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1930s & Earlier / Curious Death of Thelma Todd
Thelma Todd was a pretty blonde Hollywood actress who got her start in movies after she won some beauty contests in Massachusetts. Todd appeared in about 120 movies from 1926 through 1935. On the morning of Monday, December 16, 1935, the 29-year-old Todd was found dead in her car inside a garage belonging to Jewel Carmen, a former actress. Carmen was the former wife of Todd's lover and business partner Roland West. An autopsy determined Todd's death to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Todd had a wide circle of friends as well as a busy social life. A subsequent police investigation revealed that Todd had spent the last night of her life at the Trocadero, a popular Hollywood restaurant, at a party hosted by entertainer Stanley Lupino and Ida, his actress daughter. At the restaurant, Todd had a brief, unpleasant exchange with her ex-husband, Pat DeCicco. However, her friends stated that she was in good spirits, and were unaware of anything in her life that could suggest a reason for suicide. Nevertheless, suicide was the verdict of a Grand Jury. LAPD detectives first concluded that Todd's death was accidental, the result of her either warming up the car to drive it or using the heater to keep herself warm. Other evidence, however, points to foul play. Some Hollywood buffs believe Todd was the target of extortion and was killed fo refusing to pay. It is also possible that she was locked in the garage by her assailant after she started the car. Blood from a wound was found on her face and dress, leading some to the conclusion she was knocked unconscious and placed in the car to succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning. Todd's body was cremated, thus no further autopsies could be performed. Her death certificate states the cause of death as accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.