Friday, September 28, 2018

Thelma Todd's Height

Thelma Todd made her last public appearance at a party given by Ida Lupino's father at the Trocadero on December 14, 1935. The Grand Jury listened to the testimony of witnesses who claimed to have seen her still alive the next day, which would have meant that the authorities had been wrong about the time of her death. The authorities believed that these witnesses were mistaken. One of the reasons given for this opinion was that these witnesses described the woman they had seen as having a height of five foot six, which was taller than Thelma Todd. So her height was considered to have some importance to the investigation.

Five foot two used to be considered the ideal height for a woman. Movie actresses were usually kind of short. Thelma Todd was considered tall. But TESTIMONY OF A DEATH doesn't give you that impression at all. On page 145 she is actually referred to as "diminutive".

How tall was Thelma Todd? Well, she did wear high heels, so that would have made her look taller than she would otherwise.

Shoes worn by Thelma Todd at the time of her death. 

The coroner said her height was five foot three. Usually her height had been given as five foot four. It's possible that the coroner was wrong ( the coroner was supposed to have given the wrong height for Marilyn Monroe ), but that is a difference of only one inch, which doesn't seem to matter very much.

How tall is the average woman today? Not quite five foot four according to the site at ( link at the bottom of the page ). That would mean that Thelma Todd would still be fairly close to average height today. 

Thelma Todd's height had sometimes been given as 5' 6", as in STARS OF THE PHOTOPLAY ( 1930 )

That's an old photo, by the way. They made her lose weight and cut her hair after it was taken.

Five foot six was also the height given for Rita Hayworth. There was a dress that was worn by Thelma Todd in one movie that was worn by Rita Hayworth in another later on*. That makes it sound like they were close to the same size, although it's possible that Rita Hayworth could have grown after having worn the dress that had been worn by Thelma Todd.

The waitress costumes worn by Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly in ALL-AMERICAN TOOTHACHE ( 1935 ) were reused in GHOST CHASTERS ( 1951 ).

Jan Kayne, Leo Gorcey, Bernard Gorcey, William Benedict, Bernard Gorcey, and Huntz Hall in a publicity photo. 

I don't have any information on the height of Jan Kayne, but she must have been somewhere around the same size as either Thelma Todd or Patsy Kelly ( five foot two and a half ) to wear one of the same costumes.

They could reuse the same costumes for years afterwards because they continued to use actresses of about the same size. These actresses were probably thought of as being about average in height at the time. They were.

It might be said that the perception that Thelma Todd was tall could have weakened the authorities' claim to have accurately established the time of her death. But the authorities knew more about such things than I do, so there probably isn't much point in worrying about that now.

Patrick Jenning and Marshall Croddy still got it wrong when they referred to Thelma Todd as "diminutive" in their book.

*According to my files, this was in the book THOSE GLORIOUS GLAMOUR YEARS by Margaret J. Bailey. Thelma Todd wore a black dress in the 1935 Columbia picture AFTER THE DANCE that was worn by Rita Hayworth in the 1937 movie GIRLS CAN PLAY.

Rita Hayworth:

Height of average woman:

Height of 5'4" given for Thelma Todd and other actresses:

Height of Patsy Kelly:


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