Thelma Todd was a dish, a dame, a bombshell and also a very funny comedienne and actress. She was one of the biggest Hollywood stars of the late 20′s and early 30′s. Appearing in over 40 movies between 1926 and 1935. Thelma is best remembered for her comedic roles in the Marx Brothers movies, Monkey Business and Horse Feathers. She also appeared with most of the silents and early talkies biggest stars, Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper and William Powell, to name just a few. In the 1930s, she opened a restaurant, Thelma Todd’s Sidewalk Cafe, and took up residence in a luxurious apartment above the cafe. Located near the ocean on the Roosevelt Highway at Catellammare, it became a popular place. It was in the garage of the Sidewalk Cafe on December 15, 1935, that she was found in her parked car, dead of carbon monoxide poisoning, deceased at the age of 29 – supposedly a suicide, maybe a murder.
Though her death was ruled a suicide by the courts but there were quite a few other possibilities. Why would she kill herself? Thelma was riding high with a string of hits, successfully making the transition from Silents to the Talkies, owned a successful restaurant, dated some of Hollywood’s most famous stars and basically, had it all.
The Grand Jury investigation into her death yielded conflicting results. Spots of blood were found both on and in the car, and on Todd’s mouth. This led to the theory that she might have been knocked out before the car was started.
The first suspect was Thelma’s ex-husband, Pat DiCicco, a self-described agent with underworld connections. After one too many beatings, Todd divorced him. He felt humiliated by all the publicity and may have sought revenge. Hm?
Another suspect was Lucky Luciano, Americas most famous gangster and mob boss. Rumors circulated that Lucky wanted to use Todd’s restaurant as a front for his gambling operation. Allegedly, just days before she was discovered dead, Luciano informed Todd of his interests in her restaurant. The story goes that Thelma pooh-poohed Lucky’s offer and was killed for her refusal and disrespect.
Hard to say. Everybody’s got troubles. Maybe she did call it quits in her garage almost 78 years ago. It’s probably not important any more, so go rent her movies instead, start with Monkey Business.
Playboy in the 1960′s still had a bit of naivete to it. It really did focus on the man of the times and actually had unbelievable articles (Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was first published in 3 consecutive issues, Ian Fleming’s James Bond novel On Her Majestys Secret Service as well. Jack Karouac and Norman Mailer both had exclusive stories in the 60′s). With no real full-on nudity or sex of any kind, Playboy was still a real shocker to puritan America reaching close to 5 million in sales by the end of the 60′s. Everyone knows what it has become today and it’s amazing it’s still is published at all (down to 1.5 million). These older covers were – for the most part – clever, fun and well designed and spoke directly to the era. Remember to look for the hidden rabbit logo, it’s on every cover. Some easier to find than others.
Is there anyone in the world more photogenic than David Bowie? Many of his album covers (always a self portrait) have become iconic. Everyone knows the lightning bolt make up of Alladin Sane and the weird black and white ‘salute’ of Heroes. His many personas were equally as famous – the half-man-half-dog of Diamond Dogs, The Thin White Duke of Station to Station, Scary Monsters… victorian clown or the young long haired singer/songwriter of Hunky Dory. Even though he’s been photographed 1000′s of times it’s interesting to see the alternate shots – what might have been, from these famous LPs.
It was imperative in the 90′s to “Show the Wealth”, in most gansta rap LPs. Cash, diamonds, girls and pit bulls were the symbols of success. Granted a number of these are mix tape style covers from bands that most haven’t heard of but, jeez louise, whats goin on? I didn’t know photoshop could be used this way, and where do I find the glimmery jewelery filter. These guys (and Lil Kim) were livin’ large, adding Z’s and dollar sign$ to their names willy-nilly and flashin’ the cash. A couple of these are a bit off topic but I found them too funny and odd to ignore. Playa G’s “U Not My Lady” is weirdly boring and Ta Smallz, “Who Killed My Mama?” is just plain sad. The real high point here is the wonderfully designed and titled, Trinidad Jones LP – Dont Be S.A.F.E (Sensitive As Fuck Everyday) and off course Big Bears’- “Doin Thangs”.
I’ve posted a lot of these in the past and always get a great response. These women were/are great. Playing by their own rules in the repressed 1950′s. First, check out the great poses (and skin), then the talented well lit photography and finally their unbelievable names; Lady Zorro, Maye Joyce aka The Tiny Mite of Dynamite, SATIN aka The Siren in Silk, etc. For more of these go to the great site http://burleskateer.tumblr.com/
Movie posters seem to have no real artistic punch anymore. No more beautiful dames and bright yellow type like noir posters from the 50′s, wild multi-color collages from the 60′s or crazy psych art from the 70′s. Sure, you’ll see the odd poster here and there that amazes you, but for the most part it’s become the star’s big old head smack in the middle of the poster with the co-stars arranged in a V behind him/her, along with some truly disappointing type choices. Thank the good lord for the fine people at Mondo. Employing some of the finest illustrators in the world, Mondo creates beautiful poster art, hand silk-screened in limited runs. They are next to impossible to get because they usually produce no more than 500 of each piece, and when it’s sold out, it’s sold out. The trouble is is that they’re not real movie posters, they’re art hidden in a traditional movie poster format. Now if only the studios would hire these guys to do actual posters and we could stop looking at Tom Cruise’s big fat mug every time we went to the multi-plexes.