Biography on William Desmond Taylor
On February 1, 1922 at approximately 7: 50 A.M, director and actor William Desmond Taylor was murdered. The murder of William Desmond Taylor to this day has not been solved. They were several speculations as to who murdered him. After reviewing the evidence, I believe that Charlotte Shelby murdered him. The evidence all points to the mother of the young love interest of Taylor: Mary Miles Minter. The paths that Taylor and Shelby both took are what ultimately led to the death of William Desmond Taylor.
William Desmond Taylor was born on April 26, 1872 in County Carlow, Ireland under the name William Cunningham Deane-Tanner. He was the son of British army officer Major Kearns Deanne Tanner and his wife Jane O’Brien. He was one of five children. At the age of 18 he left his home and moved to the United States after having a fall-out with his father. He worked at a dude ranch in Kansas before moving to New York. In 1901 he married Ethel May Harrison and had one daughter named Ethel Daisy Deane-Tanner in 1903. Not able to support his family as actor, Taylor worked as an antique dealer instead supported by his wealthy father-in-law. He gained a respectable position in New York and society and was well-admired by many people. On October 23, 1908, Taylor went to lunch and never returned walking out on his wife and daughter without even saying goodbye. His wife and friends stated afterward that Taylor had mental lapses and that he probably had wandered off while suffering a case of amnesia.
Taylor traveled through Canada and northwestern United States until December of 1912 he arrived in California. It was here where he changed his name to William Desmond Taylor. He started his career here quickly as a silent film actor and later a successful director. For back in those days, it was crucial to hire a man as an actor and director than to hire two men to do the same thing. Over the next few years, he directed more than fifty films.
In July of 1918, Taylor enlisted and was apart of the Royal Army Service Corps towards the end of World War 1. He returned home in May of 1919 resuming his normal life. It was during this time that Taylor directed some of the best actors in the period including his rising star Mary Miles Minter.
It was a cool morning on February 2, 1922 when Taylor’s body was found in his apartment in Westlake, Los Angeles by his valet Henry Peavey. Though initially stomach haemorrhage was declared as the potential cause of death, in the later forensic examinations, it was found that he was shot dead from a small caliber pistol, which was not found at the scene.