William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

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Jim Roots

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostThu Mar 20, 2014 1:13 pm

bobfells wrote:
Frederica wrote:
T0m M wrote:One of the reasons that unsolved murders are generally assumed to be by the rich,famous and/or powerful is that the general public does not believe that a nobody has the intelligence to pull off a high profile crime without being caught. However, if is pulled off by someone of note, they believe that those people have the ability to pull it off without trace or at least possess the power to have it covered up.


We also like our unsolved murders to resemble fictional murders. The narrative must follow murder-mystery rules, the biggest being that you don't define your cast of suspicious characters, then fling in a complete unknown as the real murderer in the last paragraph.


True, and another murder mystery rule, the killer must be somebody well known in the story but that nobody ever suspected. In other words, the killer must not only be somebody prominent but there needs to be an element of surprise. This is why shifty looking characters in murder mystery movies never turn out to be the killer because then there would be no surprise.


Luckily for you, Bob, you look awfully shifty.

Jim
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Brooksie

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostThu Aug 21, 2014 1:12 pm

The first review seems to have trickled out - I'm afraid it's no more thorough or insightful than the book's title: http://bostonherald.com/entertainment/books/2014/08/liz_smith_hollywoods_william_desmond_taylor_murder_solved_at_last. The book does not come out until October, but there are already a few pre-release reviews on Amazon.
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FrankFay

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostThu Aug 21, 2014 1:32 pm

I'd like less attention to be paid to Taylor's death and more to his surviving WORK. A few weeks back Capitolfest screened MORALS. It was a very good looking picture and directed with considerable sensitivity.
Eric Stott
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Brooksie

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostThu Aug 21, 2014 1:48 pm

FrankFay wrote:I'd like less attention to be paid to Taylor's death and more to his surviving WORK. A few weeks back Capitolfest screened MORALS. It was a very good looking picture and directed with considerable sensitivity.


Me too. I feel the same way about Mary Miles Minter. From the few performances of hers that I've seen, she deserved to be regarded as more than just an off-brand Mary Pickford and crackpot.

By coincidence, I just switched on TCM where the last part of The Strange Love of Molly Louvain (1932) is playing out. Ann Dvorak's character is being hauled before the police in an attempt to coerce a confession.

She responds with a sarcastic outburst, claiming responsibility for a number of famous crimes, adding "... and I killed William Desmond Taylor!" It came as somewhat of a surprise - the crime was a decade old by that point, but was apparently still shorthand for a notorious unsolved mystery, in the same way someone might say "... and I hid Jimmy Hoffa's body!" today.
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wich2

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostThu Aug 21, 2014 2:50 pm

>There seems a tendency to link well known persons with highly publicised unsolved murders or mysterious deaths.<

Same thing happens with Past Life rememberances...

Everyone was always a royal at Cleopatra's court, or a general at Washington's right hand - if not those notables THEMSELVES!

Wasn't anyone who's been reincarnated ever, to reference Mel Brooks, "the p*ssboy" the last time 'round?

-Craig
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bobfells

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostThu Aug 21, 2014 5:27 pm

wich2 wrote:>There seems a tendency to link well known persons with highly publicised unsolved murders or mysterious deaths.<

Same thing happens with Past Life rememberances...

Everyone was always a royal at Cleopatra's court, or a general at Washington's right hand - if not those notables THEMSELVES!

Wasn't anyone who's been reincarnated ever, to reference Mel Brooks, "the p*ssboy" the last time 'round?

-Craig


I know what you mean. I researched my family's geneology to find the wealthy relatives in my family tree. And I found them too! We're the wealthy relatives :(
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wich2

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostThu Aug 21, 2014 5:55 pm

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IA

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostFri Mar 10, 2017 2:20 pm

I flipped through Mann's Tinseltown yesterday. The book is terribly padded--95% context, 5% mystery. As for Mann's new solution to poor William Desmond Taylor's murder, I suggest skipping the rest of this post if you want to avoid spoilers.


Ready? Spoilers ahoy!


Mann's solution ties the murder to Margaret Gibson's deathbed confession of killing Taylor. In his solution, Gibson didn't pull the trigger--she was partnered with a group of blackmailers, one of whom, Blackie Madsen, was directly responsible for the killing. It's a plausible solution, since Madsen and his accomplice seem to fit the eyewitness descriptions of the men who asked for directions to Taylor's bungalow and of the man seen prowling around there and leaving the residence shortly after the Taylor's murder.

The problem is there's no actual proof tying Madsen to Taylor. Nor was it clear how Gibson and company would have amassed the neccesary evidence for blackmail (I'll have to re-read some parts to see if they had contact with Taylor's ex-servant, who apparently was also a blackmailer). So while it's a plausible theory, it remains a theory. I'm also a skeptical of Gibson's confession, which could either be a old rogue's last swindle or the delusion of an otherwise normal person (just as otherwise sane people sincerely believe they've seen UFOs or ghosts).

And to be honest, Mann's solution is also a rather dull one. That's not a knock against its possible verity, since real crimes often have dull and/or anti-climactic solutions, but it did leave me nostalgic for the Charlotte Shelby theory, which has an emotional power and resonance that the stories of the other culprits (Madsen, drug hitmen, burglars) lack. That reaction is undoubtedly a tribute to A Cast of Killers, which wove a captivating mystery tale and shimmers with nostalgic glamor (King Vidor and Colleen Moore as detectives! Interviews with Alan Dwan and Gloria Swanson!). And since every theory has holes (if they didn't the murder would be considered solved), I'll stick with the Cast of Killers version (while admitting Mann's might be the right one). As Self-Styled Siren wrote, "whether or not Vidor had the right perp, it plays."

In any case, it would be terrific if the research King Vidor compiled could be digitized and placed online--you can bet the Taylorologists would have a field day. Those of us who care about King Vidor would have fun too. The Taylor research is presumably in the set of Vidor papers at the University of Southern California, along with a bunch of enticing unproduced scripts.
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bigshot

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostFri Mar 10, 2017 2:31 pm

I'm betting OJ did it.
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IA

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostFri Mar 10, 2017 3:13 pm

bigshot wrote:I'm betting OJ did it.


There's a scene in A Cast of Killers where someone jokes "the butler did it!" Unintentionally ironic, since one of the suspects was Taylor's butler...
Anyway, my money is on Colonel Mustard.
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The Blackbird

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostSat Mar 11, 2017 11:58 am

Turns out Madsen was Jack the Ripper, too.
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salus

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostMon Mar 13, 2017 6:11 pm

King Vidor's daughter is still alive and inherited her father's papers , has she been asked what he surmised happened that night that was in the papers. It would at least be interesting to know.
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IA

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostMon Mar 13, 2017 6:29 pm

salus wrote:King Vidor's daughter is still alive and inherited her father's papers , has she been asked what he surmised happened that night that was in the papers. It would at least be interesting to know.


Vidor's conclusions are made very clear in A Cast of Killers--there's no doubt about who he believed was the killer. Vidor's papers are stored in several universities, but I believe USC holds the Taylor investigation documents. I would certainly like to see those digitized, since one of the flaws of Kirkpatrick's book is the lack of citations. Online access to the papers would allow us to check Vidor's sources and might even strengthen his case (or the opposite!).
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wms4silents

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostMon Mar 13, 2017 11:28 pm

read the book and it was not a bad read...treat it as fiction and a general rehashing of the previous books with a different conclusion and you have it. A cut above the snide Charles Hingham book.
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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostTue Mar 14, 2017 4:20 pm

It cost King Vidor his marriage, but playing amateur sleuth (with former girlfriend, Colleen Moore), he solved this case long before his death.
Charlotte Shelby (mother of Mary Miles Minter) did it. At least that how Sidney D. Kirkpatrick's "A Cast of Killers" ends the mystery on page 268. The book is a collection of facts Vidor uncovered. After his death in 1982, Kirkpatrick gained access to King Vidor's investigation notes of the Taylor murder.
Betty Vidor died on August 21, 1978. She was 77. She never allowed King Vidor into the family home and her will instructed that the policy be continued after her death.
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IA

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostTue Mar 14, 2017 4:36 pm

Vidor was definitely a ladies' man, and a flirt well into old age. I feel sorry for Betty, but I would do bad things to be with Colleen Moore as well.

The guy who runs Taylorlogy has poured cold water onto the idea of Charlotte Shelby as the kiler (http://www.taylorology.com/issues/Taylor58.txt), but while his points are valid, the eyewitness accounts and press coverage of the case are so unreliable that I still think the Shelby theory could be true. It's certainly more interesting than the blackmailer and drug-hit theories.
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salus

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostWed Mar 15, 2017 3:28 pm

Colleen Moore was an old lady in the 1960s when she and Vidor were investigating the case and harassing Mary Miles Minter. This was the era long before Viagra so i guess these two old bags were down to a handshake.
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salus

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostWed Mar 15, 2017 3:31 pm

By the obsession Mary Miles Minter had for him 40 years later i'm one to guess that she new her mom killed him. Faith Mclaren said it was someone that looked like she was dressed as a male. Charlotte Shelby was an actress. At least from this detail we know it must be a female actress who knew how to disguise.
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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostWed Mar 15, 2017 4:42 pm

salus wrote:Colleen Moore was an old lady in the 1960s when she and Vidor were investigating the case and harassing Mary Miles Minter. This was the era long before Viagra so i guess these two old bags were down to a handshake.


Perhaps...but theirs was a continuation of a lifetime infatuation with eachother. They were chums and did a lot of the extensive investigating together, traveling to different locals while wife Betty was left behind. They even talked of making a film based on the details Vidor had discovered.

Betty knew of the longtime (platonic) affair between King and Colleen. In the book "A Cast of Killers," it says they traveled together to various locations, where they lived together and even entertained others, playing board games to pass the time. From page 160, up to page 200 (when Betty told him to get out until he decided what he was going to do about their marriage), the book clearly shows he and Colleen were always together up until he put her on a plane heading for Washington, D.C. just before heading home to face Betty. He was guilty and knew it.
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salus

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostWed Mar 15, 2017 5:04 pm

He should have divorced Betty and married Colleen who was open to marriage since she married just before her death.
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salus

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Re: William Desmond Taylor mystery solved (again ...)

PostWed Mar 15, 2017 5:10 pm

There was no indication prior to the murder that Mary Miles Minter wanted to leave films, then right after the murder she wants to retire and Mom (Charlotte Shelby) who controlled her didn't put up a fight to keep her acting. Very suspicious to me that now Mary had the upper hand (if Charlotte did it) and took mom to court to get her earnings, they eventually made up after mom let her have her own life and earnings. Charlotte lived another 35 years after the career ended in 1923 and kept to herself.
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