Looking for Mabel Normand

Madcap Mabel Normand

      The personal relationship between Mabel Normand and William Desmond Taylor was from the evidence an intimate one.  Mabel was very careful to keep her private life, private hence the public material would not reflect any relationship. 

The reason articles were in fan or trade magazines or the columns were to promote a project and usually came from the studio publicity department. There were never any projects that would have included a Sennett comedy star and a director from a different studio. Today, performers and filmmakers do not ‘belong’ to a particular studio but have a contract for a picture or control their own production companies but it wasn’t so back when Mabel and WDT was working in the industry. The material was only what the studio wanted the public to know, the studios had very tight control.  

The other type of information that would have been  found in newspaper’s stories; including ‘premiere of movies – accidents – illnesses - birth of a child – marriage – divorce – death – arrests - signing a contract - public fights in speakeasies’ - (you know news); until 1922 there was nothing newsworthy to link Mabel and WDT.

However, there is evidence that of course, they were intimate friends.  WDT carried a locket on his keys, which held Mabel’s picture and engraved “To My Dearest[1]   In the summer of 1921,WDT was in London staying at The Albany and had sent Mabel a little gift…she signed her thank you note… “Miss You Dreadfully All Love – Mabel” this is dated June 25, 1921[2].   There were also the much ballyhooed “Blessed Baby” notes. 

The Mabel Normand's letters (dubbed "Blessed Baby") vanished from Taylor's home. They were never published but Mabel did talk about them; in an article in the Los Angeles Examiner, February 6, 1922 just a couple of days after WDT was killed[3].

They regularly went to the theatre, movies and dinner together (you know they dated).  He sent her flowers 3 or 4 times a week and than there were the gifts and books. On the afternoon of the day he was shot, he had his driver drop off a book of poetry at her home on 7th Street and after work Mabel had dropped by to pickup 2 more books from his bungalow, which he had wanted her to read[4]. 

You might want to read the biography as Mabel told it herself there are stories about WDT there[5].  There is a great deal of information regarding the interaction between Mabel Normand and William Desmond Taylor at Bruce Long’s fantastic website of all things Taylor - Taylorology[6]

There are tons of stories ‘after the fact’ about Mabel and WDT that they were going to be married, etc but Mabel said no. 

[1] picture of locket

[2] photo of cablegram

[3] February 6, 1922; LOS ANGELES EXAMINER was an article titled; Actress Expresses Anxiety to Recover Jesting Letters…"You see, just in a jest, Mr. Taylor called me 'Blessed Baby'—it started at dinner parties we attended together.  And just to tease him, I called him--this great, big, stern-minded man--'Baby' in return.  They were used in our letters; strictly in fun…"Our letters exchanged were mostly 'joshing' ones, frivolous and jesting about the trivialities we had come upon since our last meeting.  Some were of more serious import, explained why dinner engagements we had arranged had to be canceled," Miss Normand said yesterday..."Most of the Letters--there were eight or nine of them--were written when either he and I was in New York and sent from the Ritz-Carlton.  One was when I was ill and told him the difficulty I had in purchasing certain types of golf balls he had requested me to purchase for him in the city.

     "The telegrams, a half dozen of them, were of similar nature merely asking about the health of the other and telling him how I was enjoying the attractions in the metropolis.”

…"In my opinion Mr. Taylor was of irreproachable morals, a typical gentleman, who seemed incapable of stooping to things of the questionable or dishonorable sort.  To me he was always a kindly adviser in my efforts at mental improvement and to all who knew him he was an inspiration to the nobler and loftier things of life”.

[4] “Rosa Mundi And Other Stories” by Ethel M. Dell, popular romantic stories; “A Critical Work on The Writings of Friederich Nietzsche” and earlier “The Home Book Of Verse by Burton Egbert Stevenson” were the three books that WDT purchased for Mabel.

[6] http://www.taylorology.com/new.php

   (here are a few of the things you will find at Taylorology)

               Los Angeles Record, February 3, 1922

   Never Any Love Affair: So Says Mabel Normand

            By Linton Wells

            “If I had been engaged to marry Mr. Taylor, I would be only too proud to acknowledge it.”

            In such manner did Miss Mabel Normand, movie star, reiterate to me her denial of any engagement with William D. Taylor, the director, who was murdered Wednesday evening...

            Tears were in Miss Normand's eyes, her lithe body quivered and shook. She was under a terrible nervous strain. Her voice quavered and broke while she spoke of the dead man.

            “I had known Mr. Taylor for years.”

                       Chicago American, February 11, 1922

Wallace Smith,

. ... “He'd write me little, funny notes, and I'd reply in the same vein. Sometimes I'd draw in a little daffydil, you know, like Tad draws, or a comical sketch of myself.  That's all they were.

“They have said so many things. I was not engaged to marry him, and I was not out with him New Year's Eve.  I was not even in the same hotel with him.”…


Los Angeles Examiner, February 11, 1922

            First Detailed Story By Mabel Normand; ‘All That I Know’

            By Walter Vogdes

…Miss Normand rose and picked up a costly illustrated volume descriptive of the Russian Ballet. Then another large book describing dress throughout the ages.

            “I should like to deny a number of things that have been charged against me,” said Miss Normand.

            “First, that I had told some one that I expected to marry Mr. Taylor. I never said that. Secondly, that I was with him on New Year's Eve at the Ambassador Hotel and that we quarreled afterward.

            “On New Year's Eve I was at the Alexandria hotel with Mr. and Mrs. Mahlon Hamilton. I did not see Mr. Taylor that night.”…


           Sunday News, The News, New York City, June 29, 1924

            Mabel Normand Victim of An Unkind Fate

            by Julia Harpman

…Henry Peavey, Taylor's colored servant, declared that his master had loved Mabel Normand and had intended to marry her. But Mabel denied that she and Taylor were engaged…


They talked of Bertie and his book that last night.http://looking-for-mabel.webs.com/jmbarriemabel.htm