From the author of Turning the Tide comes a riveting Hollywood expose filled with sex, glamour, mystery, and corruption--a true crime classic. In 1967, director King Vidor took it upon himself to attempt to solve the 1922 murder of flamboyant director William Desmond Taylor. This mesmerizing account reconstructs the full shocking truth of the ...
From the author of Turning the Tide comes a riveting Hollywood expose filled with sex, glamour, mystery, and corruption--a true crime classic. In 1967, director King Vidor took it upon himself to attempt to solve the 1922 murder of flamboyant director William Desmond Taylor. This mesmerizing account reconstructs the full shocking truth of the murder that was too scandalous even for Hollywood. Photographs.
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I found this in a B&B in Naples Maine and ordered it to finish it. It was a very good tale from the era of Errol Flyn and Valentino.Pre- DNA mystery.
Oct 21, 2007
What a story!
Sidney Kirkpatrick pieces this story together from notes and files left by film director King Vidor after his death.
Vidor had always been fascinated by the unsolved murder of the actor/director William Desmond Taylor in 1922. The headline-driven murder case was one of several Hollywood scandals of the era and involved not just the famous victim, but an array of big stars, sex, drugs, blackmail, corruption, and a failed justice system.
Vidor and long-time friend Colleen Moore (a major star of the silent screen) attempted to produce a film based on the murder, and Kirkpatrick uses Vidor as the protagonist in this story as he attempts to find the truth and solve the murder.
What Vidor discovers is an amazing case of studio interference, police corruption, lies, blackmail, and death threats that went on for deacdes after the murder. Vidor discovers vital evidence that is hidden and never introduced in court, other evidence that is planted at the scene of the crime, newspapers that printed all kinds of outrageous stories and veered investigators away from the truth, a manipulative stage mother, and 2 actresses who saw their careers end because of the endless implications of their involvement in the crime.
Mabel Normand and Mary Miles MInter were accused in headlines of being involved in the murder. Their film careers virtually ended. Minter's mother, Charlotte Shelby is exposed as being a monster. Taylor himself is discovered to have had all kinds of secrets. Vidor interviews still-living witnesses, police, and Hollywood contemporaries of the principals, including Gloria Swanson.
The story is incredible and beyond anything a Hollywood writer could have dreamed up. Although Vidor and Moore never mounted this story as a film, Vidor did a great service in solving the case and exposing the corruption. Vidor finally clears the great Mabel Normand of any wrong doing. The interview between Vidor and MInter in her rotting mansion is haunting.
This could still be a great movie. The book is a terrific read for anyone who likes mystery stories, old Hollywood, or just a fascinating story.
Publishers Weekly, 1986-05-02 As he was researching his ``official'' biography of King Vidor, the late film director, Kirkpatrick made the discovery on which this true crime story is built. Vidor, planning to make a movie about William Desmond Taylor, murdered in 1922, set out to investigate the unsolved crime 45 years later. Taylor had been a famous director of silents and his death was a sensation that ruined the careers of actresses Mary Miles Minter, Mabel Normand (the victim's reputed lovers) and other Hollywood luminaries. Kirkpatrick skillfully leads the reader into Vidor's search as the director studies old files and questions people in the movie colony who remembered those involved in the tragedy. The result is a riveting mystery. In his dramatic reconstruction, Kirkpatrick uncovers Vidor's convincing evidence, never disclosed by the director, that Taylor was killed by the mother of ingenue Minter. Photos not seen by PW. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour. (June
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