Thursday, June 24, 2021

Thelma Todd And Pete The Pup


The story was that this poor doggie was suffering from kleig eye and the kind-hearted Thelma was trying to comfort him. Lucky dog.


Tuesday, June 22, 2021




Friday, June 18, 2021

Thelma Todd Leaving The Trocadero


Candid photo of Thelma Todd leaving the Trocadero Cafe. Marked "From the collection of Richard W. Bann", who is an authority on the Hal Roach Studio.

 Ebay seller's description:

Candid photo of Thelma Todd leaving the Trocadero Cafe with NY attorney J.V. Kline. Information snipe and International News Photo stamp on verso.


Monday, June 14, 2021

Thelma Todd (Part 2 of Special "News Notes From Movieland" Tribute)


From The Thelma Todd Fan Group on facebook.:

Thelma Todd (Part 2 of Special "News Notes From Movieland" Tribute)

In commemoration of the centennial of the brilliant comedienne:
NEWS NOTES FROM MOVIELAND (Tribute to a Lovely Lady--Part 2)
Thelma Todd Remembered by Contemporary Journalists
>From the newspaper articles published shortly after her passing on
December 16, 1935
Compiled by William M. Drew

>From the article, "Thelma Todd's Death Will Not Erase Memory of Star's
Joyous Laughter; Comedienne Was 'Versatile Success,'" by Hubbard Keavy:
Hollywood, Cal., Dec. 21.--AP--The last time I saw Thelma Todd alive
she was playing badminton and she was being beaten badly.
But losing point after point didn't upset her in the least. When
friends on the sidelines ribbed her over her inability to put the
shuttlecock back over the net, she laughed. She laughed every time she
made an inaccurate shot. She was having all the fun, she insisted.
Thelma Todd's laughter will long be remembered in Hollywood even
though she is gone. Hers was a joyous, happy, sincere laughter that
caught on and made others happy.
I've seen things happen on motion picture sets that caused stars to
lose their tempers. I've seen Thelma Todd working before the camera,
too. When she forgot her dialog, or when something happened to the
sound mechanism during a difficult scene, she didn't "blow up" as the
average star frequently does. She laughed instead. She thought of
some quip that kept others in the company from losing their tempers.
Thelma Todd was happy.
Thelma often joked about "the school marm who won a beauty contest,"
but she was extremely serious about her career on the screen. She
likewise was serious about her cafe, an enterprise that met with
immediate success. The cafe, of which she was half owner with Roland
West, who directed her in "Corsair," was popular because Thelma gave it
so much time and attention. ("The Galveston Daily News," December 22,

>From the Syndicated Two-Part Series, "Thelma Todd 'Behind the Movie
Screen' Story," by Jeanette Meehan:
Although all Hollywood mourns the blonde beauty, there is one group
of people who, if possible, are a little sadder than all the rest.
They are the workers at the Hal Roach studio in Culver City. Not just
the big shots, but all the "little shots," too.
Thelma had worked at the Culver City plant for seven years. In
truth, she seemed as much a part of the studio as the stages
themselves. To everyone, from the messenger boys to Roach, she was
"Thelma" or "Toddy."
She loved that--the friendliness she provoked in all those with whom
she worked. She valued the common ground on which she stood with each
and every person at the studio.
Each time Thelma Todd appeared on the Roach lot after every two-week
layoff between comedies, it was like Old Home Week. As she drove in
the gate, she would stop to chat with the policeman on duty there.
That jolly fellow unburdened all his joys and tribulations to her.
Thelma was always the first to know when there was a new baby. She
was the first to know when the first tooth appeared--and was joyously
informed when diapers had become a thing of the past.
Each little incident interested the actress every bit as much as if
it had occurred in her own life.
As she alighted from her car and walked across the paved avenue to
her dressing room, it was the same story. From bus boys, carpenters,
and studio bosses came the greeting, "Hi Toddy." On one occasion, only
a few weeks ago, a young man in the casting office, perceiving her
entrance, leaned out of his window and bellowed, "Thanks be, you're
back. This burg was getting dull."
You see, Thelma was the studio "cut-up." Her favorite pastime was
ribbing Stax Graves, a serious-minded still man who photographed Thelma
for seven years.
She would pose beautifully for him until he leaned down to peer in
the camera, whereupon she would let him have a series of horrible
faces. It was amazing to see the fantastic images into which Thelma
could distort her pretty countenance, and yet for all her antics, all
the boys at the studios where she has worked agree that she was the
most willing camera subject in Hollywood.
She loved those comedies because she had such a heck of a good time
making them. All concerned enjoyed their production. Out of fairness
to Thelma, the fun was mostly of her own making. She clowned all over
the place. No fall or comedy stunt was too strenuous for her to
She came out of them with many bruises, but although the studio
urged it, she would not hear of a stand-in or a double. Had she been
of a less gracious disposition, she might easily have made her shooting
schedules a trial to everyone.
One day, when Sam Cohen had been on the lot as publicity director
only a week, he walked onto the set where Thelma was working.
She was sitting on a parallel about six feet above the ground. A
stack of dishes were beside her. She was not in the scene.
She waited until the director called "Camera," then she called out,
"Catch 'em, Sam" and one by one she threw the plates to the nervous man
who had to catch them--or else.
Who cared if the "take" was ruined as long as the beauteous blonde
comedienne kept them in good humor?
Every afternoon, when the days' work was finished, Thelma and Patsy
Kelly, her starring partner, would race to the projection room to see
yesterdays' rushes.
There they laughed their heads off at each other. Patsy thought her
partner was the most marvelous comedienne in the world, and vice versa.
Thelma Todd was generous to a fault. If a person so much as
expressed admiration of something in her possession, perhaps a bottle
of perfume or a piece of jewelry or a new gown, the article was usually
presented to her on the spot.
If anyone on the lot of little means was injured or needed medical
attention, Thelma always arranged it, and arranged it so that the
person never knew whence came his help.
One day she received a note from a boy on the lot who had a pair of
badly infected tonsils removed. The bill had been paid for him.
The note read, "All three of my guesses are Thelma Todd. Bless you."
And the boy was right. ("The Syracuse Herald," December 23, 1935)
During the weeks just prior to her death, Thelma had been dieting
and reducing, though she disliked them. But she was frequently seen,
as usual, sitting at the wheel of an expensive open phaeton, her blonde
hair blowing in the wind, her hand raised in greeting to passing
She loved fine cars and speed as much as she loved pretty clothes.
Miss Todd had also finished her Christmas shopping. The packages
were all stacked against the wall of her apartment, scores and scores
of them. Thelma never forgot. She slipped about the studio finding
out what people really wanted. Then she got these things for them.
This year she had done it again, and the packages stand there, silent
witnesses of a girl's big heart. ("The Syracuse Herald," December 24,

>From the article, "Beauty and Brains Account for Film Career of
Thelma," by Robbin Coons:
When she came to Hollywood, she was not long in revealing that
behind her pink-and-white complexion and under her long golden tresses
was plenty of good common sense.
She saw other players, less beautiful and less talented than she,
"Go Hollywood" in a large way. But no matter how her salary checks
jumped, how the fan mail increased, Thelma kept her old friends and
made new ones. She had no illusions about "art" and fewer about the
superiority of so-called drama over good, honest comedy. It was her
willingness--even eagerness--to play in comedy that helped to continue
her popularity where other players, merely beautiful, dropped from the
camera's eye.
"I like a good laugh," she said. "And comedy? Say, I love it.
It's fun."
On the Hal Roach lot, where she made two-reelers first with ZaSu
Pitts and later with Patsy Kelly, everybody swore by--not at--Thelma
Todd. She was around when anybody needed help, and she always had time
to pass the "time of day" with prop boys or wardrobe mistresses as with
executives and fellow stars. She thought they were all important even
though it was she who happened to get her face on the screen. The best
instance of her unusual popularity is that both ZaSu Pitts and Patsy
Kelly counted her as a close friend. ("The Oshkosh Northwestern,"
December 19, 1935)

Ursula 2.7T

Jul 31, 2006, 3:48:03 PM
Thanks for this post and your other one of Thelma Todd. She sounds
like an awesome person! I don't know too much about her, but I am
looking forward to catching some of her films on TCM soon (a couple of
Marx Bros flix this week, and it looks like several T.Todd/Z.Pitts flix
in mid-September). Thanks for these timely posts; my interest is
definitely piqued and I will have to learn more about her now! :)


Thelma Todd (Special "News Notes From Movieland" Tribute--Pt. 1)


From The Thelma Todd Fan Group on facebook.:

On July 29, 1906, Thelma Todd was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts. She
would become one of the American screen's most scintillating, beautiful
stars. A master of slapstick comedy in which her natural poise and
elegance was hilariously counterpointed to the frenetic action, she
remains totally unique in her timeless appeal. In commemoration of her
centennial, I am posting a special "News Notes From Movieland" series.
The first part consists of Thelma's own views on acting and her career
as she expressed it in interviews of the period.

NEWS NOTES FROM MOVIELAND (Tribute to a Lovely Lady--Part 1)
Thelma Todd in Her Own Words
Compiled by William M. Drew

On working with comedians: "The woman who works with such comedians as
the Marx Brothers must take all situations seriously. No matter what
happens, her characterization does not permit her to laugh. The Marxes
often insert comedy we haven't rehearsed, which is one of the reasons
for their success. I've had to train myself not to see anything funny
in these spontaneous bits, but I have spoiled many a scene by failing
to suppress my sense of humor. The Marxes, moreover, know my weakness,
and on the set make it a rule to do everything possible to make me
laugh in the wrong places. I've almost bitten off my tongue on
numerous occasions in order to keep a straight face." (From "The
Charleston Gazette," July 31, 1932)

On beauty and acting: "I never heard of a beauty contest winner getting
very far in any other line. I didn't crash the movie gate by way of a
contest, because I was already under contract when I won my title. The
fact that I was Miss Massachusetts had nothing to do with it.
"Building on beauty seems to me the worst thing any girl can do. I
like real people who are sincerely what they appear to me, and since I
am not unique, I believe that most people rate sincerity above looks.
"Did you ever see an emotional scene that really moved you wherein
the actress remained beautiful? No, and neither did I. People aren't
beautiful under the stress of terror or grief or pain. Such scenes
only get over when the actress forgets how she looks and simply feels
the emotion and so reflects it.
"When I first went into pictures, during the old, silent days, my
part called for me to cry. My father, whom I had idolized, had died
and left me to face the world alone.
"'Have you ever done a crying scene?'" my director asked me.
"I never had, and I hadn't wept over my own woes for several years
before that.
"'You'd better go off by yourself and work it up,'" he advised.
"While I was sitting in a corner of the stage, thinking about the
utter desolation of the girl I was to portray, the star of the picture
came up to me.
"'Haven't you ever had a little puppy dog who died, or a kitten who
was killed, or even a relative you loved very much who was taken away?'
he inquired.
"'I don't know--what's that got to do with it?'" I returned.
"'Why, you think of that loss and presently you feel like crying,'
he explained.
"I stared at him. I thought, 'I don't belong in the business if
that's the way you cry!' So I said, 'What's the matter with believing
in what you are doing? If I believe in the girl, I ought to be able to
cry over her grief, not drag in a puppy dog.'
"I went into the room and cried steadily from 10 in the morning
until 6:30 that night, when I was so exhausted with emotion that I had
to be helped out of the studio." (From "Why Beauty Contest Winners are
Failures," interview with Thelma Todd by Alice L. Tildesley, "The
Oakland Tribune," November 1, 1931)

On sincerity and speech: "Sincerity shows in voices even more than it
does in looks. I'm fortunate in coming from a part of the country
where women's voices are usually low pitched and rather sweet, and
where we naturally use good diction. I've never had a voice lesson in
my life and have no intention of taking any. But I watch my voice more
carefully than I watch my facial expression.
"People used to say that truth could be seen in a person's eyes, but
I know that I could look anyone in the face and tell the biggest kind
of a lie without a blink. It's the voice that betrays you.
Spontaneous sincerity is the necessary thing." (From "Why Beauty
Contest Winners are Failures")

On personality, hair color and independence: "I think I must have a
brunette personality. I always think of blondes as soft and pliable,
ready to cling to the nearest male for support and protection, just
wanting to be taken care of and very sweet and easy to deal with
because they are so amiable. None of which qualities belong to me.
"I am a fighter. I have made my way alone and can stand up for
myself. I think I am the sort of person who can take a great deal from
one I care for and forget it, but there is a limit; beyond that, and
it's all over. You see, I'm not a real blonde inside or I'd be
steadfast under any circumstances. No brunette was ever a doormat.
"Anita Loos is to blame for all the fair heads you see bobbing
about. She said that gentlemen preferred blondes and girls took her
"It's silly, but it's true that complexions and hair follow the
current fashion. In earlier days all our vamps were raven-tressed:
Theda Bara, Barbara La Marr, Nita Naldi. The little girls with golden
curls were all so sweet and good.
"Then along came the redheads. Clara Bow, Margaret Livingston and
Alice White, among others. You thought of red-headed women as
skyrockets. They were incalculable and therefore interesting.
"They even made Greta Garbo a redhead in her first picture. Which
was a crime. Her personality is anything but red-headed.
"Then they got tired of flaming hair. Alice White became blonde
and so did Margaret Livingston, let alone Bebe Daniels, Joan Crawford,
and now even Clara Bow.
"The blonde hussy and the blonde heroine are reigning side by
side--for the moment, anyway." (From "Why Beauty Contest Winners are

On her beginnings in films: "I didn't take pictures seriously at first.
Shortly after I signed my contract the studio told me they were
putting me into the Paramount school. They needed a group of
youngsters and I hadn't been cast for a production, so they thought I
might as well go to school.
"I was the black sheep of the class. My teachers thought me quite
terrible and I agreed with them. But I considered the class silly and
the things they had to do a waste of time. In the class picture they
had Buddy Rogers doing a graybeard and me an old lady--parts we'd never
be allowed to do on the screen. I still think they should have cast us
all as extras and let us work up into bits and then parts. Actual
experience is real. The other was unreal. I rebelled.
"When I came to Hollywood I saw that fooling around was no way to
stay in pictures. It took me a while to make up my mind to work, but
now I'm determined to learn my job and get somewhere. Watch me."
(From "Why Beauty Contest Winners are Failures")

On her dramatic lead under the name of Alison Loyd in Roland West's
1931 film, "Corsair": "I have always wanted to play dramatic roles.
But you know how it is 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 a chance 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." (From "How Thelma Became a New
Woman" by Dan Thomas, "The Helena Independent," October 11, 1931)

On working at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer: "Having played in slapstick comedy
for so long, I walked into the studio with a large chip on my shoulder,
just waiting for a fight; I hoped someone would make some sort of
remark about my comedy days, but--probably to my
disappointment!--everyone was charming to me. They're a grand bunch,
and I like them all here, although, of course, the little Roach studio
is swell. We are like a large family there--without the family
squabbles!" (From "Please, Teacher!," an interview with Thelma by John
Paddy Carstairs, published in the British magazine, "Film Pictorial,"
September 10, 1932)

On Hollywood: "I think the picture game is grand. I love it, but there
are some queer people in it--and some funny ones, too. But if you get
used to Hollywood, you kid them along, and pretend that you are a
little dumber than you actually are--as a matter of fact, you have to
be pretty smart in this business.
"One thing they tried on me was to come up with a sarcastic smile
and say: 'Well, Miss Todd, we are working late tonight!' Then they
used to wait and see my face drop. Instead I would say, 'All right,
that's fine!' They know how disappointed most artistes are if they
have to work late, but I don't mind in the least. After all, I get
paid for it and it's my job, so what the heck?" (From the "Film
Pictorial" interview, "Please, Teacher!")

On comedy vs. drama: "When I first started out on the screen I played
serious leads. Then I did comedy with the Four Marx Brothers and
haven't been permitted since to play anything but comedy in Hollywood.
I did play straight roles in England last spring and discovered it's
much more difficult to make an audience laugh than to cry. So perhaps
I'd better be content with my burlesque roles. I want to change but
the public won't let a comedienne change." (From "The Hammond Times,"
February 21, 1934)


Saturday, June 12, 2021

Thelma Todd Scrapbook


A scrapbook of  Thelma Todd photos, which was on an online auction site.

 Left: Thelma Todd wasn't a Ziegfeld girl.  Right: Carole Lombard photo isn't Thelma Todd.


FILM FAN MONTHLY ( left ) was a fanzine Leonard Maltin had in the 1960's.  The picture on the right is another copy of the picture on the first page of this scrapbook. .

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Thelma Todd At Movie Premiere In 1929


Silent film footage of The Broadway Melody and The Divine Lady movie premieres in 1929. A list of stars who appear is below the video, and also a link to the scene with Thelma Todd. 



Silent footage of movie premieres for The Broadway Melody (Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, February 1, 1929) and The Divine Lady (Cathay Circle Theatre, Los Angeles, January 29, 1929). Synopsis: Hollywood film stars arriving for the premieres. Footage includes: Al Jolson and Ruby Keeler, Rita Carewe and LeRoy Mason, Peggy Hamilton, Alice White, Frank Lloyd, Hoot Gibson and Sally Eilers, June Collyer, Anita Stewart, Milton Sills, Conrad Nagel, Claire Windsor, Doris Kenny, Grant Withers, Louise Dresser, Vera Gordon, Sue Carol, Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Edna Murphy and Mervyn LeRoy, Jean Hersholt, Julia Fay, Ruth Roland and Ben Bard (Ben Lyon appears behind them), Laura La Plante and Jack Mulhall, Dorothy Mackaill, George Fitzmaurice, Bebe Daniels, Richard Barthelmess, Doris Dawson, Colleen Moore and her brother, Andres de Segurola ("Count Segurola"), Al St. John, Walter Hires, Joe E. Brown, Mary Pickford, Marion Davies (with William Randolph Hearst in the background), Howard Strickling (briefly in the background), Vera Reynolds, Josephine Dunn, Sophie Tucker, Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, Louis B. Mayer with wife and daughters (Edith and Irene), Louise Fazenda, Mary Doran, Lili Damita, Robert Z. Leonard, Kathleen Carver and Adolphe Menjou, Renee Adoree, Billie Dove, Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon, Lupe Velez and Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Edward Nugent, Jed Prouty, Norma Shearer, Carmel Myers, James Gleason, Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis, Anita Page, Conrad Nagel, Gloria Swanson (Howard Strickling moves to mic) and Edmund Goulding, Bessie Love (Howard Strickling assists her), Montagu Love, John Gilbert and Virginia Cherrill, Charley Chase, John Darrow, Nick Steward? (not correct name), Sue Carol, Colleen Moore and John McCormick, Fred Niblo, Corrine Griffith, Thelma Todd, Loretta Young with Doris Dawson and Grant Withers, and Norma Shearer with Irving Thalberg

Thelma Todd is at 12:14