MARY MILES MINTER

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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Frederica

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 4:28 pm

salus wrote:Faith Maclean said that it looked liked a woman wearing a mans coat


Not according to this, she didn't.
http://www.taylorology.com/official/testimony.pdf
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azjazzman

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 4:36 pm

Frederica wrote:
Chris Snowden wrote:Why do you think she was crazy? I haven't heard anything to suggest she was. I haven't heard of anybody else confessing to the murder, either, though maybe Bruce has.


Can't remember details. Did she say why she had killed him? Based on what little I read about her, she struck me as exactly the kind of person who would falsely confess to guilt in a high profile case.

Bruce will have to confirm, but I've run across tiny news squibs about people confessing to the Taylor murder, as I recall from quite a few years later. I didn't keep them, though, doggone it, maybe he has seen some.


This is kind of off-topic, but I finally caught up with Marion Meade's biography of Buster Keaton recently. I had studiously avoided it due to the negative comments I heard about it. I generally thought it was okay, but was taken aback at one point where she declaratively stated that Thelma Todd was murdered by Lucky Luciano and Paul Bern by an ex-wife.

I think she may make a similar remark elsewhere in the book about the culprit in the Taylor murder, but I don't recall for sure. For someone who went to the trouble to list the exact number of words she used from various letters, interviews and other sources, this surprised me. To the best of my knowledge, none of these cases have ever been declared officially 'solved'. She definitely implied that they had.
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Chris Snowden

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 4:46 pm

Frederica wrote: Based on what little I read about her, she struck me as exactly the kind of person who would falsely confess to guilt in a high profile case.


But in 1964, this was hardly a high-profile case. Nobody but hardcore movie and true-crime buffs had heard of it. Palmer had never mentioned the name to her friend before; in fact, she was highly secretive about her past.

At this point in her life, she was a little old lady living very quietly, venturing out of her house only for groceries or to visit her neighbor friend. She was the total opposite of the attention-seeking nutjob who'd say anything for a media spotlight, and I've heard nothing that would indicate she was schizophrenic or had other mental issues, at that point in her life or at any other.



Bruce will have to confirm, but I've run across tiny news squibs about people confessing to the Taylor murder, as I recall from quite a few years later. I didn't keep them, though, doggone it, maybe he has seen some.


There may have been other people who confessed to the crime, though I can't think of any. Assuming there were, how many of them actually knew the victim, as Palmer did? How many of them knew the victim and had had troubles with the law?
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salus

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 5:33 pm

Yes the little old lady seemed to have a completely different persona than in her silent days. Im always amazed how many of the silent stars stayed and lived in Los Angeles and yet never tried to appear in a film again and i thought in the late 1940s and early 1950s they would have jumped to get a chance to be on the new medium of TV since it was a new medium MOVIES that gave them their first success.
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Bob Birchard

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 5:40 pm

salus wrote:Yes the little old lady seemed to have a completely different persona than in her silent days.


That's why they call it acting.
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salus

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 6:01 pm

Im afraid i disagree with you , it seems you can be tricked into believing that a psychotic aging movie actress on her deathbed can be believed. Did she mentioned things about the murder that only the killer would know or did she just confess becoming a "Silent drama queen " till the end.
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Mike Gebert

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 6:10 pm

Is that a clinical diagnosis of psychosis? On what evidence? She was a crook many years before, that doesn't preclude being a harmless, even guilt-ridden little old lady later.

I don't see how anyone can say anything definitive about something like this. One man claims she confessed. We can't really judge his veracity, or hers-- people sometimes come to believe they did things they didn't.

What we can say is that she was criminal enough way back then that the possibility is not outrageous; on the other hand, though, she didn't seem to have current dealings with Taylor, did she? Which makes it less likely she would have up and plugged him one day.

So she can certainly go on the (quite long) list of plausible suspects, but I don't see how we can know any more than that.
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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salus

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 6:51 pm

She should have told him how she did it to prove her story and remove the finger pointing at those who had been accused, thats if she was trying to clear her conscience. No this seems to me to be a person who never achieved the stardom she wanted and was bragging about something she knew about because it was the talk of the town at the time.
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salus

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 7:08 pm

..........I find it disturbing that you and Bill take the word of an aging dying silent film star wannabe as gospel while you are ready to attack others such as Adele Rogers St. Johns as not being truthful, we could name a few other such as Sidney Fitzpatrick of A Cast of Killers fame who also have been mentioned as being loose with the truth. You may be right , who knows but to take the word of this woman who was known to reinvent herself, one moment Margaret Gibson , the next Patricia Palmer seems foolish. Where is the proof??? is there fingerprints extant of her and the crime scene ones, she proably signed autographs so her fingerprints could be on them or on a contract and how bout DNA which wasnt available then but today is. She is no more truthful than the fraud who claimed to be Mary Miles Minters daughter.
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Bob Birchard

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 7:08 pm

salus wrote:She should have told him how she did it to prove her story and remove the finger pointing at those who had been accused, thats if she was trying to clear her conscience. No this seems to me to be a person who never achieved the stardom she wanted and was bragging about something she knew about because it was the talk of the town at the time.


It was hardly the talk of the town in the 1960s, and I doubt the teenager who heard the confession even knew who Taylor was at the time; though his mother, who was also in the room, may have. I agree that the evidence is inconclusive, and after reading all of Taylorology all that one can say with any certainty is that William Desmond Taylor met his death at the hands of another person or persons unknown. All I'm saying is that, for me, the Gibson/Palmer confession has a certain ring of truth to it and it satisfies the one requirement that I felt all along--i.e. that the murderer, if ever discovered, would turn out to be someone completely off the radar.

One might question why the mother of boy didn't tell the police about the confession--but maybe she did and they just thought it was the ramblings of a deranged soul. The guy who heard the confession told me that it always stuck with him, that she was so earnest about having to unburden her soul before she died that he believed her even though he didn't really know what she was talking about at the time--and it did stick with him for thirty years.

I can certainly buy the possibility the Gibson/Palmer was not in her right mind, and that as others have she might have confessed to something she didn't do, but I doubt the guy who heard her made up the story. How and why would a non film buff even know enough to pick a name like Margaret Gibson/Patricia Palmer out of the air?

So, I understand all the reservations about her confession, and I find those reservations quite reasonable. I'm just saying that I believe the story, and anyone else is free to believe whatever they want.
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salus

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 7:11 pm

Thank you i dont mean to be abrasive , i just got caught up in the debate, sorry again!!!
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Bob Birchard

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 7:31 pm

salus wrote:..........I find it disturbing that you and Bill take the word of an aging dying silent film star wannabe as gospel while you are ready to attack others such as Adele Rogers St. Johns as not being truthful, we could name a few other such as Sidney Fitzpatrick of A Cast of Killers fame who also have been mentioned as being loose with the truth. You may be right , who knows but to take the word of this woman who was known to reinvent herself, one moment Margaret Gibson , the next Patricia Palmer seems foolish. Where is the proof??? is there fingerprints extant of her and the crime scene ones, she proably signed autographs so her fingerprints could be on them or on a contract and how bout DNA which wasnt available then but today is. She is no more truthful than the fraud who claimed to be Mary Miles Minters daughter.


I don't know why you should feel disturbed. You must have nothing better to do. I'm not challenging your thoughts or beliefs, you're free to believe whatever you want.

I have little faith in Adela Rogers St. Johns as a chronicler of truth based on my own experience with her. That is not to say I didn't like her, she was a wonderful character.

Back in 1970 or '71 we went to Paso Robles to interview St. Johns on film for a project on the Flying A studio in Santa Barbara. We met her in her room at the Madonna Inn and did a pre-interview with her. It was clear from the pre-interview that she knew nothing about the subject we were interested in.

We were on a tight budget, and wasting a roll of 16mm color negative was a luxury we really couldn't afford. As we went out to the car to haul in the equipment, my associate wanted to abort the interview. I felt, what the hell, we'd driven a long distance, and St. Johns would be insulted if we just packed up and left--besides, she was Adela Rogers St. Johns and would add some star power to the film.

While the crew set up the camera and did a sound check I continued to chat with St, Johns--and actually it could be called a pre-interview in reverse. We showed her some pictures of the studio, and some of the people who worked there. She wanted to know what we were after, how it fit into the project, etc.

Well, with the camera set and the lights on St, Johns gave a magnificent performance--she knew everyone who worked at the studio, she had little personal stories about several of them. She also gave general impressions about Hollywood and Santa Barbara--how the studio looked--how difficult it was to get from L.A. to Santa Barbara in the early days, etc. It was great stuff to add here and there as an accent, and we did use it--but it was all made up. She learned what we wanted and fed it back to us with a big dose of personality. She wanted to help us, and she wasn't about to let the truth stand in the way of a good story.
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azjazzman

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 8:04 pm

Bob Birchard wrote:
I don't know why you should feel disturbed. You must have nothing better to do. I'm not challenging your thoughts or beliefs, you're free to believe whatever you want.

I have little faith in Adela Rogers St. Johns as a chronicler of truth based on my own experience with her. That is not to say I didn't like her, she was a wonderful character.

Back in 1970 or '71 we went to Paso Robles to interview St. Johns on film for a project on the Flying A studio in Santa Barbara. We met her in her room at the Madonna Inn and did a pre-interview with her. It was clear from the pre-interview that she knew nothing about the subject we were interested in.

We were on a tight budget, and wasting a roll of 16mm color negative was a luxury we really couldn't afford. As we went out to the car to haul in the equipment, my associate wanted to abort the interview. I felt, what the hell, we'd driven a long distance, and St. Johns would be insulted if we just packed up and left--besides, she was Adela Rogers St. Johns and would add some star power to the film.

While the crew set up the camera and did a sound check I continued to chat with St, Johns--and actually it could be called a pre-interview in reverse. We showed her some pictures of the studio, and some of the people who worked there. She wanted to know what we were after, how it fit into the project, etc.

Well, with the camera set and the lights on St, Johns gave a magnificent performance--she knew everyone who worked at the studio, she had little personal stories about several of them. She also gave general impressions about Hollywood and Santa Barbara--how the studio looked--how difficult it was to get from L.A. to Santa Barbara in the early days, etc. It was great stuff to add here and there as an accent, and we did use it--but it was all made up. She learned what we wanted and fed it back to us with a big dose of personality. She wanted to help us, and she wasn't about to let the truth stand in the way of a good story.


Bob, this is a great story! But, unless you have left out some details, it seems to me like there is more than one way to interpret this besides just concluding that Adela invented all the details that she came up with once the film started rolling. Obviously some of it must have been useful since you did use some of it. Is is possible that was she sandbagging you during the pre-interview? I respect you as a chronicler of Hollywood history, but as I read this, the thought did occur to me.
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Bob Birchard

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 8:07 pm

azjazzman wrote:Bob, this is a great story! But, unless you have left out some details, it seems to me like there is more than one way to interpret this besides just concluding that Adela invented all the details that she came up with once the film started rolling. Obviously some of it must have been useful since you did use some of it. Is is possible that was she sandbagging you during the pre-interview? I respect you as a chronicler of Hollywood history, but as I read this, the thought did occur to me.


That was not the impression I, or the folks that were with me, had at the time.
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Harold Aherne

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 9:11 pm

salus wrote:is there fingerprints extant of her and the crime scene ones, she proably signed autographs so her fingerprints could be on them or on a contract and how bout DNA which wasnt available then but today is.


Anything that she handled has almost certainly been handled by other people. Even if latent fingerprints could be lifted from documents that she may have touched, what happens when more than one set is found?

I really don't know what kind of DNA evidence was present in 1922, but I'm disinclined to believe that much/any of it remains today. It doesn't sound like the crime scene was maintained very well back then and much of the forensic evidence was probably compromised. If the killer did not come into direct contact with Taylor, his remains would not hold anything beyond ballistic evidence (speaking of which, has anyone sought out his autopsy report? The inquest held on 4 Feb. makes it clear that one was performed). And anyway, when there are so many recent cold cases still unsolved I really doubt the LAPD would spend money on one that doesn't even register on the Kelvin thermometer.

-Harold
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Frederica

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 9:25 pm

salus wrote:. is there fingerprints extant of her and the crime scene ones, she proably signed autographs so her fingerprints could be on them or on a contract and how bout DNA which wasnt available then but today is. She is no more truthful than the fraud who claimed to be Mary Miles Minters daughter.


So would about a gadzillion other fingerprints, assuming you could even lift reasonable prints from paper that old. Not to mention you'd have to have established prints to match said print to, and she may never have been printed. Even if (by some stretch of the imagination) you lifted her fingerprints from a photo and got a match, all you'd have is her fingerprints on a photo. You'd know who she was and that's it.

Bruce, were fingerprints taken at the Taylor residence? Seems like a useless exercise, but it was a new forensic technology at the time, so police were playing with it. More or less effectively.
Fred
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Frederica

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 9:45 pm

Harold Aherne wrote:I really don't know what kind of DNA evidence was present in 1922, but I'm disinclined to believe that much/any of it remains today. It doesn't sound like the crime scene was maintained very well back then and much of the forensic evidence was probably compromised.
-Harold


DNA evidence is recent. You might actually be able to lift some DNA from whatever is left, but you'd never be able to properly identify it because you wouldn't have anything to match it with. The Taylor crime scene looks like a mess to our CSI-addled brains, but that kind of crime scene stampede wasn't unusual at the time. Given the nascent state of the forensic sciences it probably wasn't really that critical.

Bruce has the transcript for the Coroner's Inquest, which has the pathologist's testimony, up at
http://www.taylorology.com/inquest/inquest.pdf
Fred
"Screw the men. I've got the horse."
Helen B. (Penny) Chenery
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Frederica

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PostFri Jul 09, 2010 9:48 pm

Bob Birchard wrote: So, I understand all the reservations about her confession, and I find those reservations quite reasonable. I'm just saying that I believe the story, and anyone else is free to believe whatever they want.


I stand firm on the "I don't know who killed Taylor" thesis.
Fred
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Helen B. (Penny) Chenery
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Bruce Long

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PostSat Jul 10, 2010 1:12 pm

Bruce, were fingerprints taken at the Taylor residence?

Not to my knowledge. So much time had passed between the time the body was discovered and the time the deputy coroner arrived (when it was learned that Taylor had been shot), and so many people had been in and out of the place by then, that the crime scene was pretty well compromised for fingerprints.
I really don't know what kind of DNA evidence was present in 1922, but I'm disinclined to believe that much/any of it remains today.

True enough. If the strands of hair found on his body were still around, and if samples of Minter's hair were also around, then it could be determined if indeed the hair was Minter's. Ed King said it was hers, but I think he was just fishing for a reaction, just like when he planted the fake "psychic phone call" story in the press.
Has Peirce ever revealed her findings?

In an interview in the book "Filming Difference", she states that she thought Minter was the killer.
Bruce will have to confirm, but I've run across tiny news squibs about people confessing to the Taylor murder, as I recall from quite a few years later. I didn't keep them, though, doggone it, maybe he has seen some.

Yes, there were several. Here's a picture of one:
http://photos.lapl.org/carlweb/jsp/Full ... mber=12992
I find it disturbing that you and Bill take the word of an aging dying silent film star wannabe as gospel while you are ready to attack others such as Adela Rogers St. Johns as not being truthful...

Well, one example where St. Johns seems to have been caught not being truthful: In Stuart Oderman's interview with her published here:
http://www.classicimages.com/articles/2 ... sadela.txt
St. Johns says that she was at the murder scene on the the morning the body was found, and that "I rummaged through some of the drawers, and removed what I thought were Mabel's panties." But contemporary press evidence makes it clear that St. Johns was in New York at the time of the murder.
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salus

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PostSat Jul 10, 2010 1:43 pm

It may seem far fetched but if Adele Rogers St. Johns was making up these stories perhaps she was covering up for someone , but being a Hearst reporter she might have been told to sensationalize it.
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rudyfan

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PostSat Jul 10, 2010 1:51 pm

salus wrote:It may seem far fetched but if Adele Rogers St. Johns was making up these stories perhaps she was covering up for someone , but being a Hearst reporter she might have been told to sensationalize it.


Oh, I do not agree with this at all. ARSJ knew how to spin a good tale. She could not possibly have been everywhere she said she was.

In my case, all one has to do is read her "Life Story of The Sheik" about Rudolph Valentino written in 1929 to know she was full of it, way back then. Natural talent for BS (I'll conjecture she got it from her father who was an attorney) that and the fact she outlived almost everyone else. :D

Seriously, Bruce Long has done the most detailed and informative research on the Taylor murder case. Do yourself a favor and read his book and spend about 6 weeks reading Taylorology (it will take that long)
:lol: it's a fabulous resource.
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salus

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PostSat Jul 10, 2010 1:57 pm

It was very strange that Mary headed off to New York and Europe after the murder, Mabel Normand never was the same and eventually died young. Also Mary and her sister where fingering their mother for the murder and even as late as the mid 1960s we have King Vidor telling us that Mary said "My Mother killed everything i loved" Of course this could also mean when her mother had Mary get an abortion.
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salus

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PostSat Jul 10, 2010 2:04 pm

What i dont like about TAYLOROLOGY is that he never talks about Mary , her mom and the others in the case after the 1930s. Didnt the McCleans say anything throughout the remainder of their lives they lived another 40-50 years. And what was Charlotte Shelby doing during the 40s and 50s. And what about the other suspects later life. That was his shortcoming, im sure Mr. Long was more surprised than anybody when this con artist Margaret Gibson/Patricia Palmer's alleged bedside confession appeared out of the blue. There is an elderly police investigator who at 100 was interviewed by Connie Chung (its on Youtube) who was at the scene in those days and he said they all believed it was Charlotte Shelby.
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Frederica

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PostSat Jul 10, 2010 2:18 pm

salus wrote:What i dont like about TAYLOROLOGY is that he never talks about Mary , her mom and the others in the case after the 1930s. Didnt the McCleans say anything throughout the remainder of their lives they lived another 40-50 years. And what was Charlotte Shelby doing during the 40s and 50s. And what about the other suspects later life. That was his shortcoming, im sure Mr. Long was more surprised than anybody when this con artist Margaret Gibson/Patricia Palmer's alleged bedside confession appeared out of the blue. There is an elderly police investigator who at 100 was interviewed by Connie Chung (its on Youtube) who was at the scene in those days and he said they all believed it was Charlotte Shelby.


If it's on youtube, it must be true.
Fred
"Screw the men. I've got the horse."
Helen B. (Penny) Chenery
http://www.nitanaldi.com"
http://www.facebook.com/NitaNaldiSilentVamp"
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salus

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PostSat Jul 10, 2010 3:59 pm

It was a detective who was on the case telling what the consensus was.
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salus

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PostTue Jul 13, 2010 10:48 am

If Gone with the Wind was made with an all silent film cast who would play the roles.............I see either Mary Pickford or Mary Miles Minter playing Melanie, make believe their at the height of their youth fame.
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salus

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PostTue Jul 13, 2010 10:49 am

I believe Billie Dove was offered the role of Belle
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FrankFay

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PostTue Jul 13, 2010 10:54 am

If that picture had been made in the 20's Pickford would NOT have played Melanie- can you possibly see Pickford playing a secondary part? I can't.
Eric Stott
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salus

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PostTue Jul 13, 2010 10:55 am

Forget star power whos personality or acting style was best for the part
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barafan

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PostTue Jul 13, 2010 11:31 am

Well, apologies for coming in very late to this thread. My own 2 cents:

While I like the Charlotte Shelby theory (though, like Mr Birchard, I also put a lot of stock in the Margaret Gibson story - somewhere in my house I have the Unsolved Mysteries broadcast of her confession), I'm inclined to believe it was a random act used by the studios to crack down on the hellraisers (mustn't provoke scandal, you know) and get a good whip hand over obstreperous actresses like Minter and Normand. But that's only my own half-cocked idea.

I do have to disagree about A Cast of Killers - I like the book, despite its mistakes. But I think A Deed of Death is the single most boring book ever written about the Taylor case. I can barely keep my eyes open typing the title!
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