The Ice Cream Blonde By Michelle Morgan (Book Review)

My love of films isn’t of course solely directed towards the Horror genre, no matter what the Saturday Frights Podcast might make you think. True, it is the type of movie I will generally seek out first but I also absolutely adore Film Noir and the Golden Age of Hollywood comedies like were delivered by the Marx Brothers.

Which is why I was so excited that Chicago Review Press sent me not one but two new biographies on the legendary Douglas Fairbanks and the beautiful comedienne Thelma Todd. For this review I’ll be talking about the biography, The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd, which has been wonderfully written by Michelle Morgan (Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed).

The 288 page book dives into not just the odd circumstances surrounding Todd’s passing, the 29-year-old was discovered behind the wheel of her 1932 Lincoln Phaeton, but also her early life as well as the struggles she encountered in Hollywood that on first glance might look to be a success.

Thelma Todd

With 119 acting credits to her name, that is from 1929 until one year after her tragic death and very probable murder, you can easily understand why she was one of the lucky few silent film actresses to navigate to talking pictures where she not only acted alongside Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, Joe E. Brown, and the Marx Brothers to name a few. Thelma was so capable a comedienne that Hal Roach partnered her up with another funny young lady named Zasu Pitts in June of 1931 as a kind of female version of the popular Laurel and Hardy duo.
[Via] Tallulah Hula

Buster Keaton, Todd, and Jimmy Durante from 1932's Speak Easily.
Buster Keaton, Todd, and Jimmy Durante from 1932’s Speak Easily.

Michelle Morgan has crafted not only an engrossing and accessible biography but with her research including interviews, photographs from Todd’s life, and evidence of the starlet’s death collected by the FBI, The Ice Cream Blonde also offers an emotional and personal insight from many of Todd’s family, friends, and fellow co-stars of the day.

Of course with the title of her book including ‘Mysterious Death’, Morgan also gives us a detailed look at the Police proceedings surrounding the case…as the young woman it turns out received not only extortion notes, suffered a burglary, and even stood defiant against the unwanted attention at Thelma Todd’s Sidewalk Cafe (Todd was found in a garage near the cafe) of mobsters…whether that be from Tony Cornero, or her ex-husband Pat DiCicco who was RUMORED to have ties with the Mafia.

Michelle at the end of her book presents the three obvious possibilities of the reasons for Todd’s death but even goes so far as to compile all of the collected information to offer a new enticing viewpoint of the poor young woman’s final moments.

With the Christmas Holiday season quickly approaching, if you have a loved one that is also fascinated by the glamour of the Golden Age of Hollywood you should add this to their list of perfect gifts to pick up, Michelle Morgan does not disappoint. You can obtain a copy for yourself by visiting Chicago Review Press or even Amazon, the book was released just last week on November 1st so you should be able to head out to your local bookstore and pick it up as well.


Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.