A Blog For Thelma Todd
Thelma Todd was a star of silent movies and later the talkies. She is remembered as much today for her mysterious death as she is for her films. In this blog, we take a look at Thelma Todd, her movies, and various commentaries.
The 1968 movie CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG could be seen as related to Thelma Todd because the producer was Pat DeCicco's cousin Cubby Broccoli. Then there's the character that was played by Anna Quayle.
In CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, Anna Quayle plays "Baroness Bomburst", who does a song and dance number dressed in her underwear with a hat on. Reminds me of some of the publicity pictures of Thelma Todd in SPEAK EASILY.
Anna Quayle's fluttery hand gestures appear to have been lifted from Zasu Pitts, who was teamed with Thelma Todd in a series of two-reel comedies at the Hal Roach studio.
It's like they were combining Thelma Todd and Zasu Pitts in one character.
Zasu Pitts visits Thelma Todd during the production of SPEAK EASILY.
Instead of another girl, the Baroness is teamed with a Baron.
They are the main villians in the movie, although they aren't in the original book. Since he keeps trying to kill her you would have thought that she would have been considered a victim, .but it's presented as humor. And in what is supposed to be a movie for kids.
Because producer Cubby Broccoli was the cousin of Pat DeCicco, who used to be married to Thelma Todd, there was someone involved in the production that was connected to Thelma Todd and Pat DeCicco, and who could have thought he was somehow getting back at Thelma Todd with what he was putting in the movie.
On the other hand, the movie starred Dick Van Dyke, who admired and emulated Stan Laurel, and it's not impossible that they were putting in other elements that were related to Stan Laurel without any thoughts of revenge.
It still looks bad. Especially in what was supposed to be a movie for little kids.
We discussed this business on yahoo in the Thelma Todd Club on Yahoo and later the Anna Quale Club, where the supposed humor involving murder attempts on Anna Quayle was not well thought of.
My brother Dale posted these messages in the Anna Quayle Club, in which he discussed the problems with this movie and it's historical connections:
"My brother Benny noticed something which has not been discussed here...Anna Quayle in that movie bore a striking resemblance to 1930s actress-commedienne Thelma Todd: he has a group for her. Thelma had a series of comedy short subjects teamed up with Zasu Pitts, whose trademark hand-fluttering gestures the Baroness also uses.
Cubby Broccoli was related to Pasquale "Pat" DiCicco, the man who was married to Thelma Todd, and both Pat and Cubby were in turn Married to the Mob. Some people say that The Mob had Thelma murdered to keep her in line, Pat happened to have an alibi. Since there was that kinship between Pat and Cubby, it is almost certain that any resemblances to Thelma that remain in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were DELIBERATELY added.
And actually, Roald Dahl has made a carreer out of making Children's books and Children's movies out of those books. And under the veneer of Make-believe, they are ALL full to the gills with Sick Stuff.
Best Wishes, Dale D."
"I sent in links to the Wikipedia article when I discussed this earlier and there were photographs. The historical woman the Baroness character was based on was Eleonore Reuss of Kostriz, Princess-Consort of Bulgaria:
"Born in Trebschen, the daughter of Prince Heinrich IV Reuss zu Köstritz and Princess Luise Caroline Reuss zu Greiz, Eleonore was described as 'a plain but practical... capable and kind-hearted woman.'
Following the death of his first wife, Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma, Ferdinand sought another wife to carry out the official duties required of the consort of a head of state. As a homosexual with no requirement to produce further heirs, Ferdinand stipulated to his assistant that he wanted a bride who did not expect affection or attention. A list of candidates was whittled down to Eleonore and she and Ferdinand subsequently married in Coburg on 28 February 1908. Initially entitled Princess of Bulgaria, Eleonore assumed the title Tsaritsa on 5 October 1908 following Bulgaria's declaration of independence from the Ottoman Empire.
Eleonore had presumably been carefully pre-informed of Ferdinand's sexual preferences and it is debatable whether the marriage was ever consummated. Certainly, Ferdinand demanded separate bedrooms for himself and Eleonore while guests of King Carol I of Romania during their honeymoon. As it was, Eleonore remained neglected by Ferdinand throughout their marriage, leaving her to raise her stepchildren and devote herself to the welfare of the Bulgarian people. Eleonore came into her own during the Balkans and First World Wars when, working tirelessly as a nurse, she was a cause of great comfort for many injured and dying Bulgarian soldiers. It was said that she had 'a special gift for relieving suffering'.
"Tsaritsa Eleonore became seriously ill during the final years of World War I, dying in Euxinograd, Bulgaria on 12 September 1917. Her last wish was to be buried in the cemetery of a 12th-century church at Boyana, near Sofia. This was granted. During the Socialist period the grave was dug, her jewelry stolen and then the decorative stones bulldozed back in the hole, with no visible marks left over the ground. However after the democratic changes in 1989, the original stones were excavated and the site was restored back to the original state."
--It would seem that the original was not considered a physical beauty but she had a great beauty of spirit.
And the central problem to all of this is WHY on EARTH did the author Roald Dahl choose THIS particularly unpleasant situation to add to a supposedly children's movie? The man had to have some severe problems of his own to focus on this situation-the author had basically carte blanche to choose any time period in the 20th century to set his story in and he chose THAT?? And the way the story plays out (with the attempted killings) was also not necessary, the author had to put that in there DELIBERATELY.
Since we have no Psychiatric examination records for Dahl we probably will never really know WHY-but the point is, Why is it even necessary to ASK Why? Why is it relevant to anybody or anything else to know why this sickness was even promulgated and passed off as humor in the first place?
Best Wishes, Dale D."
Why was this sickness promulgated and passed off as humor in the first place?
That I do not know.
But it would have been better if they had never done it in the first place.
A few more pictures of Pat DeCicco and his pals, of both the famous and the infamous variety.
Thelma Todd and Pat DeCicco at the first Screen Actor's Guild ball in 1934. Ted Healy and his Stooges - soon to go off on their own as The Three Stooges - were also there.
Pat DeCicco, June Knight, Howard Hughes.
Sally Blane and Pat DeCicco at the Trocadero. This would be around the time that the article in PHOTOPLAY mentioned that they were there.
Virginia Bruce and Pat DeCicco
Gloria Vanderbilt and Pat DeCicco Bridal Party; Betsy Bloomingdale (far left), Errol Flynn, and Carol Matthau
Reblogged from http://www.nickharvilllibraries.com/blog/meet-betty-newling
Pat DeCicco with Marilyn Monroe, 1951. Thelma Todd biographer Michelle Morgan said she became interested in Thelma Todd because of DeCicco's Marilyn Monroe connection.
Reblogged from http://slanderofmarilynmonroe.blogspot.com/p/marilyn-monroe-and-joe-dimaggio.html
Albert "Cubby" Broccoli ( right ) was DeCicco's cousin. He was the producer of several James Bond films, including the one this one is from, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. With him in the picture are Harry Saltzman, Sean Connery, and Diane Cilento.
Cubby Broccoli at one time was married to Joan Blondell's sister Gloria.
Virginia Hill in courtroom, 1951. She was Bugsy Siegel's girlfriend. The story is that DeCicco introduced her to George Raft, and then George Raft introduced her to Bugsy Siegel.
Wanted Poster For Virginia Hill
Mug shot of Bugsy Siegel
Bugsy Siegel and George Raft, two of Pat DeCicco's pals.
Lucille Ball, George Raft, Virginia Pine (and her daughter Joanie) and Mack Gray (April 25, 1935). Incidentally, Pat DeCicco dated Lucille Ball in the 1930's.
Reblogged from http://jake-weird.blogspot.com/2012/10/george-raft-film-gangster.html
Pasquale "Pat" DiCicco (February 14, 1909 – October 24, 1978) was an American agent and movie producer, as well as an alleged mobster working for Lucky Luciano. He married and divorced both Thelma Todd and Gloria Vanderbilt. He was a cousin of Albert R. Broccoli and gave him his well-known nickname "Cubby."
Todd's marriage in 1932 to DiCicco was particularly unstable and frequently erupted in drunken brawls, one of which resulted in a broken nose for DiCicco and an emergency appendectomy for Todd. They divorced in 1934. Todd died a year later from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
At 17 years old, Gloria Vanderbilt went to Hollywood, where she married DiCicco in 1941. DiCicco proved to be a temperamental and abusive husband who called her "Fatsy Roo," and regularly beat her. "He would take my head and bang it against the wall," Vanderbilt said. "I had black eyes." They divorced in 1945.
In 1953, DiCicco married actress Mary Jo Tarola (born February 27, 1928), also known by her stage name, Linda Douglas. The marriage lasted seven years before ending in divorce in 1960.
Ted Healy incident
DiCicco is alleged to have been involved in an altercation with comedian Ted Healy just before the latter's death in 1937.
A source alleged that actor Wallace Beery, producer Albert R. Broccoli, and Broccoli's cousin, agent/producer Pat DiCicco beat Healy so badly that he fell into a coma and died. While there is no documentation in contemporaneous news reports that either Beery or DiCicco was present, Broccoli admitted that he was indeed involved in a fist fight with Healy at the Trocadero. He later modified his story, stating that a heavily intoxicated Healy had picked a fight with him, the two had briefly scuffled, then shook hands and parted ways. In other reports, Broccoli admitted to pushing Healy, but not striking him.
There is disagreement over whether Healy died as a result of the brawl or due to his well-known alcoholism. Because of the authorities' lack of interest in investigating Healy's death, an autopsy was not performed until after Healy's corpse had been embalmed; rendering the examiner's note that Healy's organs were "soaked in alcohol" and useless in determining a cause of death.
Following the autopsy, the Los Angeles county coroner reported that Healy died of acute toxic nephritis secondary to acute and chronic alcoholism. Police closed their investigation, as there was no indication in the report that his death was caused by physical assault.
Jump up ^Vanderbilt, Gloria (2004). ""The Great Thing" (4)". It Seemed Important at the Time: A Romance Memoir. Rockefeller Center, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020: Simon & Schuster. p. 31. ISBN0-7432-6480-0.
Occasionally we come across the story that Pat DeCicco was working for Lucky Luciano. There is no proof of this. It is more likely that DeCicco was only a small-timer who was not directly associated with Luciano even though he was involved in the same line of business and started out in the same part of the country.
The imdb has the following trivia item for Pat DeCicco:
Acted as procurer for Howard Hughes and Joseph Schenk while acting nominally as a talent agent.
The association of DeCicco with Howard Hughes is well known, and remarked upon by Jane Russell in her autobiography. She said something to the effect that Howard Hughes didn't want her to become involved with him.
The story about Ted Healy is unproven, as is the allegation that Healy had an affair with Thelma Todd, which is part of the same package. But to get back to Thelma Todd -
It seemed to begin all at once. Thelma Todd and Pat DeCicco suddenly eloped to Arizona, where it was easier to get married right away.
Pat DeCicco, Jean Malin, Thelma Todd, and Lois Wilson at the Club New Yorker, 1932. The wife of Jean Malin was involved in prostitution, like DeCicco.
This caption claimed that DeCicco was from Argentina. He wasn't, but that didn't keep them from telling people that. It was a recurring story in Thelma Todd's publicity. Another story was that DeCicco was an Italian count, and that because of that Thelma Todd was a countess.
At the Brown Derby.
This one seems to be at the Brown Derby, too. Chester Morris is at left.
Pat DeCicco and Thelma Todd ( center ) at the Coconut Grove.
At the Mayfair opening, 1933.
At the Cameramen's Ball, 1933.
At the premiere of the movie CAVALCADE, 1933.
Thelma Todd and Pat DeCicco with Phil Harris.
Phil Harris later married Alice Faye.
There were rumors that a divorce was imminent after Thelma Todd took a trip to England in 1933.
Thelma Todd filed for divorce in 1934. The divorce became final the following year.
March 2, 1934: Thelma Todd is granted a divorce.
Divorces in Hollywood were quite common, as can be seen by the names on the list.
After the death of Thelma Todd, Pat DeCicco was called back to testify before the grand jury. Here, he bids his mother farewell.
Jeanette Meehan said in a newspaper article that DeCicco had never taken Thelma Todd to Long Island to meet his family, claiming that she was too busy.
DeCicco photographed during the investigation.
DeCicco was believed to have been one of the last people to have seen Thelma Todd alive., because he had shown up during the Lupino's party at the Trocadero. With him was Margaret Lindsay, who recently had made the movie BORDERTOWN with Paul Muni and Bette Davis.
That movie had a "garage murder" in it. People wondered if that could possibly have some connection with the death of Thelma Todd, since she had been found dead in a garage of carbon monoxide poisoning.
No one was able to prove anything.
The historical record shows that Pat DeCicco lied about how recently he'd been around Thelma Todd, and how often. He told reporters he hadn't seen her for a year, and that he had last seen her at the Venodome.*
From PHOTOPLAY, early 1935
This account mentions him having been around Thelma Todd at the Trocadero earlier in 1935. Jeanette Meehan said that he had been telling his family that Thelma Todd wanted to "patch things up". Some people thought that DeCicco had been trying to get her back.
Ted Healy had a run-in at the Trocadero a couple of years or so afterwards. Accounts differ as to whether or not this caused Healy's death. That story was in this book.
The story that Ted Healy was involved with Thelma Todd is in this book, too. But we find no mention of this affair from the period in which it was supposed to have taken place.
Carole Landis and Victor Mature in ONE MILLION BC. Reblogged from http://www.suspense-movies.com/stars/carole-landis/landis27.html
I guess "Director" sounded better than "Pimp", "Go-Fer", and similar titles for what in current parlance might be termed "Associates".
Pat DeCicco was the "Black Knight" the title referred to.
Some of the things she said about him were not good. She not only said that she had been told that he had killed Thelma Todd, but that he tried to kill her as well. This marriage ended in divorce, the same as the previous one.
Pat DeCicco with Gorgeous Gussie.
Gorgeous Gussie was one of a great many women whose name was linked with his in later years.
But the last one to marry him was Mary Jo Tarola, in 1953.
Like his two previous marriages, it didn't last.
Pat DeCicco was not important in the underworld or the motion picture industry, and was known only as someone who was around the rich and famous. Today he is remembered mainly for the women he was associated with.
*When he was summoned by the grand jury, DeCicco testified that "I saw her only about five times in the last two years, after we divorced". He also said that "There was no possibility of any reconciliation between us, and I made no overtures in that line."
Both statements contradicted what he had previously represented as the truth.
* * *
Rudy Schafer was the son of the manager of Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Café. In his later years he was able to communicate with me by e mail. What he told me about Pat DeCicco wasn't good.
He said, "I met Pat Diccio (sp) once, but didn't know him. The talk I heard was that he was rough on her and presumably beat her. There much sympathy for her on this score.
All I recall about this was from conversations I overheard at my grandparents home ( they raised me ) around the Sunday dinner table. The family usually got together then. The talk was that he was a sleaze ball and that he treated Thelma badly--verbally and physically. I have no specifics."
* * *
Although usually cast in some role other than "actor", Pat DeCicco did act in one movie, 1935's NIGHT LIFE OF THE GODS. In this movie he was one of the Greek gods who came to life when a magic potion was used on their statues.
We see him here at right with the wicked-looking blade with which he was supposed to have whacked off the head of Medusa. And we can watch this movie online now that it has been put on youtube.