Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Who Killed William Desmond Taylor?

Reunited

William roamed from state to state, once again a traveler working at odd jobs. For a while, he panned for gold in Colorado and Alaska. Eventually, he got to San Francisco where the stage beckoned to him again. Before long, he became involved in the film industry, which was still in its infancy.

Like so many others, he changed his name. Film director Allan Dwan is quoted in Sidney D. Kirkpatrick's A Cast of Killers as saying, "Taylor's name choice was brilliant. It sounded like someone from an English novel, the kind Hollywood liked making into films."

At first, the renamed William Desmond Taylor got small parts in Westerns. Directors and producers saw that the handsome actor could do the job so he was given the starring role of Robert Wainwright, leader of a band of rebels, in Captain Alvarez. His experience with horses at Runnymede must have helped him in making this movie since an article about the film called him "a wonder in the saddle."

His ex-wife, Ethel May, happened to be in a theater with her daughter Ethel Daisy when his familiar face unexpectedly showed up on the screen. "That's your daddy," a startled Ethel May whispered to the younger Ethel. 

Happily remarried, Ethel May did not use this opportunity to display the legendary "fury of the woman scorned." Instead, she arranged for Ethel Daisy to correspond with, and eventually meet and develop a relationship with, her father.

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