|Name:||William Desmond Taylor|
|Birth Day:||April 26, 1872|
|Death Date:||1 February 1922(1922-02-01) (aged 49)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Birth Place:||Carlow, United States|
|#1||Ethel Daisy Tanner||Children||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#2||Ethel May Harrison||Spouse||N/A||N/A||N/A|
As per our current Database, William Desmond Taylor died on 1 February 1922(1922-02-01) (aged 49)
Los Angeles, California, U.S..
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
William Cunningham Deane-Tanner was born into the Anglo-Irish gentry on 26 April 1872, at Evington House, County Carlow, Ireland, one of five children of a retired British Army officer, Major Kearns Deane-Tanner of the Carlow Rifles, and his wife, Jane O'Brien. Taylor's siblings were Denis Gage Deane-Tanner, Ellen "Nell" Deane-Tanner Faudel-Phillips, Lizzie "Daisy" Deane-Tanner, and Oswald Kearns Deane-Tanner. One of his uncles was Charles Kearns Deane Tanner, the member of parliament for Mid Cork.
From 1885 to 1887 Taylor attended Marlborough College in England. In 1891, he left Ireland for a dude ranch in Kansas. There, Taylor became reacquainted with acting (his first experiences being at school) and eventually moved to New York City.
While in New York, Taylor courted Ethel May Hamilton, an actress who had appeared in the stage musical Florodora under the name Ethel May Harrison. Hamilton's father was a broker and an investor in the English antiques store on Fifth Avenue, the Antique Shoppe, which eventually employed Taylor. The couple married in an Episcopal ceremony on 7 December 1901 at the Little Church Around the Corner, and had a daughter, Ethel Daisy, in 1902 or 1903.
Taylor and his family were well known in New York society and were members of several clubs. He was also a heavy drinker, possibly suffered from depression, and was known to carry on affairs with women. Taylor suddenly disappeared on 23 October 1908, deserting his wife and daughter. After his disappearance, friends said he had previously suffered "mental lapses", and his family thought initially he had wandered off during an episode of amnesia. Taylor's wife obtained a state decree of divorce in 1912.
In Hollywood, Taylor worked as a film actor starting in 1913, including four appearances opposite Margaret "Gibby" Gibson. He directed his first film, The Awakening, in 1914, as an actor-director. Over the next few years, he directed more than fifty films. Between 1914 and 1919, Taylor was engaged to actress Neva Gerber, whom he had met during the filming of The Awakening. Gerber later recalled, "He was the soul of honour, a man of personal culture, education, and refinement. I have never known a finer or better man."
Around 1915, Taylor made contact with a sister-in-law, Ada Brennan Deane-Tanner, wife of Taylor's younger brother Denis. A former British Army lieutenant and manager of a New York antiques business (separate from Hamilton's), Denis had also abandoned his wife and children, disappearing in 1912. Ada and her daughters moved to Monrovia, California, where Ada could be treated at the Pottinger Sanitorium for tuberculosis. Ada's sister, Lillian Pomeroy, was married to the sanitorium's physician in charge, Dr. John L. Pomeroy. This would become public after Taylor's murder, and the press descended upon the little town of Monrovia.
Margaret Gibson was a film actress who had worked with Taylor when he first came to Hollywood. In 1917, she was indicted, tried, and acquitted on charges equivalent to prostitution (also with allegations of opium dealing), after which she changed her professional name to Patricia Palmer. In 1923, Gibson was arrested and jailed on extortion charges, which were later dropped. She was 27 years old and in Los Angeles at the time of Taylor's murder. No record of her name was ever mentioned in connection with the investigation. Soon after the murder, Gibson got work in a number of films produced by Famous Players-Lasky, Taylor's studio at the time of his death. Shortly before she died in 1964, Gibson reportedly confessed to murdering Taylor.
Towards the end of World War I, in July 1918, Taylor enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force as a private. After training for four and a half months at Fort Edward, Nova Scotia, Taylor sailed from Halifax on a troop transport carrying 500 Canadian soldiers. They arrived at Hounslow Barracks, London on 2 December 1918.
Taylor was ultimately assigned to the Royal Army Service Corps of the Expeditionary Forces Canteen Service, stationed at Dunkirk, and promoted to the temporary grade of lieutenant on 15 January 1919. At the end of April 1919, Taylor reached his final billet at Bergues, France, as Major Taylor, Company D, Royal Fusiliers. Upon returning to Los Angeles on 14 May 1919, Taylor was honoured by the Motion Picture Directors Association with a formal banquet at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
After returning from military service, Taylor went on to direct some of the most popular stars of the era, including Mary Pickford, Wallace Reid, Dustin Farnum and his protégée, Mary Miles Minter, who starred in the 1919 version of Anne of Green Gables. By this time, Taylor's ex-wife and daughter were aware that he was working in Hollywood. In 1918, while watching the film Captain Alvarez, they saw Taylor appear on the screen. Ethel responded, "That's your father!" In response, Ethel Daisy wrote Taylor in care of the studio. In 1921, Taylor visited his ex-wife and daughter in New York City and made Ethel Daisy his legal heir.
Edward F. Sands had prior convictions for embezzlement, forgery, and serial desertion from the U.S. military. Born in Ohio, he had multiple aliases and spoke with an affected cockney accent. Sands had worked as Taylor's valet and cook until seven months before the murder. While Taylor was in Europe the summer before in 1921, Sands had forged his name on cheques and wrecked his car. Later, Sands burgled Taylor's bungalow, leaving footprints on the film director's bed. Following the murder, Sands was never seen or heard from again.
Taylor's funeral took place on 7 February 1922, in St. Paul's Cathedral. After an Episcopal ceremony, he was interred in a mausoleum at Hollywood Cemetery, now named Hollywood Forever Cemetery, on Santa Monica Boulevard. The inscription on his crypt reads, "In Memory of William C. Deane-Tanner, Beloved Father of Ethel Deane-Tanner. Died 1 February 1922."
Ultimately, Normand continued to make films throughout the 1920s. She died of tuberculosis eight years later on 23 February 1930. According to her friend and confidante Julia Brew, Normand asked her a few days before she died: "Julia, do you think they'll ever find out who killed Bill Taylor?"
In 1931, Peavey died in a San Francisco asylum where he had been hospitalized for syphilis-related dementia.
Shelby knew the Los Angeles district attorney socially and spent years outside the United States, in an effort to avoid both official inquiries by his successor and press coverage related to the murder. In 1938, her other daughter, actress Margaret Shelby (who was by then suffering from both clinical depression and alcoholism), openly accused her mother of the murder. Shelby was widely suspected of the crime and was a favorite suspect of many writers. For example, Adela Rogers St. Johns speculated that Shelby was torn by feelings of maternal protection for her daughter and her own attraction to Taylor.
However, facsimiles of Minter's passionate letters to Taylor were printed in newspapers, forever shattering her screen image as a modest and wholesome young girl. She was vilified in the press. Minter made four more films for Paramount Pictures, and when the studio failed to renew her contract, she received offers from many other producers. Never comfortable as an actress, Minter declined them all. In 1957, she married Brandon O. Hildebrandt, a Danish-American businessman. She died in Santa Monica, California, on 4 August 1984.
Although Shelby feared being tried for the murder, at least two Los Angeles County district attorneys publicly declined to prosecute her. Almost twenty years after the murder, Los Angeles district attorney Buron Fitts concluded evidence was insufficient for an indictment of Shelby and recommended that the remaining evidence and case files be retained on a permanent basis (all of these materials subsequently disappeared). Shelby died in 1957. Fitts, in ill health, committed suicide in 1973.
Through a combination of poor crime scene management and apparent corruption, much physical evidence was immediately lost and the rest vanished over the years, although copies of a few documents from the police files were made public in 2007. Various theories were put forward after the murder and in the years since, and many books were published, claiming to have identified the murderer, but no conclusive evidence has ever been uncovered in linking the crime to any particular individual.
In Taylor's pockets, investigators found a wallet holding US$78 in cash (adjusted for inflation in 2020 would be approx. $1,190), a silver cigarette case, a Waltham pocket watch, a pen knife, and a locket bearing a photograph of actress Mabel Normand. A two-carat diamond ring was on his finger. With the evidence of the money and valuables on Taylor's body, robbery seemingly was not the motive for the killing; however, a large but undetermined sum of cash that Taylor had shown to his accountant the day before was missing and apparently never accounted for. After some investigation, the time of Taylor's death was set at 7:50 pm on the evening of 1 February 1922.
Currently, William Desmond Taylor is 149 years, 7 months and 2 days old. William Desmond Taylor will celebrate 150th birthday on a Tuesday 26th of April 2022.
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