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LAistory: Thelma Todd's Roadside Cafe

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LAistory is our new series that will take us on a journey to what came before to help us understand where we are today. We began with Val Verde, the "Black Palm Springs" and now we go to Thelma Todd's Roadside Cafe.


This December 16th, it will have been seventy-three years since Thelma Todd was found dead at 29, in the garage of her home. The car she was sitting in was still on. The exact circumstances of her death remain a mystery.

Thelma Alice Todd was born on July 29th 1905 in Lawrence, MA. She was a lively child, always good at academics, and she wanted to be a schoolteacher. In college, her mother (who wanted her to be more than a "schoolmarm") encouraged her to participate in beauty pageants. In 1925, she won the Miss Massachusetts title, and was subsequently offered movie roles. She had a gift for comedy (though she also did drama and horror roles) and starred in over 130 movies. Transitioning easily from silent to talkie films, she worked with such venerated actors as Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, Zasu Pitts and the Marx Brothers. Her bombshell look earned her the moniker, "The Ice Cream Blonde."