California · Crime Scene Photography

Actress Thelma Todd killed by carbon monoxide poisoning

December 16, 1935
Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California
Actress Thelma Todd dies of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning

Todd had been a staple of American silent movies and early talkies, including the Marx brothers’ Horse Feathers, The Maltese Falcon, Laurel and Hardy’s Another Fine Mess, and with Buster Keaton in Speak Easily among many others.

Todd had been lovers with her business partner Roland West and was found in her car in West’s ex-wife’s house. The ex-wife was another actress, Jewel Carmen, who lived near a restaurant owned by Todd. West speculated after Todd was found that she had sought warmth in her car after being locked out.

Because Todd had no signs of violence such as bruises or abrasions aside from a “superficial contusion on the lower lip,” investigators agreed with West’s speculation, believing Todd was either looking to stay warm or was simply warming up her car in the unventilated garage. However, informal accounts claimed greater injuries including a broken nose, cracked ribs, and bruises around her throat. Todd was cremated and, when her mother died in 1969, her remains were placed in her mother’s casket.

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