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William Desmond Taylor


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Do you know the exact name of the documentary you saw? I would like to look it up on TiVo and maybe try and catch another viewing of it.

 

I have read a little bit about his murder, but only in passing - chiefly in the biographies I've read on Rudolph Valentino and Charlie Chaplin, who of course were in Hollywood at the time.

 

Desmond's murder is usually mentioned in the shortlist of 'scandals' that plagued Hollywood during that period...along with the Fatty Arbuckle thing....and I am most interested in learning more about that entire period.

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pktrekgirl, it was called Perfect Crimes? and was on here in Westchester's Cablevision at 10:00am on the History Channel. It's main profile seemed to be Stella Nickel, with William Taylor a second feature. Fortunately, I caught the last part. It seems his murder went unsolved.

 

Cablevision shows it again scheduled at 4:00pm today -- enjoy!

 

dolores

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Hi dolores,

 

I recommend you find a copy of director King Vidor's book "Cast of Killers." He tells the story of the Wm. Desmond Taylor murder, and purports to solve it. It's a good book, whether or not you agree with the conclusion.

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Thanks, stoneyburke! Unfortunately, I am not at home this afternoon...but now that I have the name of the show, I will look through the listings on TiVo and see if it is coming up again.

 

I just *love* 1920's Hollywood and am interested in just about anything related to it!

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Thanks, jdb1. It sounds a very convoluted little murder, much like George Reeve's all those years later. No, I just don't believe he committed suicide.

 

You're welcome, pktrekgirl. I just watched it again, and he was dashing. Irish good looks, I believe, piercing blue eyes. LOL, he looked like trouble to me. Shame he and Mabel Normand and the young Minter girl and her mother all became wrapped up in such tragedy...I imagine no one will really know what was behind it all.

 

dolores

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I recommend you find a copy of director King Vidor's book "Cast of Killers." He tells the story of the Wm. Desmond Taylor murder, and purports to solve it. It's a good book, whether or not you agree with the conclusion.>>

 

Judith,

 

Cast of Killers is a great read. One small quibble, it was written by Sidney Kilpatrick, not King Vidor. Kilpatrick, if I recall correctly, befriended Vidor in his later years (and would become the authorized biographer of Vidor's life), and Vidor shared all his material with Kilpatrick.

 

As a young director in Hollywood in the 1920s, Vidor was quite interested in the unsolved murder of Taylor and sought out all the info he could on all the talk, gossip, facts and legends of the case. Vidor had hoped to make a movie of it one day. Though the movie never came to pass, he hung on to all the research he did.

 

A wonderful sidebar of the book is the love story of Colleen Moore and Vidor. They were in love but one was always with another partner when the other was free. But all those years later, they still carried a torch for one another.

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I watched a show about this on the Biography channel a couple of weeks ago and it seemed to me that maybe Taylor was murdered by a fellow veteran of WW 1 that was an employee for a time. But by the time the police found him, he was dead. It seems to me that the police wanted it to be more sensational than it actually was, and to try to pin it on one of the actresses he was friends with or Minter's mother because it came on the heels of the Arbuckle trial and some tabloids (I'm looking at you William Randolph Hearst) wanted to blame all the ills of the world on Hollywood. Sounds familiar doesn't it.

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Well, it was probably not *just* to sell newspapers...although that was certainly the major driver.

 

Hearst was fairly intense about his belief that the Hollywood movie colony was pretty much a den of sin and debauchery.

 

In fact, the way I found out about Taylor's murder in the books about Valentino and Chaplin is that it was mentioned as an example of a huge scandal - the sort of scandal that Valentino had hoped to avoid during his wedding to Rambova in Mexico (he was still married to Jean Acker according to U.S. law and he thought he could circumvent the 'waiting period' by marrying in Mexico); and the sort of scandal that Chaplin was hoping to avoid during his various liasons with younger women.

 

The implication, in both of these cases, is that the papers (i.e. Hearst) were just REALLY brutal toward any perceived moral misstep by any of the Hollywood stars.

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Dolores,

 

An interesting side story to this is:

In 1962, Warner Bros. wanted Mary Miles Minter to play the Baby Jane role in "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane". Wouldn't that have been a hoot!!

I understand she actually looked like Jane Hudson and Bette Davis must have copied her....

 

Larry

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> Dolores,

>

> An interesting side story to this is:

> In 1962, Warner Bros. wanted Mary Miles Minter to

> play the Baby Jane role in "Whatever Happened To Baby

> Jane". Wouldn't that have been a hoot!!

> I understand she actually looked like Jane Hudson and

> Bette Davis must have copied her....

>

> Larry

 

Larry,

 

Several years ago, someone gave me a pretty pewter picture frame, the photo that came with it is MMM, looking about age 16 or so. I've kept it just as it is because I like the photo - sausage curls, silk ribbons, demure expression, etc.

 

After having read "Cast of Killers," I know that photo was great acting on her part.

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Hi Judith,

 

When I lived in Malibu, someone told me that MMMlived about 15 houses up the road in seclusion.

One day, Freddie May (one of Lana's husbands) & I decided to hike over and try to find her. No such luck.

Then, about 2 months later came this publicity statement from Warners about her playing 'Baby Jane' and it stated she was a recluse now living in Santa Monica!!

Stupid us, we were in the wrong neighbourhood!!!!

 

Larry

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Dolores,

 

I've read the first four chapters of the Taylor link...I'll get to the rest later. Thinking about the subject, I have a copy of that compendium of trash, "Hollywood Babylon". I bet the William Taylor story is included. I remember the Wallace Reid story is included in "Hollywood Babylon". I remember the Reid story because of a quote attributed to Reid's wife, "they just put him (Reid) to sleep"...referring to Reid's death in his "get off the dope" hospital.

 

The reason for my message is one quibble regarding the Taylor story. The quote, "Taylor was close to the actress Mabel Normand and, for good reason, deeply concerned about her...In either case, Normand, like so many people in Hollywood in the post-World War I era, had experimented with mood altering drugs. She became addicted, and Taylor wanted to help her kick the habit." The word "Hollywood" should be replaced by "America". The first few decades of the twentieth century, addiction to morphine and its chemical analogs was very common in the United States. After all, until [you insert year here...I'm not going to look up the date] opiates were legal. Morphine was easily obtained through prescription...remember the mother character in "Long Days Journey Through Night"? That sort of thing.

 

Okay. I know, "...I hear there's a nit pickers convention..."

 

Rusty

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