Actress Thelma Todd was born on July 29, 1906 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. She appeared in over 120 motion pictures between 1926 and 1935 of which many were short films, and was sometimes publicized as "The Ice Cream Blonde." Her most notable film credits include Monkey Business and Horse Feathers with the Marx Brothers, a number of Charley Chase's short comedies, and co-starring with Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante in Speak Easily. She also had roles in Wheeler and Woolsey farces, several Laurel and Hardy films, the last of which (The Bohemian Girl) featured her in a part that was truncated by her death.
In her late teens, she began entering beauty pageants, winning the title of Miss Massachusetts in 1925. While representing her home state, she was spotted by a Hollywood talent scout and began her career in film. During the silent era, Todd appeared in numerous supporting roles that made full use of her beauty but gave her little chance to act. With the advent of the talkies, Todd was given opportunity to expand her roles when producer Hal Roach signed her to appear with such comedy stars as Harry Langdon, Charley Chase, and Laurel and Hardy. In 1931 she was given her own series, teaming with ZaSu Pitts for slapstick comedies. This was Roach's attempt to create a female version of Laurel and Hardy. When Pitts left Roach in 1933, she was replaced by Patsy Kelly. The Todd shorts often cast her as a working girl having all sorts of problems, and trying her best to remain poised and charming despite the embarrassing antics of her sidekick. In 1931, Todd became romantically involved with director Roland West and starred in his film Corsair.
Who died on this date:
On July 29, 1983, actor Raymond Massey died. He was born on August 30, 1896 in Toronto, Canada. Drawn to the theatre, in 1922, he appeared on the London stage. His first movie role was High Treason in 1927. In 1929 he directed the London premiere of The Silver Tassie. He played Sherlock Holmes in The Speckled Band in 1931, the first sound film version of the story. In 1934, he starred in The Scarlet Pimpernel and, in 1936, he starred in H. G. Wells's Things to Come. Despite being Canadian, Massey became famous for his quintessential American roles such as abolitionist John Brown in 1940's Santa Fe Trail and again as John Brown in the 1955 low-budget film Seven Angry Men.