Death of Thelma Todd

For this week’s Femme Fatale Friday post I have decided to choose the story of the death of Thelma Todd.    I was originally going to do this on a Twitch stream, however, I was not able to do that.    Instead I thought it would make a good topic to cover for Femme Fatale Friday!

Thelma Todd was a comedic actress in the 1930s who was in around 120 films and shorts between the years of 1926 and 1935!   This is an incredible output for that time span, even taking into consideration how many films were produced yearly by each of the studios in Old Hollywood.   Her nicknames were The Ice Cream Blonde and Hot Toddy.    Other than working in films she also was a business woman who owned The Sidewalk Cafe.

Thelma Todd was known for working with the actress Zasu Pitts and the Marx brothers.   The Marx brothers films Monkey Business and Horse Feathers were two of her most notable appearances!    She also worked with Laurel and Hardy, including on her final film appearance in The Bohemian Girl.    This was cut short due to her death!

Now that I have given a background for Thelma’s work I want to cover her death and the mystery surrounding her demise.    She was found dead on December 19, 1935 in her car, the cause of death being carbon monoxide poisoning.    This was thought to be suspicious at the time, but they could never prove that her death was not an accident or suicide.    This uncertainty surrounding her death and the theories remind me of another blonde bombshell dead before her time, Marilyn Monroe.

The suspects in this case were her ex-husband Pat DiCicco, her lover Roland West, West’s wife Jewel Carmen, and the mobster Lucky Luciano!    Obviously. an ex is always a prime suspect with reasons to want you dead, so it is not surprising many think he could have killed her.    Her lover West was also a failed director, who could have resented her success in the film industry, giving him a reason to want her dead.   Jewel Carmen, being married to the man Thelma was bedding, could want her dead.    If it was Carmen’s doing this would likely place it as a revenge killing for possibly stealing her husband.   The final suspect being Lucky Luciano comes from the fact that Lucky had an interest in Thelma both in her business and in her personally.    Some have theorized that they had an actual affair with one another, while others have stated that Luciano only wanted her business.   I personally think that Luciano is one of the most likely candidates for murdering Thelma.

This is due not only to his being a mobster, but also due to him being a ruthless business man.    If he wanted to buy her out of her business and she refused, it would have been nothing for him to eliminate the problem.    If we also factor in the likelihood of their having had an affair, it is even more reason that he may want her dead!   I think there was a possibility that they had an affair, which Thelma ended, and then also tried to prevent him from having a stake in her business, that would fuel his murderous intent.

I hope that you have enjoyed this post about the death of Thelma Todd.    Who do you think was her murderer, or was it an accident?   Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Thelma Todd.   I found the image on

Further Reading