Some say the ghost of Thelma Todd still enjoys the Malibu sunshine. At least that’s what the owners of a building on the Pacific Coast Highway have claimed for years. A production company now occupies the space once known as the “Roadside Rest Café.”
Every Friday evening for as long as I can remember, I used to drive by this building on my way to my house in Malibu. I would look up at its decaying structure and wonder about the death of Thelma Todd.
You see, on the morning of Monday, December 16, 1935, Thelma Todd was found dead in her car inside the garage of her lover and business partner, Roland West. The house was just above Todd’s restaurant, The Roadside Rest Café. Her death was determined to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Police investigations revealed that she had spent the last night of her life at the Trocadero, at a party hosted by Stanley Lupino. At the restaurant, she had had a brief but unpleasant exchange with her ex-husband, Pat DeCicco. However, her friends stated that she was in good spirits, and were aware of nothing unusual in her life that could suggest a reason for committing suicide.
The detectives of the LAPD concluded at first that Todd’s death was accidental, the result of her either warming up the car to drive it or using the heater to keep herself warm. Other evidence, however, pointed to foul play. The Grand Jury ruled her death as suicide. Since her body was cremated, a second, more thorough autopsy could not be carried out. It was believed that she was the target of extortion, but refused to pay. It is also possible that she was locked in the garage by her assailant after she started the car. Blood from a wound was found on her face and dress, leading some to believe that she was knocked unconscious and placed in the car so that she would succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Todd’s death certificate states her cause of death as accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. She was cremated; after her mother’s death, her remains were placed in her mother’s casket and buried in Bellevue Cemetery in her home town of Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Complicating matters, there was an apparent murder two years later involving Todd’s ex-husband Pat DiCicco and another movie actor as the victim.
Thelma Tood was found in her car because she was late to work. She was supposed to be at the Roach Studios, where she was starring with Laurel and Hardy in THE BOHEMIAN GIRL.
It is one of the great mysteries of Hollywood that always made me wonder…In any event, Thelma Todd was only 30 years old. And she had so much life in her.
Does she still haunt this Malibu structure or is she somewhere else. I have been told she has been seen in different places in Hollywood. Perhaps I will see her one day and we can have a little chat at one of her favorite Hollywood Haunts. That would be nice. Her death has always confused me.
But today, in the news is a story about another Hollywood death that has always baffled me.
Thirty years after Natalie Wood’s died, the LA Police are re-opening the case. I was dead when Natalie drowned, but in life I had lived only a few houses away from her on a street called Canon Drive in the flats of Beverly Hills. She lived in such a pretty house, with lovely flower pots, and pretty little shutters.
Her death has been another great mystery.
As it came to pass, it was decided that the woman with the big brown eyes hit her head on the dingy that was attached to their boat anchored near Catalina Island.
Her husband Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken were on the boat with her.
The captain of the boat is now coming forth with a new book and a new story.
Why do these leading ladies have to die so young and so tragically?
Natalie Wood and Thelma Todd you deserve peace.