The Ice Cream Blonde

That’s what they called her, sometimes. Thelma Todd made over 100 films, most of them talkies and most of them funny, though perhaps she’s most remembered these days for playing Miles Archer’s widow in the pre-Code The Maltese Falcon (1931), the one with Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade, in which she wasn’t the least bit hilarious.

It was Hal Roach who saw her potential as a comic, and after trying her out as a foil for Laurel and Hardy, paired her off with ZaSu Pitts, then Patsy Kelly, in a series of comedy shorts. Demand for her services was enough to persuade Roach to lend her out on a regular basis, which explains how she ended up in two Marx Bros. films.

Thelma Todd not wearing a whole lot

Thelma Todd posing for some leg art in 1933

Thelma Todd possibly wearing even less

Thelma’s last film was a full-length Laurel and Hardy feature, The Bohemian Girl, released in 1936 after her death by carbon-monoxide poisoning. Roach, worried that a dead star would not be good for the box office, reshot her scenes, though he left in her one musical number:

Thelma Todd was only twenty-nine when she died.


  1. Roger O Green »

    9 January 2018 · 11:23 am

    There are great movie names. Una Merkel is one. ZaSu Pitts is another.

  2. Late Night With Rule 5 Sunday: Stacey Dash : The Other McCain »

    15 January 2018 · 2:04 am

    […] Karen Jensen, and Sex in Advertising is covered by Absolut Lemon Drop. At Dustbury, it’s Thelma Todd and Lupita Nyong’o. […]

RSS feed for comments on this post