Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

News

LAistory: Who Killed William Desmond Taylor?

WilliamDesmondTaylor.jpg
William Desmond Taylor
Today on Giving Tuesday, LAist needs your support.
Today, your donation to LAist will be matched dollar for dollar. Your tax-deductible that gift powers our reporters and keeps us independent will be felt twice as strong today, so don't delay!

William Desmond Taylor lived the kind of life that would be tough to live today, in our era of numbers and cards and facial recognition software. In the end, he paid a steep price for that life and so did Hollywood. Maybe he even lived many lives.He was an antiques dealer, panned for gold, he spent time in either the British or Canadian armies during World War I. He was from Ireland, but he easily morphed into a genteel English gentleman.

Not everything he did was so exciting. He was also an inveterate liar, a deadbeat dad who abandoned his family and a drifter. Like many who flocked to Hollywood in its scandal-free salad days, he invented himself every day.

William Desmond Taylor was born William Cunningham Deane-Tanner on April 26 in Carlow, Ireland. The year is in dispute, though Wikipedia lists it as 1872. When he was 18, he emigrated to the U.S., settling in New York City, where he tried to be an actor and married Ethel May Harrison. He was occasionally subject to some sort of mental lapses where he would just disappear. There is a medical condition where this is known to happen, but it could have just been a clever cover up for his many affairs.