Steps that Todd went up to her home above the cafe
Todd’s Cafe on the day of her death
Todd’s Cafe as it appears today
Thelma Todd and Roland West
Thelma Todd was born in 1905 in Lawrence, MA. Although she aspired to be a teacher, Todd was drop dead gorgeous and entered beauty pageants along the way. She ended up winning Miss Massassachusets in 1925 and went on to compete for Miss America. Because of this, several talent scouts noticed her.
Paramount Studios offered Todd acting school and eventually over 100 films from 1926 to 1935. Todd’s looks, humor and strong screen presence made her the No. 1 choice for a female lead role in a comedy for some of the top names in the business, including Laurel and Hardy and the Marx Brothers. Indeed, two of her most popular features were shot with the latter comedy troupe, Monkey Business (1931) and Horse Feathers (1932).
Todd knew that acting wouldn’t last forever, so she decided to partner up with director Roland West in a restaurant venture. They opened Thelma Todd’s Sidewalk Cafe in Pacific Palisades, which catered to the Hollywood young elite and attracted a few gangsters.
“After Todd’s death, rumors abounded that mob boss Lucky Luciano wanted to use Todd’s establishment as a front for a gambling den. Allegedly, just days before she was discovered dead, Todd and Luciano met for lunch at the infamous Brown Derby. Luciano supposedly informed Todd of his interests in her restaurant. She told him to kiss off and that he could have her locale over her dead body.
“That can be arranged,” Luciano coolly replied. She was dead in less than a week.” (Information from Hollywood Crimes)
There were also rumors that she had a fight with her partner and lover, Roland West the night she died. They fought over her partying lifestyle and he left. When she returned to the house they shared above the restaurant she discovered that West had locked her out. She pounded on the door but he refused. Rumor has it that she climbed up the steps to the garage to escape the cold. She turned on the engine to stay warm, and some say she was so drunk that she passed out and died from the fumes.
Others believed that West followed her up to the garage and locked her in. Lucky Luciano never commented on his possible involvement. No one was found guilty of the possible crime and nothing was ever solved.
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