Looking for Mabel Normand

Madcap Mabel Normand

In June of 1922, Mabel Normand sailed away from her home shore to escape the turbulence that swirled and churned around the death of her dear friend, William Desmond Taylor.  Bruce Long has created a by-line index at his Taylorology site and I went to see who had written what.  I found an account that from some reason, I hadn’t read before. 

I had started to write about her trip but to understand her going to Europe in June perhaps first a reminder of what happened on February 1st would make some sense.
















Los Angeles Record

February 11, 1922

(Copyright, 1922, by the United Press)

Transcribed by

Marilyn Slater

“Looking for Mabel”

October 2, 2009


“My Own Story”

By Mabel Normand


Film Star Writes Story of Last Visit

With Slain Movie Director.


This is my own story of just what happened on the night of my last visit to William D. Taylor, the evening of February 1.


In response to a telephone call left by Mr. Taylor at my home during the afternoon of the day he was killed I stopped at his house between 7 and 7:15 in the evening.


The purpose of my call was to pick up a book which Mr. Taylor had purchased for me that afternoon, knowing particularly that I wanted it.  He had already sent one book to my home but had requested me to stop for this one, which I assumed he had purchased later.


Upon my arrival I was let in by Henry Peavey, Taylor’s valet, who informed me Mr. Taylor was conversing with someone over the phone.  In a few moments, after my arrival Mr. Taylor said good-bye to the party with whom he was conversing and left the telephone.


He greeted me.  He had just finished dinner and his man had cleared away the table but he asked me if I would not let him have something prepared for me or go out to dinner with him later.  I declined, explaining that I was tired and that I had an early studio call to make the next morning.




I said that I intended to go home early, have dinner and go to bed.  For 25 minutes Mr. Taylor and I sat discussing various books and photoplays.


About 20 minutes to eight, I prepared to start for home.  Mr. Taylor walked with me to where my car was parked at the curbing.


There was a copy of the “Police Gazette” in the car which he noticed.  He chided me for having it in my possession, remarking that Freud, Haeckel and Nietzsche were hardly compatible with such literature,


After an exchange of repartee for a few minutes, I finally bade him good night and directed my chauffeur to drive me home.


Before I left, Mr. Taylor promised to phone me at my home within one hour.  He never did.


As William (my chauffeur) pulled away from the curb I looked back and saw Mr. Taylor standing there, gazing after me, I waved my hand.


That was the last time I ever saw Mr. Taylor alive.


Within a few minutes I was at my home.  I retired, having dinner served to me in bed about 8:15.


The first knowledge I had of Mr. Taylor’s death was when Edna Purviance phoned me the following morning about 7:30.  She told me that Mr. Taylor’s valet had been seen rushing from Mr. Taylor’s home, screaming that his master was dead.


I would only be too proud to announce the fact had I been engaged to Mr. Taylor, but such a statement would not be true.


I held Mr. Taylor in highest esteem, regarding him as a very learned, cultured gentleman, with whom any woman might be proud to associate.


Mr. Taylor and I had much in common and during the long period of our friendship I had made a study of the French language and philosophy in which I had been interested for some time.  I am also interested in these things now.


So far as revealing the contents of any letters written by Mr. Taylor to me or me to Mr. Taylor is concerned I have no reason to fear, any consequences which might result from such disclosures except the natural embarrassment of having personal correspondence revealed to the public gaze.