The Enigmatic Death of Thelma Todd

Heather Monroe
8 min readNov 18, 2019

Was the big screen bombshell a victim of suicide, homicide, or a tragic accident?

Thelma Todd, ca 1930, Wikimedia Commons

Thelma Alice Todd’s story began in Lawrence, Massachusetts, when she was born on July 29, 1906, to an Irishman named John Todd, and a Canadian named Alice Edwards. She graduated high school in 1923. Thelma studied to become a school teacher, but her mother signed her up for beauty pageants, fearing that her beautiful and smart daughter would end up being just another New England schoolmarm.

When she was 21 years old, Thelma won the Miss Massachusetts Pageant, which qualified her to compete for the Miss America crown. She lost to Miss California but won the eye of a talent scout in the audience.

Thelma started playing comedic parts in short films for Hal Roach but was soon appearing in feature-length movies with Paramount. The world called her “Hot Toddy,” and more famously, “The Icecream Blonde.” In her lifetime, Thelma Todd appeared in over 120 movies with the likes of Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante.

Men

Thelma enjoyed her status as a sex symbol and one of the most popular women in Hollywood. Thelma was flirtatious but never vampish. She had many boyfriends, but many more male acquaintances who thought of her as one of the boys.

Thelma married a handsome New Yorker in 1932 named Pasquale “Pat” DiCicco. Pat met Thelma while vacationing in Los Angeles. He was the son of a broccoli farmer from Long Island and a movie producer who claimed to have mob ties. Pat couldn’t be bothered to introduce Thelma to his family back east.

The marriage was brief and unhappy, as Pat was more than a little hot-tempered. Thelma filed for divorce in 1934. She told the judge Pasquale was, “Surly and unpleasant in the presence of guests,” which was code for “abusive.” The judge granted Thelma her divorce.

It was in the 1931 film, Corsair, that she met her on-again-off-again lover, director, and producer Roland West. Thelma was smitten with the wealthy, good looking man that some people found strange and reticent. Roland, though, was married and felt torn between the love he had for his wife, Jewel Carmen, and the attraction he felt towards beautiful Thelma.

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Heather Monroe

Welcome readers! Heather Monroe is a genealogist and writer who resides in California with her partner and their nine children. •True Crime• History• Memoir•