Tuesday, February 19, 2019

How Thelma Became A New Woman

A newspaper article recounts how Thelma Todd was given a new name, "Alison Loyd", for the movie CORSAIR.

Posted by Adam Tunney in The Thelma Todd Fans Group on facebook

ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 27 Sept. 1931.

She started out to be a dignified schoolmarm, became instead a rowdy comedy queen, and now she's booked for "heavy' roles, with a new name " At the right. demure Alison Loyd, the dramatic actress. ; , 

THERE are some persons who will tell you that a rose by any other name wouldn't be half as popular as it is today. In Hollywood are hundreds of persons who believe that a name means everything not necessarily in connection with flowers, but anything, particularly themselves. One of the greatest indoor sports in the film colony is name changing. At least half of the players on the screen today are working under assumed names. Some adopted their new names at the start of their careers. Others changed their names as a means of attaining success. There has been, however, only one instance wherein a successful actress changed her name. That girl was Thelma Todd, now known as Alison Loyd sometimes. Hollywood is in quite an uproar over Thelma's act in changing her name, despite the fact that it usually pays little or no attention to such acts. Thelma's case, however, is different, because for a while at least she will have to use both names. The young actress, who has established quite a reputation as a comedienne, still has seven pictures to make to complete her contract with Hal Roach, comedy producer. But she was borrowed from Roach for the leading feminine role in "Corsair," and since the role is a very dramatic one. Producer Roland West didn't want a recognized comedienne to play it. Yet Thelma was the girl he wanted above all others. So instead of giving her a chance to prove to the world that she is just as good a dramatic actress as she is a comedienne, he suggested that she change her name, which Miss Todd consented to do. BUT and here's where the catch comes Roach already has sold his unmade Thelma Todd comedies to exhibitors. Consequently, Thelma will have to use her own name in those pictures. And perhaps she will have to use it in "Corsair" too. "I don't want to cause any unnecessary trouble for anyone," Roach declares. "But if at any time I find Thelma's use of the name Alison Loyd becoming detrimental to her future in my comedies, I will take the necessary legal steps to prevent her from using it." In adopting the name Alison Loyd, Thelma Todd is writing finis to a very colorful past. She came into this world in Lawrence, Mass., as Thelma Todd, and it was as such that she used to make mud pies in front of her father's home as a child. Thelma's father, John Shaw Todd, was for years an alderman in Lawrence end was one of the political leaders of the city. Being every bit as pretty at 14 as she is today. Thelma even then had to stand for a lot of "rushing" by the romantic boys of her native city. Perhaps it is fortunate that she was too young to take such things seriously at that time. Otherwise she might never have been seen on the silver screen as a comedy queen or a "heavy." In fact, she even treated her suitors so lightly that she found plenty of time to complete her studies in preparation for teaching school. While still in her teens. Thelma graduated from the Massachusetts Normal School at Lowell. Then she returned to Lawrence, where she obtained a position teaching school. That job lasted less than one term, however. Then Thelma forgot her book knowledge and turned her face towards new worlds the movies. MISS TODD'S blond ''- beauty and shapeliness won her employment as a fashion model while she still was attending school. And that beauty was not forgotten by theater owners in Lawrence and nearby towns when Paramount opened its training school in New York about five years ago. The idea of this school was to take one candidate from each section of the country and train them for future screen stardom. A candidate already had been chosen from New England, but so insistent were the Massachusetts exhibitors that the beautiful daughter of one of their political leaders be given a tryout that an exception was made in her case and arrangements were made to give her a test in the Paramount Long Island studio. The test completed, Thelma returned home to await the outcome. While waiting she was persuaded by the Lawrence Elks to represent their lodge in a beauty contest to be held at the state convention at Swampscott. At the close of this contest, she was named by the judges as "Miss Massachusetts." The very next day she received word from Paramount executives that she had passed her film test with flying colors and to report at once for enrollment in the Paramount training school. It was this school which also brought Charles "Buddy" Rogers to the screen. While attending the Paramount school, Thelma took part in the class play, "Fascinating Youth," portraying one of the leading characters. She also appeared in "God Gave Me Twenty Cents" and "The Popular Sin." Then she was ready for graduation. But instead of receiving a diploma, she was handed one of the leading roles opposite Ed Wynn in "Rubber Heels." That role stamped her as a full-fledged screen actress and sent her to Hollywood as a Paramount contract actress. THAT is the story of Thelma's entrance into movie-land. It has been said frequently that she won her contract through winning a beauty contest. True, she did win a beauty contest, but the order for her to report to the Paramount training school in New York already was in the mail before she was declared the winner. "I don't like to be known as just a beauty contest winner," says Miss Todd. " I worked like a Trojan in that training school in order to get my contract and I want the credit that is due me. One of these days I may need it." Thelma's first role after her arrival in Hollywood was the feminine lead opposite Gary Cooper in "Nevada." Then she was cast as leading lady opposite Richard Dix, Richard Barthelmess and Milton Sills in turn. . Since all of these roles had a light comedy touch to them, it was only natural for Thelma to become stamped as a comedienne." Hollywood classifies its actors and actresses very quickly. With this stamp upon her, it was not long before the charming actress drifted into straight comedy roles. First she had a lead opposite Harry Langdon. Then came talkies. LIKE many other screen actresses, Thelma had some tough sledding in the early talkie days. Then Hal Roach signed her and cast her in some Laurel and Hardy and Charley Chase comedies. When that contract expired, the young actress started free lancing. For two years she managed to keep the wolf quite a distance from her door, although she went through several rather long periods of inactivity. At the beginning of this year Roach again signed her to co-star with Zasu Pitts in a series of comedies. Then came the turning point in her life Roland West borrowed her for the leading feminine role in "Corsair." WEST spent a long time making tests of various girls to play opposite Chester Morris in "Corsair," but Thelma was the only one who suited him. Despite her comedy background, he saw her dramatic possibilities. Yet he knew that to have a comedienne play this role would give the public a wrong- impression of the picture. So, upon West's suggestion, she changed her name to Alison Loyd and, according to the producer, she also has changed her personality. "The changing of Thelma Todd's name to Alison Loyd is in the nature of an experiment," West declares. "It goes far beyond her name. It is an attempt to change her personality and outlook as well. "I have instructed everyone connected with the picture to always address her as Alison Loyd. Thelma Todd is dead as far as we are concerned and there is to be no mention of her as long as this picture is in production. In this way we hope to make Miss Loyd forget that she ever was a comedienne. "I had hoped to keep the identity of Miss Loyd a secret until 'Corsair' was released and then spring her upon the film world as an entirely new actress which she is, having never done a role of this nature before. But I have discovered that a goldfish has more privacy than an actress in Hollywood. Nothing can be kept a secret as long as you news hounds are around."  And what does Miss Loyd think of her new name? She likes it. "I have always wanted to play dramatic roles," she says. . "But you know how it ii out here. Casting directors have a way of keeping players in certain grooves and never letting them out. Once you make a good impression in a certain type of role, there is practically no chance of getting away from it. "Everyone has always thought of Thelma Todd as a rowdy comedienne. She never could get an opportunity to do anything else. But as Alison Loyd I at least have a chance of being dissociated from my past roles. "If I happen to score a success in 'Corsair, I am sure my new name will identify me with dramatic roles. Yet, even after establishing myself as a dramatic actress, should a comedy role come along that I want to play, I at least will be able to get some consideration because of the years I spent as a comedienne." The actual choosing of a new name for this blond actress presented quite a problem. Finally a numerologist was consulted. The name itself was finally derived by combining the first name of Alison Corning, the character she portrays in the picture, and the last name of Rollo Lloyd, who will co-direct the film with West. The numerologist decided, however, that Loyd would be better than Lloyd, since it gave the combination key number "nine." Y a process of numerology the name Thelma Todd resolves itself into the co-efficient "three." This is known as a success number, but it is "under the influence of easy success and general happiness and its vibration is one of gayety." On the other hand, the name Alison Loyd reduces itself in final calculation to the number "nine." This, according to numerologists, is the-number of material success, wealth and power in the fields of the art. The various implications of the name are mystic, sensitive and psychic and the vibration is an emotional one. Numerology therefore presages a stormier, more fiery but still more successful career for Alison Loyd. And, of course, in case she doesn't find the happiness she has had in the past, she always can become Thelma Todd again. This experiment is bound to prove an interesting one, particularly as long as the actress is forced to continue using two names. The dramatic Alison Loyd who leaves the United Artists studio, where "Corsair" is being produced, will be expected to revert to the happy-go-lucky Thelma Todd the very moment she drives her car through the gates to the Hal Roach studio. Whether or not this continual change of character works, only time will tell. 


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