Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Murder of Famous Director Stirs Movie World -- February 1, 2022

Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, 08-February-1922

Director William Desmond Taylor was murdered 100 years ago today, on 01-February-1922. In 2022, the murder is still unsolved. There are lots of books and lots of theories. 

Lake County Times, 03-February-1922




SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 3 -- Among the various phases of the investigation this afternoon a report that Taylor had attended several so-called "snow" parties at which narcotics were served from tea wagons for the purpose of obtaining local color for some of his pictures. The slaying, one detective pointed out, may have been an aftermath of such a party.

Weird narratives of a mystic love cult also entered into the investigation when reports to the police linked Taylor's name with the strange life of the cult leaders. The weird love, which was said to have existed as a part of the cult may have inspired one of the women members to have caused Taylor's death, according to another detective who spent a considerable time in delving into the mysterious and entanglements of the coterie.


(Special Correspondent of the I. N. S.)
(Copyright, 1922, by the I. N. service.)
(Copyright, 1922, by the Chicago Evening American.)

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 3. -- Through the silvered screen on which the moving picture idols troop in silent drama for their millions of admirers, detectives plunged today in a desperate effort to solve the mystery in the slaying of William Desmond Taylor, one of the best-known directors in all filmland.

Behind the screen they ripped straight into the private lives of these public idols. They were ordered to spare no person, however mighty, if their investigation promised to clear the tragedy that stunned the world of movies when Taylor was found shot to death in his S. Alvarado St. home.


He was slain, detectives believe, less than an hour after a visit by Mabel Normand, screen favorite. to whom Taylor was once reported engaged. Three moving picture actresses whose names are household words were spitted over a fire of close questioning by the detectives as they carried on their investigation of the faster moving picture set of Hollywood.

The detectives pointed out that a score of smiling photographs of film beauties smiled down at the ugly scene of death and that a larger one, beautifully framed, must have gazed at the raw crime.

The detectives sent into Hollywood to run down the slayer of Taylor were instructed to overlook no whisper or gossip that might bring the answer to the riddle of death. They were told to inquire especially, it was stated, about a recent "party" where dope, ether, cocaine and morphine took the place of wine (and) whiskey. The party ended in a savage brawl, it was declared, in which two infuriated women attacked each other and fought as men fight until their clothes were ripped off. Both of them the report insists, were prominent actresses whose names are known to the police. They were to be questioned during the day.


One of the first visitors to the home of Taylor after the tragedy had been revealed was Mary Miles Minter who had been directed by Taylor in several pictures. Accompanied by her mother she hurried to the tragic scene. She became hysterical and it was several minutes before she was able to speak.

"He was a wonderful man." she exclaimed, "and everyone who knew him loved him. I don't know of an enemy he had in the world."

Edna Purviance, once leading woman for Charlie Chaplin, who lives near the Taylor residence, returned home at midnight.

"I saw the lights burning in Mr. Taylor's study," she said. "I thought I would just pay a friendly little call. I rang the bell and knocked on the door. When he didn't answer I thought he had gone and left the lights burning. Just think -- all the time I was trying the door he was lying dead just a few feet from me."

Mabel Normand remained in seclusion today in her dainty rose and old ivory boudoir. There she was persuaded to speak of her friendship with the murdered man.


"There was no affair of the heart between us." she said, "in spite of reports that we were engaged to marry. His friendship for me, I always felt, was for a girl who liked outdoor sports he liked and whom he wished to help from the great storehouse of knowledge he possessed.

"Frankly, I liked to go out with him. There was a wondrous dignity and sense of selection in his quiet, well-bred manner. We were the best of pals. I think that tells it better than anything else.

"It seems impossible that such a high-minded man should have an enemy who would murder. And it seems horrible that he should die such a death.

"T regret that my visit to his home should have interested the police. It seems cruel that I should be questioned about it. I have been broken up all day. But I am in the midst of a big picture and must go back to my work as best I can."

Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, 08-February-1922

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