Thelma Todd (1906-1935)

Thelma Todd, a Hollywood legend, was a product of Lawrence.  She was born July 29, 1906 to John and Alice Todd.  Her father was a lieutenant on the Lawrence Police Department.  He later served as alderman and director of public health and charities.  She went through the Lawrence Public Schools graduating from Lawrence High School and going on to the Lowell State Normal School, a teacher’s college.  In the summers she worked part-time as a fashion model at the Empire Theater.  In 1925 Thelma and her friend, Ann MacMahon, were chosen to enter the Hood Practice School to get practical experience in teaching. 

Thelma, however, was not destined to become a schoolteacher.  Thelma possessed natural beauty and an innate sense of style and drama. That same year she was chosen as a finalist in the Miss Massachusetts beauty pageant.  The Lawrence Elks Lodge No. 65 had sponsored her and her mother pushed her to participate.  She was crowned Miss Massachusetts of 1925.  The day following her coronation, Thelma was invited to submit a screen test.  This would set Thelma on the road to Hollywood.

Thelma Todd entered the motion picture industry by way of Paramount Studios.  She started in silent films going on to talkies.  She made a series of very successful comedies for the Hal Roach Studio with Zazu Pitts.  She eloped with Pat DeCicco July 18, 1932.  They divorced March 2, 1934.  She appeared in the Marx brothers’ films Monkey Business and Horse Feathers.  The media gave her the sobriquets: “The Ice Cream Blonde” and “Hot Toddy.”  Ms. Todd died under mysterious circumstances December 17, 1935.   An exhaustive investigation followed and many theories have been expounded over the years, but the case has never been solved.

One Response

  1. It’s is said that she won the title of Miss Massachusetts at the Empire (Warner) Theater on Lawrence St. Are there any photos existing of that event?

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