Todd maintained her independence off-screen when she helped open Thelma Todd’s Sidewalk Café in 1933 with Roland West, a former director and her some-time lover. The restaurant in Pacific Palisades was a hit with the Hollywood crowd.
Tragically, on Dec.16, 1936, Todd was found dead in her car in the garage above the restaurant. Her death was officially ruled an accident, but theories have swirled around about what really happened. Some have speculated that she committed suicide or was murdered.
In 1989 Andy Edmonds wrote a book in which she speculated that Todd was murdered by mobsters who wanted to open gambling in her restaurant.
The building that housed Thelma Todd’s Sidewalk Café still exists. It is currently occupied by a Christian film company.
Despite her early death, Todd was a talented comedienne credited with pioneering a new role for women in comedies. Her ashes are interred with her mother in Bellevue Cemetery.
Steven M. Painter is the author of “Take Her For A Ride” (Crucson Publishing), a novel about 1930’s Hollywood, available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.