A Deed Of Death: The Story of the Unsolved Murder of Hollywood Director William Desmond Taylor (Hardcover)

A Deed Of Death: The Story of the Unsolved Murder of Hollywood Director William Desmond Taylor (Hardcover)

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Robert Giroux's analysis of the 1922 unsolved murder of film director William Desmond Taylor focuses on the two actresses in Taylor's life--ingenue Mary Miles Minter and Mabel Normand, a star and a drug addict.


Well-born but disinherited Anglo-Irish actor and one-time Yukon prospector William Desmond Taylor was a prominent Paramount movie director at the time of his unsolved murder in 1922. Suspects included his secretary Edward Sands, a thief and forger; Henry Peavey, his Black, gay cook; and two flamboyant screen stars: drug-addicted Mabel Normand, whom he loved; and 20-year-old Mary Miles Minter, who yearned to be his mistress. In a meticulous probe that reads like a detective thriller, editor-publisher Giroux (The Book Known as Q) makes a strong case that the murderer was a contract killer. He shows that Normand had incurred the wrath of dope peddlers, as had Taylor when he tried to help her break her addiction. Brimming with details of Hollywood's silent era and its rampant post-WW I drug culture, this procedural offers glimpses of Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Sam Goldwyn, Mack Sennett, Fatty Arbuckle. Illustrations.--Publishers Weekly

The unsolved murder of movie director William Desmond Taylor has attracted amateur sleuths for years, including director King Vidor, whose findings were revealed in Sidney D. Kirkpatrick's best-selling A Cast of Killers ( LJ 7/86). Strangely enough, Farrar, Straus & Giroux publisher Giroux doesn't mention A Cast of Killers in this book on the case, although he obviously disagrees with its conclusion (that a starlet's mother killed Taylor) and its negative portrait of Taylor. While Giroux fails to provide readers with a solution to the crime, movie buffs will nevertheless appreciate his additional background history on the case and his admirable downplay of the scandals of the silent film era. --Susan Caputo, Library Journal
  • Publisher : Knopf; 1st edition (May 26, 1990)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 275 pages
  • Item Weight : 3 pounds