Thelma Todd

Thelma Todd (July 29, 1905 - December 16, 1935) was a American film actress.

Thelma Todd

Todd was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts and as a child was a bright student who achieved good academic results. She intended to become a school teacher but in her late teens began entering beauty pageants winning the title of "Miss Massachusetts" in 1925. While representing her home state in the "Miss America" pageant later that year she was spotted by a Hollywood talent scout and began her career in film.

During the silent era, she appeared in numerous supporting roles that made full use of her beauty but gave her little chance to act. With the advent of the talkies, Todd was given opportunity to expand her roles by the producer Hal Roach who contracted her to appear with such comedic stars of the day as Harry Langdon, Laurel & Hardy and The Marx Brothers and she appeared as the lead actress in a series of comedy films with actresses Zasu Pitts and Patsy Kelly. She became highly regarded as a capable film comedienne and also appeared successfully in such dramas as the original 1931 film version of The Maltese Falcon. During her career she appeared in more than 130 films and was publicised as "The Ice Cream Blonde" and "Hot Toddy".

In the early 30's she commenced a successful commercial venture when she opened a cafe at Pacific Palisades called "Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Cafe" which attracted a diverse clientele of Hollywood celebrities as well as gangsters and criminals.

On the morning of December 16, 1935, she was found dead in her car inside her garage and her death was determined to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Police investigating her death determined that Todd had a wide circle of friends and associates and a busy social life. She had spent the last night of her life at a party hosted by entertainer Stanley Lupino and his daughter, the actress Ida Lupino. She had been involved in an argument with her then boyfriend Roland West, but her friends stated that she was in good spirits and were aware of nothing unusual in her life that could suggest a reason for committing suicide.

Police were offered other alternatives throughout their investigations. One theory suggested that the gangster Lucky Luciano had tried unsuccessfully to coerce Todd into allowing gambling on her premises, and when she declared that would happen "over my dead body" had replied that he could arrange that. When Todd's body was found she had blood on her face and her nose was broken. This was the only sign of violence and there was no evidence of any struggle taking place. The investigation was unable to establish any evidence to support this theory.

A second theory widely supported by Todd's friends was that Roland West had grown frustrated by Todd's flightiness and to keep her from leaving her premises to attend another party had locked her in the garage. Her resulting death according to this theory was accidental, however a key, which would have allowed her to escape was found in Todd's handbag.

A third theory was that Todd had turned on the motor of the car in order to keep warm, and had fallen asleep. Roland West had closed the door to the garage without realising Todd was inside and she had died as a result.

The Los Angeles DA's department and a Grand Jury were unable to establish the true circumstances surrounding her death and the conjecture that surrounded it at the time and which has never been resolved with a definitive explanation is an early example of what would become known as a conspiracy theory with rumours and suppositions being accepted as fact, and widely divergent opinions being given credence. The fact that her body was cremated caused theorists to conjecture that this had been done to destroy evidence and to prevent a second autopsy, however by this time authorities were satisfied with her official cause of death.

Her death certificate states her cause of death as accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Her remains were buried in "Bellevue Cemetery" in her hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Thelma Todd has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6262 Hollywood Blvd.


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Thelma Todd has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6262 Hollywood Blvd. Esther Williams retired from acting in the early 1960s. Her remains were buried in "Bellevue Cemetery" in her hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Her brother, Stanton Williams, also had a brief acting career during the 1920s before his death while still a teenager. Her death certificate states her cause of death as accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Her third husband was actor Fernando Lamas. The fact that her body was cremated caused theorists to conjecture that this had been done to destroy evidence and to prevent a second autopsy, however by this time authorities were satisfied with her official cause of death. She was romantically linked with Jeff Chandler, and has been married four times.

The Los Angeles DA's department and a Grand Jury were unable to establish the true circumstances surrounding her death and the conjecture that surrounded it at the time and which has never been resolved with a definitive explanation is an early example of what would become known as a conspiracy theory with rumours and suppositions being accepted as fact, and widely divergent opinions being given credence. Her love life was a source of media interest. Roland West had closed the door to the garage without realising Todd was inside and she had died as a result. In her autobiography, Williams details several other occasions in which she nearly drowned shooting her oxygen-defying stunts. A third theory was that Todd had turned on the motor of the car in order to keep warm, and had fallen asleep. Her many hours spent submerged resulted in her rupturing her eardrums numerous times. Her resulting death according to this theory was accidental, however a key, which would have allowed her to escape was found in Todd's handbag. She broke her neck filming a 50-foot dive off a tower during a climactic musical number for the 1952 release Million Dollar Mermaid which landed her in a body cast for six months (she subsequently recovered though she still suffers headaches as a result of the accident).

A second theory widely supported by Todd's friends was that Roland West had grown frustrated by Todd's flightiness and to keep her from leaving her premises to attend another party had locked her in the garage. Many of her films, such as Million Dollar Mermaid and Jupiter's Darling, contained elaborately staged swimming scenes, obtained not without physical cost to the performer. The investigation was unable to establish any evidence to support this theory. Williams instead went to Hollywood, and quickly became a popular star of the 1940s and 1950s. This was the only sign of violence and there was no evidence of any struggle taking place. She qualified to be in the United States swim team in the 1940 Olympics, but the games were canceled due to World War II. When Todd's body was found she had blood on her face and her nose was broken. Esther Williams was born in Inglewood, California, and was enthusistic about swimming from her youth.

One theory suggested that the gangster Lucky Luciano had tried unsuccessfully to coerce Todd into allowing gambling on her premises, and when she declared that would happen "over my dead body" had replied that he could arrange that. Esther Jane Williams (born 8 August 1922) is a United States swimmer and movie star. Police were offered other alternatives throughout their investigations. Williams, Esther, The Million Dollar Mermaid: An Autobiography, Simon & Schuster, 1999. She had been involved in an argument with her then boyfriend Roland West, but her friends stated that she was in good spirits and were aware of nothing unusual in her life that could suggest a reason for committing suicide. She had spent the last night of her life at a party hosted by entertainer Stanley Lupino and his daughter, the actress Ida Lupino.

Police investigating her death determined that Todd had a wide circle of friends and associates and a busy social life. On the morning of December 16, 1935, she was found dead in her car inside her garage and her death was determined to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. In the early 30's she commenced a successful commercial venture when she opened a cafe at Pacific Palisades called "Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Cafe" which attracted a diverse clientele of Hollywood celebrities as well as gangsters and criminals. During her career she appeared in more than 130 films and was publicised as "The Ice Cream Blonde" and "Hot Toddy".

She became highly regarded as a capable film comedienne and also appeared successfully in such dramas as the original 1931 film version of The Maltese Falcon. With the advent of the talkies, Todd was given opportunity to expand her roles by the producer Hal Roach who contracted her to appear with such comedic stars of the day as Harry Langdon, Laurel & Hardy and The Marx Brothers and she appeared as the lead actress in a series of comedy films with actresses Zasu Pitts and Patsy Kelly. During the silent era, she appeared in numerous supporting roles that made full use of her beauty but gave her little chance to act. While representing her home state in the "Miss America" pageant later that year she was spotted by a Hollywood talent scout and began her career in film.

She intended to become a school teacher but in her late teens began entering beauty pageants winning the title of "Miss Massachusetts" in 1925. Todd was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts and as a child was a bright student who achieved good academic results. Thelma Todd (July 29, 1905 - December 16, 1935) was a American film actress.

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