Visiting the Place Where Thelma Todd Died

Thelma Todd at her cafe. Photo via Indywire

I confess that I hadn’t really been aware of early film star Thelma Todd until I read Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s take on her in “Revelations of the Bat” in Cinema Purgatorio #9.

I live in central Los Angeles, not far from Hollywood. By this I mean the neighborhood Hollywood, which, down from the tony Hollywood Hills, is mostly not so glamorous. A few people I know are involved in “the industry” – the Hollywood film industry – though I can’t claim any ties to it.

It has been interesting reading Moore and O’Neill’s stories in Purgatorio, in part because they take place in the city where I live. A lot of Moore’s work – especially Jerusalem, Voice of the Fire, “Coal Memory“, Providence, and From Hell – is thematically rooted in a sense of place. He melds people, physical places, stories, histories, etc. to get at what makes a place tick. In doing so he explores universal truths, expressed in smaller microcosms.

More than any other Moore work, Purgatorio is Moore telling stories about my place.

In this spirit, last weekend, I set out to check out some of the places Moore introduced me to in his Thelma Todd tale: Thelma Todd’s Sidewalk Cafe and the nearby home of director Roland West, where Todd was found dead.  Continue reading

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Get Hollywood Purgatorio Background On Various Podcasts

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Four different podcasts tell the story of Thelma Todd’s mysterious death – photo via Wikipedia

Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill are probably not getting their Cinema Purgatorio references from 21st Century souces like podcasts, but one of the contributors here (me, Joe Linton) has been listening to podcasts to get background on various Purgatorio stories. There’s plenty of text in books and on websites, but if you want to listen to learn more about Thelma Todd, Fatty Arbuckle, Willis O’Brien and others, check out these podcast episodes:

Cinema Purgatorio #1 – Fatty Arbuckle: Hollywood Scandals of Yesteryear #3
Cinema Purgatorio #4 – Willis O’Brien: The Optical #8
Cinema Purgatorio #6 – cameo feature Marie Prevost: Hollywood Scandals of Yesteryear #31
Cinema Purgatorio #7 – Actual OK Corral history: Wartime: A History Series S05E08, New Books in Historical FictionMy Darling Clementine (1946): The Recommendation Game #8, Totally Awesome Films. Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957): Classic Movie Reviews #86.
Cinema Purgatorio #9 – Thelma Todd: Mysterious Circumstances #26, You Must Remember This #94, Hollywoodland: Unsolved #3, Hollywood Scandals of Yesteryear #13
Cinema Purgatorio #11 – Black Dahlia: Movie Geeks United – Tinseltown Tragedies #3, True Crime Garage #44-46

Continue reading