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Thelma Todd

Real name: Thelma Todd
Birthdate: July 29, 1905
Status: N/A
Partner: N/A

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

The detectives of the LAPD concluded early that her death was accidental, the result of Todd's either warming the car to drive it or to use the heater to keep herself warm. While they never wavered from their view, other theories emerged during several weeks of investigations.

A second 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. (However, West denied going down the road to Jewel Carmen's home).

A third theory postulates she was murdered by New York gangster "Lucky" Luciano because of her refusal to allow him to involve her club with illegal gambling, as well as her refusal to participate in Luciano's group sex orgies. Like the Roland West story, the Lucky Luciano story was in Kenneth Anger's frequently fallacious book Hollywood Babylon. Later it was alleged to be "the true story" in Andy Edmonds' book (and later TV movie) Hot Toddy. It has become the most celebrated of all theories despite the fact that there is no record of Luciano ever visiting Los Angeles, much less having an affair with Todd, or (as in "Hot Toddy") publicly threatening her at the Brown Derby.

The Los Angeles DA's department and a Grand Jury were unable to establish the true circumstances surrounding her death. The conjecture that surrounded it at the time, which has never been resolved, is an early example of what would become known as a conspiracy theory, with rumours and suppositions accepted as fact and widely divergent opinions 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. She was cremated and, after her mother's death, her remains were placed in her mother's casket and buried in Bellevue Cemetery in her hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts.

A line of dialogue in the Marx Brothers film Monkey Business (1931) appears to predict Todd's death. Alone with Todd in her cabin, Groucho Marx quips: "You're a woman who's been getting nothing but dirty breaks. Well, we can clean and tighten those brakes, but you'll have to stay in the garage all night." While the reference is nothing more than a coincidence, it is perceived by many fans as sick and eerie in light of the tragic events that would take place only five years later. Who knew?

Thelma Todd has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6262 Hollywood Blvd.Thelma Todd & Charles K. Gerrard in Another Fine Mess


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