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William Desmond Taylor


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For many years, I've been fascinated by the 1922 unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor. This story, I think even today, would still make a fascinating movie.

 

For anyone who is not familiar with the case, the handsome director was shot once in the back and killed in his exclusive Alvarado Street Bungalow. Some of the people who were considered suspects or just happened to be involved with William Desmond Taylor include Mabel Normand, Mary Miles Minter and Margaret Gibson a.k.a. Patricia Palmer (mother of Debra Paget). To this day, the case remains perplexing and has never been solved.

 

Taylor directed Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer and Anne of Green Gables. He was also an actor whose most popular film was probably Captain Alvarez (1914).

 

I've written detailed summaries of the theories of the Taylor case. If you're interested, please visit my web page at

 

http://www.classichollywoodbios.com/WilliamDesmondTaylor.htm

 

I hope TCM will someday show some of the film Taylor acted in as well as directed.

 

Dina-Marie

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this case also has fascinated me, especially with the involvements of Mary Miles Minter and the great Mabel Normand. Of course the final irony may be that while both actresses were erroneously implicated (Normand wasn't even in town) and had their careers ruined, Taylor was a secret but notorious homosexual.... It's still generally accepted that Minter's controlling stage mother Charlotte was the likely culprit.

 

I agree it would make a nifty film....

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There's a book called "A Cast Of Killers" written by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick, who catalogued King Vidor's literary estate after his death. He found notes hidden by King Vidor in a strong box concealed in his garage that offer the definitive version of who killed William Desmond Taylor. King Vidor went to his death believing he had solved the crime and hid his findings because there were still persons alive who would have been hurt if he had gone public. Even Kirkpatrick waited years before publishing the hidden documents.

 

Apparently, Vidor was fascinated by the mystery, knew virtually all of the players, and had originally intended to film the case as a mystery. He finally decided against it making it into a film when he discovered who the killer really was.

 

But I won't tell....

 

Roy

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I just heard that Mary Miles Minter YouTube 1970 audio tape. Bizarre, fascinating.

 

"They crucified my mate".

 

"Sometimes you think people are dead, but they really aren't."

 

Norma Desmond has nothing on Mary.

 

EVERYONE - CHECK THIS LINK OUT!!!

 

Message was edited by: Bronxgirl48

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I have the You Tube link to the audio interview of Mary Miles Minter at the bottom of my Taylor webpage at

 

http://www.classichollywoodbios.com/WilliamDesmondTaylor.htm

 

and also the You Tube link to 12 Silent Film Stars involved in the William Desmond Taylor Case and a 10 minute film from 1914 entitled The Kiss with Margaret Gibson and William Desmond Taylor. These videos are all worth watching.

 

The Mary Miles Minter audio tape is most definitely bizarre. That tape is from Charles Higham who wrote the book called Murder in Hollywood: Solving a Silent Film Mystery. It was amazing to actually hear her voice. You're right BronxGirl48, Minter had nothing on Norma Desmond! By the way, in the film Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder took the name "Desmond" from William Desmond Taylor and the name "Norma" from Mabel Normand to make up the character name of "Norma Desmond".

 

There have actually been three books which explore three different theories: Murder In Hollywood, Cast of Killers and A Deed of Death. When I first read Cast of Killers, I thought it was solved. After reading the other two books, I'm not so sure.

 

I've written detailed summaries of all three theories and one more...the 1964 deathbed confession of silent film actress Margaret Gibson. That one really came out of left field. She wasn't even mentioned as a suspect at the time but had worked with Taylor both on stage and in silent films. If you want to find out more, please check out my website.

 

Take care...

 

Dina-Marie

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Thanks a million, Dina, for that WONDERFUL information -- it's just mesmerizing!

 

I did not know that about the origins of the name Norma Desmond -- this is all too fascinating, I just love a good mystery, and this certainly was it!

 

I'll most definitely check out your website.

 

Thanks,

 

Bronxgirl

 

Message was edited by: Bronxgirl48

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it seems I read a book about the murder decades ago but I ordered the book mentioned below anyway...... Minter was big for a while as a Mary Pickford knock-off. But the ruination of Mabel Normand's career because of her "association" with Taylor was truly tragic. Normand's first feature film released after this scandal, THE EXTRA GIRL, was boycotted across the country and failed. It's a superb comedy with Normand at her comic peak. I think we're lucky this film has survived in pristine condition, and it's certainly worth a look.

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Mabel Normand was the screen's first comedienne and is often overlooked today, which is a crime in itself. From what little I've seen of her work, the lady had great talent.

 

I'd love to see THE EXTRA GIRL. Was that the one with the lion chasing her?

 

Message was edited by: Bronxgirl48

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