A Treasury of XXth Century Murder: Famous Players, the Mysterious Death of William Desmond Taylor


Early Hollywood director Taylor is found shot. Was it the star May Miles Minter or a former butler? A scandal sheet delectable murder mystery.

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Early Hollywood director Taylor is found shot. Was it the star May Miles Minter or a former butler? A scandal sheet delectable murder mystery.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The 10th in Geary's ongoing, multi–Eisner-nominated historical murder series, Famous Players tells the story of one of the first major Hollywood scandals. Silent film actor/director William Desmond Taylor was killed in his home in February 1922, not long after popular actor Fatty Arbuckle was also accused of murder. Geary presents the facts of the case in a series of historical chapters, offering up bungled investigative tactics, dead-end leads and a colorful cast of characters, all for the reader to analyze. His quirky b&w ink drawings are full of expression, recalling the melodrama of silent films and giving life to such characters as actresses Mary Miles Minter and Mabel Normand and other early film business insiders. The narrative presents this murder, along with the Arbuckle case, as the beginning of Hollywood's lurid history, which he evokes with a series of plates depicting actors whose tragic deaths are noted beneath. By including not only the Black Dahlia but Natalie Wood, River Phoenix and Phil Hartman, he drives home the point that Hollywood has never escaped its dark past. (Aug.)
VOYA - Laura Lehner
In 1922, Hollywood, California was a rapidly growing center of the film industry, and also a hotbed of decadence—shady deals involving sex and drugs were the norm. When popular actor and director William Desmond Taylor was shot in the back at his home, a hundred rumors immediately sprung up that included drug-addled ex-lovers, angry former soldiers who had served under him, and vengeful employees. The real killer was never identified and brought to justice, but the cast of characters who were legitimate suspects and the detailing of the events leading up to the murder and the investigation afterward make for a compelling tale full of jealousy, hatred, loyalty, and a murderer who walked away from the crime with a wave to the next-door neighbor. This solid addition to the true crime graphic novel genre regrettably omits mention in the title or on the cover that it is a true story. A short bibliography at the beginning of the book indicates it is nonfiction. Even within the limitations of the short graphic format, the story is well told and full of information, the illustrations complement the text nicely, and the author incorporates a brief history of Hollywood and the film industry that is interesting and never tedious. Reviewer: Laura Lehner
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up–This title follows Geary’s successful A Treasury of Victorian Murder (NBM, 2003) in style. It explores and exposes Hollywood’s early glamour days, warts and all. Sophisticated and urbane silent movie director William Taylor was shot to death at home, where he lived alone. The murder, like all the others that Geary portrays, remains unsolved. In addition to exploring avenues of detection and speculation about the crime, Geary also notes race and gender issues of the 1920s and shows how the real people living the Hollywood dream might not have always been what they wanted others to believe. Clothing, hairstyles, and architecture give readers a “you are there” sense, as does the action, which is seen by a somewhat distant observer. An excellent way to introduce teens to the establishment of pop-culture iconography.–Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781561635559
  • Publisher: N B M Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 8/28/2009
  • Series: Treasury of XXth Century Murder Series
  • Pages: 76
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

An award-winning cartoonist and illustrator, Rick Geary has worked for Marvel Entertainment Group, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and Heavy Metal, and has contributed to National Lampoon and The New York Times Book Review.

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