So, how much did you know about this remarkable talent of the late Twenties and early-to-mid Thirties? We hope that our Monday Quiz (see the questions by scrolling down to the blog below) sparked interest in Thelma Todd, and her suspicious demise.
For much more on this subject, we refer you to a highly recommended new book — The Ice Cream Blond: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death Of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd by Michelle Morgan (Chicago Review Press). You’ll learn much about Todd’s career as a highly prized Hollywood oddity — a beautiful woman who was also an accomplished comedienne — and about her untimely death.
Todd was pretty (see above), smart, had her head screwed on properly and was invariably beloved by her coworkers. She was a remarkable businesswoman whose moral integrity and backbone may well have led to her undoing. This is Hollywood, after all.
Ok, let’s get to the answers to our Thelma Todd Quiz.
1) Answer: As suggested in our intro, the answers here are c) and d). Todd was an altogether attractive personality who could make people laugh.
2) Answer: Before committing to an acting career, a young Thelma seriously considered a career as a d) school teacher.
3) Answer: Todd made countless comedy shorts with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, and had principal parts in 1931’s Monkey Business and 1932’s Horse Feathers, both Marx Brothers vehicles.
4) Answer: d) Jesse Lasky, first v.p. of the Famous Players-Lasky Corp., organized in 1925 the first class of the Paramount Pictures School, intended to supply talent to the robust silent movie business. Thelma was chosen as a “student” and at age 20 made her film debut in 1926’s Fascinating Youth, designed to showcase School talent.
5) Answer: b) Todd was a successful restauranteur, co-owner of Thelma Todd’s Inn (aka the Sidewalk Cafe) located on California Pacific Coast Highway about three miles north of Santa Monica. The eatery was a huge success, and attracted the attention of unsavory mob figures interested interests eager to inject gambling into the operation. Todd’s dead body was found in a hillside garage near the Inn.
6) Answer: a) ZaSu Pitts, the famous actress-comedienne established great personal and professional rapport with partner Todd. The two costarred in many successful shorts produced by Hal Roach.
7) Answer: b) Pat DiCicco, a shadowy Hollywood figure with mob ambitions. He and Todd married in 1932 and divorced two years later.
8) Answer: a) and b), that is, Todd’s death was initially attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning and ruled a suicide. The mystery surrounding her demise is nicely unraveled in author Michelle Morgan’s book.
9) Answer: a) Todd was in the original cast of Howard Hughes’ mega production of 1930’s Hell’s Angels, but was eventually left on the cutting room floor. Jean Harlow made the final cut and went on to stardom.
10) Answer: a) True. Todd costarred with British actor Stanley Lupino (father of Ida) in 1933’s You Made Me Love You. Thelma considered the comedy, filmed at Elstree Studios north of London, her best movie.