But first—The more things change...
The Life and Death of Olive Thomas
The death of American actress Olive Thomas in Paris was the movie
industry's first real scandal. But because it happened so far from home, the
blame was primarily shifted to the decadent environment of the night life in
Paris. A few weeks after her death, a special memorial service was held in
Hollywood; the memorial oration was delivered by William Desmond Taylor.
The following items trace her life, film career, and tragic death. Not
mentioned are the rumors that for a time she was the mistress of Florenz
Ziegfeld. She also had posed nude for Alberto Vargas; his memorial painting
"Memory of Olive Thomas" has been reprinted several times.
(Dozens of items I've left out here intervene.)
September 17, 1920
Mrs. Jack Pickford (Olive Thomas) sailed with her husband on the
Imperator Aug. 12, from New York. Sept. 9 Miss Thomas died at the American
Hospital, Paris, after having taken bichloride of mercury. Denials were
entered in Paris by Mr. Pickford and the friends of his wife of any suicidal
motive on the part of the deceased. The couple were affable toward each
other while on the trip over and often were in the company of fellow
passengers, also known in pictures. The same group often met in London and
Paris up to the time of Miss Thomas' death. Jack Pickford is 23; his wife
was 26. Miss Thomas had been featured with several Ziegfeld productions as a
handsome girl before deserting the stage for pictures. When leaving New York
Miss Thomas was a Selznick picture star, reputed to be under contract to that
picture maker at $3,000 weekly when working. Her type of picture that had
proven the most successful is known as "the flapper" variety.
(From this page of the "Taylorology" website (just read the introduction to see what it's about.)