It is the portrait of a wanton. Alberto Vargas painted it in 1920 for Florenz Ziegfeld. [For a larger and uncropped version, click on the image.] The model was Olive Thomas. In 1920 she was a household name, a movie star. In 1915 she had met Ziegfeld who hired her first for the "Follies" and then for the "Frolics," a much racier revue put on after hours in the roof garden of the New Amsterdam Theatre for a mostly male audience. Olive proved a sensation. Then Hollywood called, first in the form of movie offers and then in the person of Jack Pickford, Mary's younger brother. Jack and Olive married. Secretly. Later, Olive would tell an interviewer that she kept the marriage secret for the first year because she did not want to trade on the Pickford name. Only when she was an established star, she went on, did she disclose the union. Mary Pickford's autobiography, a far from reliable source, suggests another reason:

I regret to say that none of us approved of the marriage at that time. Mother thought Jack was too young, and Lottie and I felt that Olive, being in musical comedy, belonged to an alien world. Ollie had all the rich, eligible men of the social world at her feet. She had been deluged with proposals from her own world of the theater as well. Which was not at all surprising. The beauty of Olive Thomas is legendary. The girl had the loveliest violet-blue eyes I have ever seen. They were fringed with long dark lashes that seemed darker because of the delicate translucent pallor of her skin. I could understand why Florenz Ziegfeld never forgave Jack for taking her away from the Follies. She and Jack were madly in love with one another but I always thought of them as a couple of children playing together . . . . — Sunshine and Shadow (1955)

Calling the Ziegfeld Frolics part of the world of "musical comedy" was euphemistic and did not begin to explain why Mary and her sister thought Olive "belonged to an alien world." Olive had already left the Frolics and begun making movies, playing the same sorts of roles Mary did herself, by the time her romance with Jack heated up. The reason she "belonged to an alien world" was that Olive had been a courtesan. Note the cigarette in the poster for the 1916 Frolics. That, together with the hair tumbling down and the flimsy gown slipping from the shoulders, spelled prostitute. In the Follies, the women maintained a strict decorum on stage, no matter how scanty their costumes. In the Frolics, they walked out among the virtually all-male audience clad only in balloons which the men sitting at the tables burst with their cigars. The "offers" Olive had from "rich, eligible men" did not involve marriage. But they were plentiful, according to Sarah Baker, whose pioneering research is the source of virtually all reliable information about Thomas' life. See her Flapper Jane web site which contains the Olive Thomas Homepage.

Apparently Olive was the darling of Conde Nast's Vogue crowd at this point. She was also pursued by wealthy, powerful, and important men from all over the world---German Ambassador Bernstorff, for example, gave her a pearl necklace valued at $10,000.

It was one thing for your younger brother to sow some wild oats. It was quite another for him to marry Olive Thomas.

In France Olive might well have achieved renown in the Folies Bergère. Rich men might have competed for her favors. There was a well-established niche for women like her in the demi-monde. Some even married the aristocrats who kept them. Céleste Mogador became the Duchess of Chibrillon in the 1850s and Liane de Pougy became Princess Ghika in 1910. The new princess was forty-one; her husband twenty. Beyond marriage, there was the possibility of becoming a serious actress. Sarah Bernhardt is the most famous case in point. Léonide LeBlanc is another. Still other courtesans wrote books, detailing their amours and adventures. Indeed, the upward mobility of notorious women out of the demi-monde into society became a serious preoccupation of male authors during the Second Empire and the Third Republic. Such movement threatened class, gender, and moral barriers. [I am indebted to my colleague, Prof. Leslie Coquette, Director of the Institute Française, for the information in this paragraph.]

In the United States, all of these paths out of notoriety were open, and there were other possibilities. Olive Thomas could regain her virginity in the movies. She could go straight from the Frolics to playing the title role in a serial, "Beatrice Fairfax."

Success in that led to other roles, also as ingenues. And with success came publicity generated by the studio. Olive became a "simple Irish girl" who expressed a fascination with the technical side of moviemaking and who doted on her pet dog and her brothers. This, needless to say, is not the Olive Vargas painted.

He painted her nude from the waist. Her left hand clasps her breast, her right holds a rose. Her head is thrown back to get the full frangrance. Her lips are scarlet. You cannot see the violet-blue eyes that Mary Pickford stressed as Olive's best feature, but the long dark lashes are visible. It is a portrait of someone who lives through her senses. Olive died shortly after posing for it. Hence its title, "Memories of Olive." Ziegfeld hung it in his office in the New Amsterdam Theatre, much to the displeasure of his wife, actress Billie Burke. Mary Pickford wrote that brother Jack had taken Olive from the Follies. He had not. She had already started making movies before they met. He took her away from Ziegfeld. She had been his mistress.

Olive was born in 1894 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, a small mill town outside Pittsburgh. It was nicknamed “The Magic City” in the late 1800's after a glass factory opened and the town "grew like magic." But, despite the nickname, Charleroi remained a small town. Her birth certificate read Oliva R. Duffy, according to Sarah Baker who tracked it down along with Olive's marriage license for her first marriage and the divorce decree. Olive sometimes said her real name was Olivetta; the rest of the time she called herself Olive. People who knew her usually called her "Ollie."

Life in Charleroi and other mill towns around Pittsburgh was hard. One friend, Lenore Coffee, wrote:

When barely fourteen, her two sailor brothers when on shore leave, used to take her to a studio where the photographer specialized in nude studies. I don't think, at this stage, she could have realized what many of her poses represented. She only knew that after her brothers had pocketed the money there was usually enough left over for her to buy a new pair of shoes or a new dress and, on especially successful days, sometimes both. — Lenore Coffee, Storyline: Recollections of a Hollywood Screenwriter (1973)

Olive herself, one assumes, was the source of this story. Much of it is simply false. Olive's brother James was born in 1896 and her brother William in 1899. They were twelve and nine when Olive was fourteen. The modeling itself might be true. Her father died in an accident sometime after William's birth. The family drifted about the Pittsburgh area. Modeling would have brought in far more money than any of the jobs Olive might have held in a mill or a shop. And, as the oldest, Olive would have had to help support the family. Probably much of what she earned, from modeling and/or other work, went to her brothers. And she may well have treated herself to the occasional new dress. She certainly had earned it. One must doubt Coffee's view that Olive, at that age, could not "have realized what many of her poses represented." It would have been hard for her to remain a naif for long. Indeed, Coffee herself told a story that suggested otherwise:

Her language was really appalling but she never said anything deliberately to offend. She didn't even know when the words she used were offensive. For instance, once in the lobby of a famous hotel an elderly woman dropped her knitting and Olive, in one graceful, sweeping gesture, picked it up and handed it back, displaying in this gesture a magnificent diamond ring which caught the old lady's eye. "My, how wonderful to have a ring as beautiful as that!" Olive said as carelessly as if she were telling her where to get a cup of tea, "It's easy, honey. I got this for two humps with a Jew in Palm Beach."

Sometime during her childhood her mother remarried. Olive may have seen this as her chance to get out from under family responsibilities. In 1911, still five months short of her seventeenth birthday, she married Bernhard Krugh Thomas in McKees Rocks, another mill town. She was apparently working as a clerk in Kaufman's department store in Pittsburgh at the time. Her husband also worked as a clerk. Whatever Olive might have hoped to gain from marriage, she soon concluded it had been a mistake. Sometime in 1913 or 1914, she left her husband and came to New York City. She might have had a cousin in the city, but she could not have had very much money.

According to Sarah Baker, "depending upon which source you choose to read, Olive was either unemployed or was working as a salesgirl in a Harlem department store" in 1914 when she saw a newspaper story announcing that the celebrated commercial artist, Howard Chandler Christy, creator of the "Christy Girl," would judge a competition to choose the "most beautiful girl in New York City." An example of the "Christy Girl" from the early 1900s is at right. Olive won. Her putative experience as a model, however disreputable, may have stood her in good stead. Or perhaps Christy saw her as a new type of "Christy Girl." [There is a good biographical sketch of Christy with examples of his work and recommendations for further research online at Bud Plant Illustrated Books.]

With her victory came a series of modeling jobs. Christy introduced her to Harrison Fisher who, like Christy and Charles Dana Gibson, had his own "girl." [There is a site devoted to Fisher at National Museum of American Illustration.] She also posed for Penrhyn Stanlaws and William Haskell Coffin who used her for this cover for The Saturday Evening Post. All did magazine work; all specialized in drawing pretty girls. [For examples of their work, see the Curtis Publishing site featuring Saturday Evening Post covers.] And Stanlaws, at least, also painted nudes. Indeed his most famous painting is of Olive, "Between Poses." (1915)

Olive was a success. Marcelle Earle, a Follies regular between 1915 and 1925, recalled:

Two outstanding beauties [of the 1915 Follies] were Kay Laurel and Olive Thomas.  Kay had a perfect body and did semi-nude posing in many Follies and Midnight Frolics.  Kay and Ollie despised each other. I happened to be their sounding board.  Ollie would come to me with nasty digs about Kay and Kay would do the same about Olive. — Midnight Frolic: A Ziegfeld Girl's True Story (1999)

Kay Laurel too modeled for popular artists, including William Glackens who used her in his "Cafe LaFayette." Olive had little to worry about from Kay once she became Ziegfeld's mistress. And she no longer needed to concern herself with her husband. She charged cruelty. He denied it. Whether he did anything worse than try to keep Olive in McKees Rocks is impossible to determine. In any event, after the divorce she kept his name.

Some time just before her twenty-second birthday, in March of 1916, Olive met Jack Pickford. He was not yet twenty. But he was already an experienced philanderer. Having a rich and powerful sister had aided him in making a career for himself in the movies, a fact that did not hurt his chances with the ladies. Or with Olive. But, as noted above, his family disapproved. This did not deter them. On October 25, 1916, Olive and Jack Pickford eloped to New Jersey.

Movie offers were already starting to come her way. The episode she did in the "Beatrice Fairfax" serial led to a contract to do more. Right after the wedding Olive began filming "A Girl Like That." Jack took off for California to make a film there. And, for a while, their careers effectively kept them apart. Then the U.S. entered World War I. As a Canadian, Jack faced a painful choice: Volunteer to serve in the U.S. military or be drafted into the Canadian. Jack chose the U.S. Navy. Olive continued to make movies.

April 14, 1917 MOTOGRAPHY
Follies Girl With Ince
Thomas H. Ince has engaged Olive Thomas, the popular young star of the Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic and featured beauty of a late edition of the Follies, to create important roles in forthcoming Kay-Bee productions. Miss Thomas is now in California, and has already been assigned the lead in one of the first plays that Ince will do under his new arrangement with Triangle. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, about twenty years ago, Olive Thomas became a reigning favorite on Broadway from the night--or morning--that the Ziegfeld Frolic opened, about two years ago, and with the exception of one season when she played the January girl in the 1916 premiere of the Follies, she has been the bright particular star of the revels that have attracted thousands to the top of the New Amsterdam theater. A brunette of the vivacious type, Miss Thomas has grey eyes and golden brown hair that screens unusually well. Despite all of the attention of which she has been the center, she is said to be as simple and charming in manner as though she had never known success. All of the former members of her company have sent her telegrams of congratulation upon her affiliation with Ince, which is a mark of popularity few Broadway beauties can match. Miss Thomas made her screen debut a few months ago with Irene Fenwick in the Paramount production of "A Girl Like That," in which she created an excellent impression. Ince will cast her in roles that will give full play to her sunny and whimsical personality.

Jack devoted his energies to procuring Hollywood hopefuls to sleep with his Navy superiors. His success kept him out of the line of fire. Unfortunately for him, higher-ups learned of his pandering. He received a dishonorable discharge. But the story received little attention. Instead the studio ground out story after story gushing over Olive's many splendid qualities. Below are two examples.

December 1917, Jack Lloyd in PHOTOPLAY
A Broadway Queen Gone West
. . . No one is more popular in the big "lot" at Culver City. In tailored suit and jaunty cap. she strolls about, with a pert offering or a ready reply for everyone. It is one of the legends of the studios that no one can "get ahead" of Olive Thomas in repartee, and no situation is too unusual for her to puncture it with a pungent comment.
. . . "You know," confided Olive naively, "I'd rather eat Boston beans and butter cakes in Childs than the most expensive mess the French chef can dope out in Broadway's most expensive lobster palace." Which is quite some confession. Also, it is added proof of Olive's lack of upstaginess. "Life's too short and fate too funny to get upstage," philosophized Olive. "Today they may be showering us with roses on Broadway and tomorrow some fool director who used to be a waiter may be rejecting us as atmosphere in a five reel five cent feature . . . ."

July 1918 PHOTOPLAY
Olive Thomas complained the other day that she was simply all out of tears. Her director had made the request that she shed a few saline drops over the prostrate form of William V. Mong, who in times away from the camera's stress, raises little piggies and geese, and Olive sobbed and sniffled and thought of all the saddest things in the world, but nary a teardrop would come. "Most times," she said, "I can cry to order, but now I think I'm cried out. First I was called East by my mother's illness, spent weeks with her at the hospital at Pittsburgh where she almost died, and then Jack"--this being Jack Pickford, her husband--"enlisted in the aviation corps and went to war, and--I'm afraid that these bigger things have blotted up the tears that once I could give to the screen." Whereupon her director, hearing the remark about Jack, took her to one side and began talking to her about what might happen to Jack in the war zone. He was still bound to have those tears. But he failed, even though Olive did faint at the railway station when she bade Jack good-bye. "I'm not afraid. Whatever happens, Jack's doing the thing I would want him to do. And I can be brave, too," she said.

Olive had become another American sweetheart, known for her down-to-earth attitude, her incessant curiosity about the technical aspects of moviemaking, her devotion to her family, and her deep love for Jack, from whom she was so cruelly separated by war and career. Moviegoers were apparently untroubled by her move from Frolics girl to ingenue, a change which would have been incomprehensible in France. A different view, one more along the lines of "a leopard cannot change its spots," came from Billy Bitzer, D.W. Griffith's cameraman who described his one encounter with Olive in his autobiography:

"Say, Billy," [Harry] Aitken suggested, "how'd you like to direct a flier for a change, until D.W. gets started again? He might be away a long time. I'll pay you one grand a week, with a bonus if you finish in less than the three weeks the schedule calls for."

The picture was to feature Olive Thomas, a Ziegfeld Follies girl, who later became the first wife of Mary Pickford's spoiled brother, Jack. . . . I took several test shots of Miss Thomas to ascertain her photographic propensities. She had beauty, but she was a type new to me--arrogant, brassy, and curt to the point of being rude...

Even before Griffith warned me that Miss Thomas could not act, I was skeptical of her ability. From the very first rehearsal, she showed a lack of seriousness and any semblance of concentration...

Miss Thomas and I had to go to the costumers in Los Angeles and on the way we passed the Alexandria Hotel. She suddenly decided to stop and refresh herself with a champagne cocktail. I objected. She ordered the car stopped and made off without me. I followed, however, joined her at the bar, and had one cocktail. (She was well ahead of me.) Then I asked her to leave.

"Another drink wouldn't be bad, Billy," she replied.

"Listen, if you don't do as I say and come along, there'll be no picture. Either you come or we're through."

She knew I meant it. Her friend Miss Cassidy joined us at this point. "Don't let that big slob tell you what you can or can't do. Order your drink."

Turning to me, Miss Thomas said, "Go soak your head!" — Billy Bitzer: His Story (1973)

Whatever Olive's acting talents, and only one of her films is available on video, her popularity soared. Hollywood was a crude and amoral place, despite the best efforts of studio publicity people to give the opposite impression, and Olive thrived. Novelist Theodore Dreiser described the battle of the sexes there in 1921:

. . . At this moment, then, literally hundreds of girls and women, for that matter, of the rarest beauty, to say nothing of emotional and dramatic sense, [and] in many cases, business judgment, force, energy, tact and determination, are concentrating with a single-mindedness that would do credit to a Rockefeller or a Schwab . . . . Deprivation, for the moment, is nothing. The tang and sting of the game makes up to them for that. Insults and annoyances are nothing. There are those, no doubt, who even like them. Compromise, if need be, is nothing. They will do anything, all to win, and then smile condescendingly upon those still in the melee, or who retire beaten, having scarcely the time or the spirit to assist any, even if they had the inclination. And if the truth were known, they would not, in many cases, spiritually wipe their feet upon the many who from time to time, in the course of their upward struggle, have compelled them to yield their favors for a price. It is a part of the cost in nearly all cases but not to be looked back upon in many cases with much pleasure. They took it into consideration at the opening of the contest.

Here and there, unquestionably, is a producer, a casting director, a director, etc., who would not, as a rule, disturb anyone, and who seeks only the merit that is necessary for the adequate representation of a given film. But for every one such there are at least five who have no such ethical or commercial standards. They combine business with pleasure as much as they dare, and in not a few cases one might safely add, no pleasure, no business, at least for the more attractive beginner. It may seem a coarse and vulgar thing to report, but so it is. And happy the girl or woman who, a bargain being struck, is so fortunate as to find someone who will honestly endeavor to further her interests. Now nothing could be further from the purpose of these articles than to set up a sentimental defense of the assumed reserve and virtue of many who take up pictures as a profession. Neither is there any puritanic desire to condemn. By far the greater number of girls and women who essay this work know very well beforehand via hearsay or exact information the character of the conditions to be met. And if they do not know it beforehand, they could not be about the work a month before they would be aware of the general assumption of those connected with the work, the males in particular, of course, that all women connected with the work are potentially, if not actually, of easy virtue. Therefore, if they resent this and still linger about the scene, ambition or not, the responsibility is at least in part theirs. And a very large number linger, not only quite willingly, even though they may possess ample means to go elsewhere if they choose, but they rather relish, I think, the very lively war that is here persistently on between the sexes. They are by no means innocents or lambs being led to the slaughter. And not a few relish the personal and emotional freedom which life in this realm provides. — Theodore Dreiser, "Hollywood: Its Morals and Manners; Part One: The Struggle on the Threshold of Motion Pictures," SHADOWLAND, November 1921

Olive was past the point of having to charm directors, as her brusque dismissal of Billy Bitzer showed. She belonged to the Hollywood elite. She was one of those glamourous personages who wore beautiful clothes and expensive jewelry, rode in chauffeur-driven cars, and attended parties with other Hollywood stars and power brokers. Madge Bellamy, who later did become a star, remembered the time she and her mother

saw Olive Thomas, the famous showgirl, emerging from her car.  She wore a black satin dress and a purple picture hat.  Mama thought that she was the most beautiful person she had ever seen.

As we stared at her, Mama heard her say about me, "What a lovely girl!" But I missed that. — A Darling of the Twenties (1989)

Olive had become, in Dreiser's phrase, one who could "smile condescendingly upon those still in the melee." She was a star and had become one without trading on the Pickford name. That she left to Jack. Meanwhile the studio concentrated on making the name Olive Thomas known.

Herbert Howe, "Can a Beauty Have Brains?" MOTION PICTURE CLASSIC, February 1918

. . . One truth shines out self-evident: there ARE beauties in the business. One of the latest recruits to this army of crippled intellects is Olive Thomas, who, coming as she does from the musical-comedy stage, cannot be considered a high-brow of the type that wears bone-rims and talks about "the masses." But what she lacks in mentality she makes up in diviner form. Praise to Allah! And what she may now know about the industry she does not reveal by writing, but instead has demonstrated an appalling inquisitiveness to find out.

A blithe young hurricane could not have created more disturbance than did Ollie that bright morning when she swept thru the gates of the Triangle studio in her shining motor-car. Question-marks sparkled in both eyes! In two hours she knew the nicknames of every man, dog and "prop" on the lot. In two weeks she was ready to direct, turn the camera or design sets. "Madcap" some called her, by virtue of the appropriate title of her first play. "Pep" was another sobriquet. But the director who was given charge of the feminine dynamo preferred "Miss Inquisitive." Every day during the course of production he was volleyed with such questions as: "What do you do that for? Why can't I weep real tears instead of glycerine ones? Why do some actresses smell an onion when they want to cry? Onions make me sneezy, not weepy." The eternal question-mark that punctuated all her utterances became the terror of more than one expert. Soon it became the practice to explain to Miss Ollie all the intricacies of a production before she had a chance to commence her "third degree."

In four weeks she was capable of turning her hand to anything, from taming a wild animal--or director--to building the sets. "Why the thirst for knowledge?" she was asked. "Well, you see, I'm only a 'Follies' girl, and may turn out a flivver star in pictures, so I'd better be prepared for a carpenter's job if necessary. Oh, by the way, why-----" But the other party to the colloquy fled as the question-mark flashed thru the air, and Ollie was left to solve the problem which she had suddenly conjured up. Her interrogative exuberance finally caused the scenario editor to lay down his arms and give her a place at his typewriter, where she proceeded to collaborate on a play. For several days her inquisitiveness was quelled. She wrote with two fingers, and soon wanted to know how she could write with all ten and at the same time be legible. When the play was ready for production and Olive, with her supporters, was removed to the mountains for filming the most important scenes, she inquired if she might direct. Of course that was out of the question. No actress has brains enough to direct. Why, some gentlemen who have never been on a lot say that regular directors haven't enough brains to do it, so how could an ex-"Follies" girl? "But why not?" retorted the irrepressible girl one. Finally, in sheer desperation, the company and director signed a petition asking that Queen Question be given a chance at the megaphone. Thereupon, the electric energies of the young star fairly shot sparks. She directed with a zeal that caused one of the players to moan, "Oh, Lord! it's going to be a regular Keystone--speed--speed--speed! She's a demon for action. Does she ever rest long enough to do anything but ask 'why?' or 'how?'"

Delight Evans, PHOTOPLAY, October 1918
[from an interview with Olive Thomas in Chicago]. . . She's too matter-of- fact even to try to impress you. She told me she hoped to have some real parts to play; something more than simple ingenues. "I might just as well go back on the stage, if they won't give me bigger things to do in the movies. It's all work-work-work out in California; and one likes to feel one's done something to show for it." She showed me some stills for her new picture; she was taking them with her--"to show Jack, in N.Y."

"Toton" is seven reels, and Olive plays a boy in some of it. "This is the first real thing I've ever done, I think. I hope they'll like it. I want them to take my work in it seriously, critically--" Yes, she's the same Olive who was in the Follies, where every girl knows that she may fill her role indifferently, but not her stockings. Olive, you see, is making pictures to show 'em that she can act, too. "At least," she concluded, "it gives me a chance to show what I can do; maybe that won't be much, but I can try."

"Toton" explored a theme already popular in France, the adolescent girl forced to disguise herself as a boy. A number of courtesans who became actresses, including Bernhardt, played such parts. Mistinguette, star of numerous Moulin Rouge revues, often played "pants roles." Later, Louise Brooks would play a similar part. Clearly, the transatlantic influence extended beyond that of the Folies upon the Follies. [Again, I am indebted to my colleague Leslie Choquette for the information in this paragraph.]

Olive's career continued to thrive, and the publicity mills continued to churn out favorable copy:

"Olive Thomas a Selznick Star," NEW YORK TELEGRAPH, December 18, 1918 — Olive Thomas, after all, has not put her name to a Select contract. It was Myron Selznick who corralled the young lady and made her the first star of the Selznick Pictures Company. Several other companies, we hear, had their eye on Miss Thomas, but it was finally Myron who made her believe she had the best chance for fame and fortune by joining his company. He is now "dickering" with several theatrical managers in the hope that he can get a suitable vehicle for Miss Thomas. She wants a play which has had a success on the stage. While no definite plans have been made, young Mr. Selznick expects to produce on the Coast. Miss Thomas is hoping, at any rate, such will be his determination, since her husband, Jack Pickford, is already at work there. It would be, indeed, an unkind trick of fate if she were detained in the East now, for all last Summer and Spring, while she was working in the Triangle studios in the West, her husband was busy in the navy here in New York.

Louella Parsons "Just a Little Irish Girl," NEW YORK TELEGRAPH, May 11, 1919

. . . Olive Thomas came into town a few weeks ago with the Selznick Company. She has since I last saw her become the first Myron Selznick star and created for the screen the baby vamp role in "Upstairs and Down." Broadway has been blazing with electric signs with her name, magazines have been filled with her pictures and the papers have told all about Jack Pickford's wife who, refusing to bank on the Pickford name, went out for herself and signed a contract so alluring in its weekly demands, only a motion picture story could bring it to pass. And Olive Thomas might still be a little girl dancing on the Amsterdam roof in "Ziegfeld's Follies" every night for all the difference this contract makes to her.

. . . I commented on this and on how much I liked her way of being natural, without the temperamental camouflage so many actresses feel a necessity. "I am only a little Irish girl," she said. "Why should I try to pretend to the world I am something wonderful--when every one knows who I am and what I am?" The Pickfords have taken Olive Thomas to their hearts for just that quality. They are themselves wholesome real people, who dislike pretense of any sort. I remember Mrs. Pickford--Mother, as Olive calls her--talked at some length on the new daughter-in-law and gave me to understand she couldn't have done a better job if the had picked a wife for Jack herself. And they are in love with these two young people.

. . . "One of these days," Olive told me, looking at me out of her big blue eyes, "we are going to have a family. I love children. You know I have a little sister 5 years old, the most beautiful child you ever saw. I have teased mother to give her to us, but of course she won't. Little Harriet is my step-sister, but I love her to death. Little Mary Rupp, Lottie Pickford's child, too, is a darling, unspoiled despite all the affection and gifts lavished on her by the whole family. She and I had some pictures taken together--she calls me Aunt Tottle," explained Aunt Tottle, showing me with pride of photograph of herself and little Mary. While Olive Thomas's screen beauty is one of the things which has helped her win stardom, she isn't half as lovely in pictures as she is off the screen. She has light brown hair, with a golden glint. It reaches to her shoulder and falls in soft waves; then her eyes are the blue black eyes which only an Irish heritage can give. She wore . . . a pink negligee, all soft crepe and lace, which brought out the pink in her cheeks. A saucy little dimple in her chin completed a picture Howard Chandler Christy or James Montgomery Flagg might have been glad to have sketched for a magazine cover.

Such was the publicity department's Olive Thomas, cheery, unpretentious, devoted to Jack. The one element of truth in all of this was her beauty. There was also publicity the studio did not create.

VARIETY, September 21, 1917
Jack Pickford, returning from a party at four a.m. Sept. 9, Los Angeles, in his machine, with Olive Thomas, Catherine Walker, Mr. and Mrs. William Gordon and Jack Dillon, crashed into a light truck, demolishing the truck and upsetting the Pickford car and its occupants. Pickford was taken to University police station. The driver of the truck suffered lacerations about the face and body, a fractured hand and concussion of the brain. The occupants of the Pickford car escaped with cuts, scratches and bruises.

LOS ANGELES HERALD, September 5, 1918
A jinx seems to hover over Olive Thomas, Triangle star, and her automobiles. Just before leaving for her vacation in New York, her new roadster figured in a collision in which it came off second best, and, as her coupe was being overhauled, the dainty little screen favorite was forced to resort to the hard-riding taxi.

The other day Miss Thomas and a friend were motoring to the home of Julian Eltinge for tea. Eltinge lives in a castle on top of one of the picturesque Hollywood hills and in making the steep climb the Triangle star lost control of her car, crashing into a stone wall. The machine is now in the "hospital," although Olive and her companion escaped injury. Now Miss Thomas is riding to the studio in a--fliver. And she really owns the auto.

"Olive Thomas Mourning Loss of $5,000 Bracelet," NEW YORK TELEGRAPH, January 3, 1920
There is mourning in the house of Pickford-Thomas, the Pickford in the case being the ordinarily debonair Jack, and the Thomas being Olive Thomas, who, away from the screen, is Mrs. Jack, and neither of the parties will be comforted. That beautiful diamond and sapphire bracelet which Mrs. Jack so proudly displayed to her friends Christmas morning as a present from her spouse is gone, lost, strayed or stolen, . . . and any one finding a little article of adornment, which cost $5,000 in good cash, or giving information which may result in its recovery to the Val O'Farrel Detective Agency can draw down a very substantial reward for his or her services. Mr. and Mrs. Pickford attended the Sixty Club dinner and party at the Ritz-Carlton on New Year's Eve, and just as naturally Mrs. Pickford wore the new present. She knows it was on her arm when she arrived; she believes it was in place after she had been there for some time. After that all memory ceased, until, as the time came for her to go home, or when she was on her way home, she became conscious that it was gone. She has not the remotest idea when it disappeared, and, therefore can only hope that somebody found it who will prefer the reward to the possession of an article which will be thoroughly described for all pawnshops, jewelers and policemen.

These stories named actual names. Others appeared that did not or that used names slightly disguised. These stories purported to tell the real truth about Hollywood and constituted a genre already well developed in France, one Leslie Choquette terms "moralistic pornography." In such stories the reader could find the same graphic depictions of sex as in the pornographic works sold under the counter but with a redeeming soupçon of disapproval. As in France, the points of reference were the legendary centers of ancient sin.

THE SINS OF HOLLYWOOD: AN EXPOSE OF MOVIE VICE: A Group of Stories of Actual Happenings Reported and Written by A Hollywood Newspaper Man [Ed Roberts] May 1922 Hollywood Publishing Co.
Making Sodom Look Sick
Measured by the pace set at some movie star parties there must have been a lot of weak and sterile minds in ancient Sodom and Babylon--Rome and Pompeii. Either that or the historians have been holding out on us--have not told us all there is to tell. Possibly there was a limit beyond which even a Pagan emperor dared not go. It may be that the truth was not so easily suppressed in those days. There was no phalanx of press agents in the armies of the ancients. There were no million dollar advertising appropriations to help still the journalistic conscience. . . .In the light of revealed history it is certain--whatever may have been the cause--that ancient degenerates had to exercise a certain amount of prudence. There were no modern safeguards such as surround the kings and queens of Moviedom. No ramification of interests to suppress the truth at every step. Moviedom's imagination had free play--unfettered, unrestrained it made the scarlet sins of Sodom and Babylon, of Rome and Pompeii fade into a pale, pale yellow!

Not so long ago a certain popular young actress returned from a trip. She had been away for ten days. Her friends felt that there ought to be a special welcome awaiting her. Rostrand [Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle], a famous comedian, decided to stage another of his unusual affairs. He rented ten rooms on the top floor of a large exclusive hotel and only guests who had the proper invitations were admitted. After all of the guests--male and female--were seated, a female dog was led out into the middle of the largest room. Then a male dog was brought in. A dignified man in clerical garb stepped forward and with all due solemnity performed a marriage ceremony for the dogs. It was a decided hit. The guests laughed and applauded heartily and the comedian was called a genius. Which fact pleased him immensely. But the "best" was yet to come. The dogs were unleashed. There before the assembled and unblushing young girls and their male escorts was enacted an unspeakable scene. Even truth cannot justify the publication of such details.

Another recent party that was given by Count ______, a "prince" of a fellow, at his palatial mansion. Nearly two hundred guests were present. A jazz orchestra furnished sensuous music. The guests, women and men, disrobed. Then a nude dance was staged which lasted until morning. Some of the guests were outraged. They departed. Others remained and took part in the orgy which did not stop with mere dancing for some of them. But these nude parties were common. There is another comedian of no mean ability, whose home for several months had been the meeting place of these nude dancers.

With Olive's death came a flood of stories linking her to alcohol and drug use and to sexual promiscuity. Exactly how she died remains a mystery. In August of 1920, just after posing for Vargas, Olive and Jack sailed for France to have the honeymoon they had never had.Once in Paris, Jack left for London for a few days apparently to do some shopping. Then he rejoined his wife. The two went out with some acquaintances and hit several nightspots. According to some accounts, Jack returned to the hotel while Ollie continued to party. According to others, they went back to the Ritz together. In any case, they were both there when Olive went into the bathroom and somehow ingested mercury bichloride. At this point conflicting versions of events and the absence of any definitive answers to crucial questions of fact make sorting out the truth impossible. Some theorized that Olive, in a fit of depression, deliberately took the poison. Others suggested she had mistaken the mercury for aspirin or a sleeping potion. This is Jack's version, as given for publication just a few days after her death; side by side with it is Mary Pickford's account written more than thirty years later in her autobiography.

Forbes W. Fairbairn, LOS ANGELES EXAMINER, September 13, 1920
London, Sept. 12--Jack Pickford and Owen Moore [divorced husband of Mary Pickford and Jack's close friend] arrived in London by airplane this afternoon from Paris for a few days. Pickford gave me the following interview regarding the death of his wife, Olive Thomas, who died Thursday from the effects of poison swallowed early Sunday morning, a week ago: "Olive and I were the greatest pals on earth. Her death is a ghastly mistake. We both canceled work in America to take a belated honeymoon. We were the happiest couple imaginable. Coming over she gave me a big birthday party aboard ship. When we arrived in Paris her only thought was that she had to buy some dresses and then get back home to complete her picture contracts so that we could settle down to have a home and babies.

"I went to London to buy some clothes for myself and arrived back in Paris the fateful Saturday night. We had dinner with a few friends and went to the cafes. We arrived back at the Ritz hotel at about 3 o'clock in the morning. I had already booked airplane seats for London. We were going Sunday morning. Both of us were tired out. We both had been drinking a little. I insisted that we had better not pack then, but rather get up early before our trip and do it then.

"I went to bed immediately. She fussed around and wrote a note to her mother. It read: 'Mamma dear: Well and having a nice time. Leaving here September 11. I will cable you from the boat and will tell you all the news when I arrive. Olive. Love to all.'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"She was in the bathroom. Suddenly she shrieked: 'My God!' I jumped out of bed, rushed toward her and caught her in my arms. She cried to me to find out what was in the bottle. I picked it up and read: 'Poison.'

"It was a toilet solution and the label was in French. I realized what she had done and sent for the doctor. Meanwhile, I forced her to drink water in order to make her vomit.

"She screamed, 'Oh, my God, I'm poisoned!'

 

 

"I forced the whites of eggs down her throat, hoping to offset the poison. The doctor came. He pumped her stomach three times while I held Olive.

"Nine o'clock in the morning I got her to the Neuilly Hospital, where Doctors Choate and Wharton took charge of her.

"They told me she had swallowed bichoride of mercury in an alcoholic solution, which is ten times worse than tabloids. She didn't want to die. She took the poison by mistake.

 

"We both loved each other since the day we married. The fact that we were separated months at a time made no difference in our affection for each other. She even was conscious enough the day before she died to ask the nurse to come to America with her until she had fully recovered, having no thought she would die.

"She kept continually calling for me. I was beside her day and night until her death. The physicians held out hope for her until the last moment, until they found her kidneys paralyzed. Then they lost hope. But the doctors told me she had fought harder than any patient they ever had. She held onto her life as only one case in fifty.

"She seemed stronger the last two days. She was conscious, and said she would get better and go home to her mother.

"'It's all a mistake, darling Jack,' she said. "But I knew she was dying. She was kept alive only by hypodermic injections during the last twelve hours.

"I was the last one she recognized. I watched her eyes glaze and realized she was dying. I asked her how she was feeling and she answered: 'Pretty weak, but I'll be all right in a little while, don't worry, darling.'

"Those were her last words. I held her in my arms and she died an hour later. Owen Moore was at her bedside. All stories and rumors of wild parties and cocaine and domestic fights since we left New York are untrue.

"I am leaving for home Saturday with Olive's body. Her burial will be in New York."

Mary Pickford, Sunshine and Shadow
I cannot blame the majority of people who know the case only from the lurid newspaper accounts of the time for believing that Olive Thomas committed suicide. Yet I am ready to take an oath that Ollie's death was an accident. Jack told me so and Jack would not have lied to me. Moreover, what he said was fully corroborated by several details of the tragedy itself...

 

 

 

 

 

The night of Ollie's death in Paris she and Jack had been doing the night spots. At one o'clock Jack insisted on taking Ollie back to their hotel, since they were leaving for London at seven that morning by plane for London. They were already undressed when a crowd of friends trooped in, scolding them for breaking up the party and ordering them back into their clothes to continue making the rounds until dawn. Jack said he was too tired. The crowd finally left. Jack went to bed and Ollie started to write a letter to her mother, outlining their future plans. The unfinished letter was still on the desk after she was taken to the hospital.

Jack awakened with the light in his eyes, surprised to see Ollie still up.

"Please come to bed, darling," he said, "it's so late, and I can't sleep with that light on."

Ollie answered petulantly, "You don't care that I can't sleep, do you? I've got an awful headache."

Ollie turned out the lights and went to the window overlooking the street.

"Why don't you take an aspirin?" Jack said, and went back to sleep. Again he was awakened, by a crash and a scream. Ollie was standing in the darkened bathroom. Jack rushed to her side.

" Quick, Jack," she said, "turn the light on and see if the bottle with the bichloride of mercury tablets is in the cabinet?"

Jack looked and said, "No, Ollie; only the aspirin bottle is here."

Ollie gave another scream. "Then I've taken poison!"

Ollie had put the mercury tablets somewhere else, but the maid had evidently placed the bottles, which were of the same size, side by side on the shelf of the medicine cabinet. Jack tried to wash out Ollie's stomach by giving her twelve to fifteen glasses of tepid water. Then he dashed downstairs to secure melted butter and milk. But everything was tightly locked, kitchens and iceboxes, and no one was around but the night watchman. After a frantic search Jack obtained the milk and butter. In the meantime he tried to get the American hospital on the telephone. An ambulance arrived, but only after much precious time had been lost.

Ollie lived for one week, and that one week, according to the doctors, she owed to Jack's quick thinking in giving her the warm water, milk, and melted butter. When someone who was Catholic entered her room at the hospital, Ollie would look up with those pained velvet-blue eyes of hers and say:

"Please pray to God to leave me with my baby husband!"

She fought a hopeless battle, dying, finally, in my brother's arms. As if that were not torture enough, Jack had to wait an entire week while the French authorities made a painstaking investigation of the case. Finally they ruled it was an accident and not suicide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jack crossed the ocean with Ollie's body. It wasn't until several years later that he confessed to Mother how one night during the voyage back he put on his trousers and jacket over his pajamas, went up on deck, and was climbing over the rail when something inside him said: "You can't do this to your mother and sisters. It would be a cowardly act. You must live and face the future." —

Mercury bichloride was a well-known drug, commonly used for treating syphilis. During the war, the federal government, as part of its campaign to prevent the spread of venereal disease among the troops, used the slogan: "One night with Venus means years with mercury!" Most readers of the stories of Olive's poisoning could infer why the drug was in their bathroom cabinet. Someone, Jack, Olive, or both had syphilis. Later a doctor would claim he had written a prescription for the drug for Jack in 1918. The usual term of treatment for syphilis was three years. Whether Olive also was using the mercury is unknown.

In any case, neither Jack's account nor Mary's is plausible. Some of the liberties he took with the truth are understandable. Saying the bottle of mercury bichloride was a toilet cleanser saved him the embarassment of admitting to having a venereal disease. Saying that he and Ollie were the happiest of couples spared him the anguish of reliving old quarrels. Presumably, his account to his sister would have been more candid. But both avoided a central fact. Ollie swallowed a whole bottle. That is not something she could have done by accident. The day before Jack's interview appeared, C. F. Bertelli, also writing in the LOS ANGELES EXAMINER, reported from Paris:

"Dr. Warden, famous poison specialist, who had charge of the case toward the end, declared a police investigation into the circumstances under which Miss Thomas died would be of the utmost value in revealing the facts. "It would show," he said, "whether Miss Thomas committed suicide, as the medical evidence indicates, or whether she took the stuff by mistake, as claimed.

"Personally, I am convinced that if she had taken a sleep potion in the same quantity as she took the poison she would be dead just the same."

Bertelli also reported in the same dispatch:

. . . Police Commissioner Catrou, assigned to examine into the circumstances under which Miss Thomas came to her death, returned a finding of accidental death.
. . . "Owing to Mrs. Pickford's dying without making a statement and also because of the fact that she was alone when she took the poison, the only possible verdict is accidental death by poisoning." Such was the summing up of M. Catrou as submitted to the higher officials. His inquiry dealt only with the causes of death, Jack Pickford, the physicians and Mrs. Florence W. Wufelt, who says she was Olive's best friend, being the only witnesses.

This was hardly the police investigation Dr. Warden had in mind. Leslie Choquette's research into the Paris police archives suggests that bribery was common. Morals cases against club owners involving the sexual abuse of children consistently were dismissed. Whether anyone bribed Commissioner Catrou or one of his superiors is unknown and probably unknowable. But Olive lingered for days. The police not interview her. According to Jack, she was able to talk right up to the end. They needed only to ask a handful of questions in order to ascertain what had happened.

The medical evidence, according to Dr. Warden, suggested suicide. So did a number of early newspaper accounts.

Forbes W. Fairburn, LOS ANGELES EXAMINER, September 11, 1920
London, Sept. 10--Olive Thomas, broken-hearted and temporarily unbalanced, who died in the American hospital at Neuilly today from mercurial poisoning, was convinced that she could never again bring herself to live with her husband, Jack Pickford. Such is the story of the tragedy that came to London today in a letter to an intimate friend from a screen star on close terms with Pickford and his wife and who was in Paris the night Miss Thomas took the bichloride of mercury. According to the letter, the pair were enjoying an unbelievably happy "second honeymoon" when an interruption came. Jack made a hurried trip to London, August 25. When he rejoined his wife in Paris, Olive, the letter said, had told Jack that further life with him would be abhorrent and impossible. Then, the letter continued, came the wild party of Saturday night. The letter declares that Miss Thomas took a large dose of cocaine immediately preceding the swallowing of the bichloride of mercury. (This is not borne out by the physician's statement.) She did not have medical attention until some time afterward.

If Olive did kill herself, it was a most uncharacteristic act. Her recently released film, "The Flapper," with her in the title role, was a box office success. She was earning $3000 a week, about what she and her first husband would have earned together in a year if she had stayed in western Pennsylvania. She was a star. True, her marriage was not going well. She might have decided that Jack's trip to London, just as their "honeymoon" in Paris was supposed to begin, was the last straw, although one doubts she used the word "abhorrent" in telling him. Whether the problems in her marriage threw her into despair is a different question. Up until the moment she ingested the poison, Olive had been a survivor. She had had a grim childhood, an unhappy early marriage. She had moved to New York, divorced her husband, and become a model for leading illustrators, then a star of the Follies, then of the Frolics, then in the movies.

What of her drinking and reputed but unproved drug use? Might this suggest a self-destructive impulse? Possibly. But Olive's behavior was commonplace in the Hollywood and New York worlds she had inhabited. Writing of the young women who struggled to make it in those worlds, Theodore Dreiser remarked:

. . . most of those who eventually undertake the struggle are already mentally liberated from most of the binding taboos which govern in the social realms from which they emanate. And many of them have already long resented them. — "Hollywood: Its Morals and Manners; Part One: The Struggle on the Threshold of Motion Pictures"

That certainly described Olive. She had long before cast convention aside. Far from being punished, she had been rewarded — with jewels, with fame, with money. It is hard to make a case that commonplace behavior is a symptom of anything, harder still when that behavior brings success and fulfillment. We will never know the real story of Olive's death. Nor can we fill in many of the details about her life

. What we can pin down with tolerable accuracy are the fantasies she embodied. If we can credit the story about modeling nude for the photographer in Pittsburgh, the initial fantasy was of the sexually available but innocent child. Next came the poor shop girl discovered by a famous artist and who then became "the girl on the magazine cover." [A recent study is Carolyn Kitch, The Girl on the Magazine Cover: The Origins of Visual Stereotypes in American Mass Media (2001).] Had she actually worked in a New York department store? No one at the contest for selecting the "most beautiful girl in New York" checked the contestants' bona fides. The contest was a circulation gimmick intended to increase readership among the city's working women who could identify with the winner and dream of being rescued from their own workaday lives. While posing decorously for illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post and other mass circulation magazines, Olive also modeled for Penrhyn Stanlaws in the nude. "Between Poses." — an oxymoron — was an artist's fantasy. For a moment, the model was not posing but simply fussing with her hair.

Then came the Ziegfeld Follies girl and the Frolics girl. The shop girl had become a "gold digger," an expression just coming into use to describe show girls who cadged jewelry and other presents from "Stage Door Johnnies" in return for a hump or two. Innocence played no part in this fantasy. Instead male patrons could imagine themselves gaining the favors of a famous beauty, one totally without sexual restraint. Yet it mattered that the beauty in question could look refined. Like many a fantasy, this one involved having your cake and eating it too.

Had Olive been a star of the Folies Bergère, she would also have had her choice of admirers willing to compete for her. The United States did not have a recognized "demi-monde," however. Here Olive could move on to embody other fantasies. On screen she began as an ingenue. Below is a still from "Out Yonder." Note the ringlets, a characteristic of sister-in-law Mary Pickford. They were a sign of sexual innocence, of virginity. Pickford wore them in film after film, always playing "America's Sweetheart." Even after her divorce and her well-publicized affair with Douglas Fairbanks before marrying him, Pickford continued to play the same roles. And audiences continued to flock to see her movies. Fantasy was a commodity.

Unlike her sister-in-law, Olive did not remain a perpetual virgin on screen. Instead she moved on to play the baby vamp in "Upstairs and Down," and then "The Flapper." In essaying the vamp, she was returning to the fantasy she had embodied in the Follies and Frolics. The baby vamp looked respectable but was actually a gold digger. The flapper was the opposite, a young woman who openly flaunted her unwillingness to abide by the conventions of the Victorian Age but who also yearned to find her own true love and settle down and live happily ever after. In France, La Garçonne, a best-selling novel of the 1920s, explored the flapper.

Joan Crawford, Clara Bow, and Louise Brooks would all follow in Olive's cinematic footsteps. The flapper became the symbol of the new generation of women. Olive's performance in the first movie to use the term probably was soon forgotten. But she nonetheless set the pattern. For a summary of Olive's film career, complete with information about casts and storylines, see Sarah Baker's filmography page at her Olive Thomas Homepage. [A discussion of the origins of the modern young woman is What Sadie Knew on this site.]

Off screen Olive lived out the fantasy of countless young women who hoped someday to become movie stars. She wore the stunning clothes and the expensive jewelry, drove around recklessly in fancy cars, attended glamorous parties. Fan magazines detailed, with little concern for accuracy, her every move. It was the fantasy of the movie star life that sold magazines. The same sources also hinted at darker fantasies of orgies, of opium parties, of nude dances.

Olive also lived out fantasies of her own, with and without Jack. Neither, as the expression of the time had it, had the morals of an alley cat. Olive could not afford morals, if she was to escape the mill towns of her childhood. She had to exploit her one saleable asset, her ability to fascinate men. Jack could afford not to have morals. He spent his adolescence proving that he could do whatever he wanted. His sister's position in Hollywood insulated him from the consequences. Then he and Ollie met. They liked the same things, beginning with sex. Both intended to cram as much pleasure into their lives as possible. Olive's metaphor for this was dancing. She told Elizabeth Peltret in an interview published in the June 1919 issue of MOTION PICTURE:

"Jack . . . is a beautiful dancer. He danced his way into my heart. We knew each other for eight months before our marriage, and most of that time we gave to dancing. We got along so well on the dance floor that we just naturally decided that we would be able to get along together for the remainder of our lives."

Fantasy dictated their lives. They danced, they drank, they drove too fast, they gave each other extravagant presents. They longed for each other during their long separations. But each also knew what the other was up to during those times apart. Olive knew about Jack's dishonorable discharge for procuring women for officers in return for safe and easy assignments. Jack presumably knew of Olive's posing for the Vargas portrait. They both knew about syphilis. And about mercury bichloride.

With the Vargas portrait we come to the last fantasy Olive embodied during her lifetime, Ziegfeld's. He made a career out of creating fantasies for others. Edmund Wilson described Ziegfeld's art is these terms:

Mr. Ziegfeld has now "Glorified the American Girl" in a very real sense. He has studied, with shrewd intelligence, the American ideal of womanhood and succeeded in putting it on the stage. In general, Ziegfeld's girls have not only the Anglo-Saxon straightness—straight backs, straight brows, and straight noses—but also the peculiar frigidity and purity, the frank high-school-girlishness which Americans like. He does not aim to make them, from the moment they appear, as sexually attractive as possible, as the Folies Begères, for example, does. He appeals to American idealism, and then, when the male is intent on his chaste and dewy-eyed vision, he gratifies him on this plane by discreetly disrobing his goddess. — "The Follies as an Institution," The New Republic, April 1923

Olive had quite successfully suggested that "frank high-school-girlishness," but Ziegfeld himself had wanted something quite different from his mistress. He had wanted a frank wantonness; he had wanted someone given over to the pleasures of the body. The measure of Olive's success in sustaining that fantasy, one that so closely mirrored her own, lies in Ziegfeld's decision to hang Vargas' painting in his office where he could look at it every day.

This fantasy did not remain Ziegfeld's alone for long. Olive was the first "Varga Girl," as Vargas' pin-ups came to be known. Reproductions of "Memories of Olive" are among the best-selling of his works. Even before poster versions of the picture came on the market, moreover, it provided the original for the cover art for Playthings of Desire (1924), the "photoplay" edition of J. Wesley Putnam's novel which had been made into a movie starring Estelle Taylor.

We do not know the identity of the illustrator who drew the cover, but there is no question that he or she portrayed Estelle Taylor as Vargas' Olive Thomas. The posture is the same with the exception that Taylor's right hand clasps that of her leading man and her left more decorously touches her heart. The flower is in her hair. But the eyes are identical as are the nose and neck. Even the spit curls are the same. Why portray Taylor in this fashion? Playthings of Desire nicely describes Olive and Jack.

Olive Thomas continues to inspire fantasies. An online article OLIVE THOMAS (1894-1920), THE MARILYN MONROE OF THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY by Joyce E. Eberly appeared on November 29, 2002. There is even, for AOL members, "The New Olive Thomas Coven."