2016: 48. The Ice Cream Blonde

It had been a cold weekend in Los Angeles, with temperatures dipping to twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit, and winds sweeping across the region.

The Ice Cream Blonde, Michelle Morgan

As you’ll see, I went on a bit of a true crime spree at my local library.  This is the story of the mysterious death of Hollywood actress Thelma Todd, who never hit it super big, but started in the silents, and continued on to be a good commedienne - she was in films with the Marx Brothers, Laurel & Hardy, and did a bunch of comic shorts with Zazu Pitts. I watched a few on You Tube and they were reasonably good.  She also opened up a famous Hollywood restuarant called Thelma Todd’s (as an insurance as to when the parts dried up), and it was in the garage of the restaurant (she lived above it) that she was found dead at age 35.  The cause was carbon monoxide poisioning but whether it was an accident, sucide, or murder was never proven. 

It’s a decent read. Sort of the opposite of Elmer McCurdy, the prose is extremely workman-like.  The best parts are the biography stuff - who’d ever heard of Thelma Todd, but her life was pretty interesting (born in Lawrence, Ma., no less!), and while she was usually cast as vamp or a ditz, she had a pretty good head on her shoulders.  The story of her death (which is why I borrowed the book to begin with!) is more rushed, and necessarily inconclusive.  The author leans towards murder, but the case she makes is pretty weak, and there are no real definitive suspects.  Read it if you are interested in Early Hollywood, or actresses, but not if you’re seeking out a good crime story.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017