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! :)


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