William Desmond Taylor (Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 4) / by Karina Longworth

William Desmond Taylor) (publicity photo).jpg

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The killing of director William Desmond Taylor was the third in a trifecta of scandals which, over the course of about a year and a half, painted such a sordid a picture of the movie colony as a hotbed of sin that the industry was forced to fundamentally change its way of conducting business. Anger’s telling implies that Taylor’s murder may have been a consequence of the affairs he supposedly conducted simultaneously with several women, including both a starlet and her mother, or related to the fact that Taylor was living under an assumed identity and employing his own brother as his butler. Today we’ll sort out fact from fiction in the Taylor case, and demonstrate how the media frenzy surrounding it had wide-ranging consequences despite the fact that no one was ever arrested for the crime.

 Mary Miles Minter c. 1919

Mary Miles Minter c. 1919

 William Desmond Taylor directing May McAvoy in the silent film Top of New York (1921), several months before his death

William Desmond Taylor directing May McAvoy in the silent film Top of New York (1921), several months before his death

Music:

Original music was composed for this episode by Evan Viola. Most of the rest of the music used in this episode, with the exception of the intro and outro, was sourced from royalty-free music libraries and licensed music collections. The intro includes a clip from the film Casablanca. The outro song this week is “Brainchild” by The Auteurs.

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

The Smoke Room - Gunnar Johnsen

Sophisticated Gentlemen 3 - Magnus Ringblom

My Simple Thing 3 - Peter Sandberg

Bad News Piano 2 - Oscar Collin

Cluedo - Hakan Eriksson

Bad News Piano 17 - Oscar Collin

Black and White - Magnus Ringblom Quartet

Black and White Memories 3 - Martin Hall

Whiskey Rondo - Hakan Eriksson

 Mabel Normand is questioned during the inquest surrounding William Desmond Taylor's death in 1922. (AP Photo)

Mabel Normand is questioned during the inquest surrounding William Desmond Taylor's death in 1922. (AP Photo)

Credits:

Our special guest this week is Fred Savage.

This episode was written, narrated and produced by Karina Longworth.

Editors: Sam Dingman and Jacob Smith.

Research and production assistant: Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

Social media assistant: Brendan Whalen.

Logo design: Teddy Blanks.

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