember him from his gambling ship, which is mentioned in some accounts of gambling in California in that era.

Finally, this is not a book that claims to have once and for all solved the mystery, something other authors have done in the past without actually having done it. This author encourages further discussion among the fans, who are welcome to try to build upon what has been presented here.

Many thanks to Chicago Review Press for providing a copy of the book for review.




  1. Michelle Morgan: Thanks Benny. I don't recall you sending any information about De Cicco, but I did appreciate the items you sent about the FBI etc. I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

  2. Benny Drinnon: You're welcome. Maybe I didn't send anything about DeCicco, I might not have thought of it at the time. But he was a bad one.