Saturday, April 29, 2017

Thelma Todd

Date of Birth
29 July 1906Lawrence, Massachusetts, USA
Date of Death16 December 1935Pacific Palisades, California, USA  (carbon monoxide poisoning)
NicknamesThe Ice Cream Blonde
Hot Toddy
Height5' 4" (1.63 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Thelma Todd was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, an industrial city near the New Hampshire state line. She was a lovely child with good academic tendencies, so much so that she decided early on to become a schoolteacher. After high school she went on to college but at her mother's insistence entered several beauty contests (apparently her mother wanted her to be more than just a "schoolmarm"). Thelma was so successful in these endeavors that she entered on the state level and won the title of "Miss Massachusetts" in 1925 and went on to the "Miss America" pageant. Although she didn't win, the pageant afforded her a chance to be seen been by talent scouts looking for fresh new faces to showcase in films. She began appearing in one- and two-reel shorts, mostly comedy, which showcased her keen comic timing and aptitude for physical comedy (unusual in such a beautiful woman). She had been making shorts for Hal Roach when she was signed to Paramount Pictures. Her first film--at 21 years of age--was as Lorraine Lane in 1927's Fascinating Youth (1926), a romantic comedy, which was Paramount's showcase vehicle for its new stars. Thelma received minor billing in another film that year, God Gave Me Twenty Cents (1926). The next year she starred with Gary Cooper and William Powell in the western Nevada (1927). That year also saw her in three more films, with The Gay Defender (1927) being the most notable. It starred Richard Dix in the role of a man falsely accused of murder.

As the 1920s closed, Thelma began getting parts in more and more films. In 1928 and 1929 alone she was featured in 20 pictures, and not just comedies--she also did dramas and gothic horror films. Unlike many silent-era stars whose voices didn't fit their image or screen persona, Thelma's did. She had a bright, breezy, clear voice with a pleasant trace of a somewhat aristocratic, but not snobbish, New England accent and easily made the transition to sound films. In 1930 she added 14 more pictures to her resume, with Dollar Dizzy (1930) and Follow Thru (1930) being the most notable. The latter was a musical with Thelma playing a rival to Nancy Carroll for the affections of Buddy Rogers. It was a box-office hit, as was the stage production on which it was based. The following year Thelma appeared in 14 more films, among them Let's Do Things (1931), Speak Easily (1932), The Old Bull (1932) and On the Loose (1931). Her most successful film that year, however, was the Marx Brothers farce Monkey Business (1931). While critics gave the film mixed reviews, the public loved it. In 1932 Thelma appeared in another Marx Brothers film directed by Norman Z. McLeodHorse Feathers (1932). She also starred in This Is the Night (1932), a profitable film which featured Cary Grant in his first major role. In 1934 Thelma made 16 features, but her career would soon soon come to a grinding halt. In 1935 she appeared in such films as Twin Triplets (1935) and The Misses Stooge (1935), all showcasing her considerable comic talents. She also proved to be a savvy businesswoman with the opening of "Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Cafe," a nightclub/restaurant that catered to show business people. It also, unfortunately, attracted some shady underworld types as well, and there were rumors that they were trying to take over her club and use it as a gambling establishment in order to fleece the wealthy Hollywood crowd. According to these stories, Thelma and her boyfriend, director Roland West, wouldn't sell their establishment once they found out what the gangsters had in mind, thereby incurring the enmity of people it was not a good idea to become enemies of. Whether the stories were true or not, on December 16, 1935, Thelma was found dead in her car in her garage in Los Angeles. Her death was ruled a suicide owing to carbon monoxide poisoning. She was only 29 years old. At the time, as today, many felt that her death was actually a murder connected to the goings-on at her club, a theory that was lent credence by the fact that no one who knew her had ever seen her depressed or morose enough to worry about her committing suicide. Another factor that aroused suspicion was that her death was given a cursory investigation by the--at the time--notoriously corrupt Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office and the case was quickly and unceremoniously closed. Her death has remained a controversial one even to this day.

Three films she made before her death weren't released until the following year: Hot Money (1936), An All American Toothache (1936), and The Bohemian Girl (1936). The latter saw her quite substantial role cut down so much that she was barely glimpsed in the picture. Thelma had made an amazing 115 films in such a short career, and her beauty and talent would no doubt have taken her right to the top if it hadn't been for her untimely demise.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson
A one-time teacher and beauty queen, Thelma went to Hollywood in the late 1920s and soon became one of the premier comediennes of her day, with many appearances in comedy shorts (with Zasu PittsPatsy KellyStan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, and others) and also feature-length movies. In the 1930s, she began to turn more attention to running a restaurant, "Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Cafe." Many thought her 1935 death to be murder and there was no shortage of suspects, but subsequent investigations by the DA's office and a grand jury failed to find an answer that satisfied.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ken Yousten <>

Spouse (1)

Pat DiCicco(18 July 1932 - 2 March 1934) (divorced)

Trade Mark (1)

Her beauty mark

Trivia (7)

Miss Massachusetts 1925.
Parents were John and Alice Todd.
Profiled in the book "Funny Ladies" by Stephen M. Silverman (1999).
Following her untimely death, she was interred at Bellevue Cemetery in her hometown Lawrence, Massachusetts.
In 1952, on his deathbed, Thelma's boyfriend Roland West confessed to his friend Chester Morris that he was the one who actually murdered Thelma.
She was posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6262 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.

In 1935 she had a pet pit bull dog named "Nibs".

Actress (119 credits)
 1935Top Flat (Short)
Thelma Todd
 1935Hot Money (Short)
Miss Thelma Todd
 1935Twin Triplets (Short) 
 1935Slightly Static (Short)
 1935Two for Tonight
 1935After the Dance
Mabel Kane
 1935The Tin Man (Short)
Thelma Todd
 1935Treasure Blues (Short)
Thelma Todd
 1934Bum Voyage (Short)
 1934Done in Oil (Short)
Thelma Todd
 1934Opened by Mistake (Short)
 1934Take the Stand
Miss Sally Oxford
 1934One-Horse Farmers (Short)
 1934Cockeyed Cavaliers
Lady Genevieve
 1934Maid in Hollywood (Short)
 1934Bottoms Up
Judith Marlowe
 1934The Poor Rich
Gwendolyn Fetherstone
 1934Hips, Hips, Hooray!
Miss Frisby
 1933Air Fright (Short)
 1933Son of a Sailor
The Baroness
 1933Sitting Pretty
Gloria Duval
 1933Backs to Nature (Short)
 1933Beauty and the Bus (Short)
 1933You Made Me Love You
Pamela Berne
 1933Mary Stevens, M.D.
 1933One Track Minds (Short) 
 1933The Devil's Brother
Lady Pamela
 1933Cheating Blondes
Anne Merrick / Elaine Manners
 1933Maids a la Mode (Short)
Miss Todd
 1933Asleep in the Feet (Short)
 1933Air Hostess
Mrs. Sylvia C. Carleton
 1932Call Her Savage
Sunny De Lane
Lola Del Mont
 1932The Soilers (Short)
 1932Alum and Eve (Short)
 1932Show Business (Short)
 1932Speak Easily
Eleanor Espere
 1932The Old Bull (Short)
 1932This Is the Night
Claire Mathewson
 1932Red Noses (Short)
Miss Todd
 1932The Big Timer
Kay Mitchell
 1932Sealskins (Short)
Thelma Todd
 1931On the Loose (Short)
Thelma Todd
Alison Corning (as Alison Loyd)
 1931War Mamas (Short)
 1931The Pajama Party (Short)
 1931Monkey Business
 1931Catch-As Catch-Can (Short)
Gertie Gardner
Winifred Bradford
 1931Rough Seas (Short)
 1931Love Fever (Short)
Thelma Todd
 1931The Hot Heiress
 1931Swanee River
 1931Chickens Come Home- (Short)
Mrs. Hardy (uncredited)
 1931Command Performance
 1931No Limit
Betty Royce
 1930High C's (Short)
 1930Another Fine Mess (Short)
Lady Plumtree (uncredited)
 1930Looser Than Loose (Short)
Thelma, Charley's Fiancee (uncredited)
 1930Dollar Dizzy (Short)
Thelma Todd (uncredited)
 1930Follow Thru
Ruth Van Horn
 1930Her Man
 1930The King (Short)
The Queen
 1930¡Pobre infeliz! (Short) 
 1930The Shrimp (Short)
Jim's Girlfriend
 1930All Teed Up (Short)
 1930The Fighting Parson (Short)
The Blonde Dance Hall Girl
 1930The Real McCoy (Short)
 1930The Head Guy (Short)
The Star
 1929Stepping Out (Short) 
 1929Sky Boy (Short) 
 1929Crazy Feet (Short)
 1929Her Private Life
Mrs. Leslie
 1929Look Out Below (Short)
 1929Hotter Than Hot (Short) 
 1929Snappy Sneezer (Short)
Mary White
 1929The Bachelor Girl
 1929/IHurdy Gurdy (Short)
 1929Unaccustomed As We Are (Short)
Mrs. Kennedy
 1929Trial Marriage
Grace Logan
 1928Naughty Baby
Bonnie Le Vonne
 1928The Haunted House
The Nurse
 1928The Crash
Daisy McQueen
 1928Heart to Heart
Ruby Boyd
 1928Vamping Venus
Madame Vanezlos the Dancer / Venus
 1928The Noose
 1927The Gay Defender
Ruth Ainsworth
 1927The Shield of Honor
Rose aka Flora Fisher
 1927Fireman, Save My Child (uncredited)
Hettie Ide
 1927Rubber Heels
Princess Aline
 1926God Gave Me Twenty Cents
Dance-Hall Girl (uncredited)
 1926Fascinating Youth
Lorraine Lane
Streaming Media

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