The University of Wisconsin Press

Film & Theater / Biography / Crime / Gay & Lesbian Interest

Murder in Hollywood
Solving a Silent Screen Mystery
Charles Higham

Terrace Books
Wisconsin Studies in Film

"The most thoroughly researched and carefully considered of all the books on the legendary William Desmond Taylor murder case."
—James Curtis, author of W. C. Fields: A Biography

Charles Higham successfully presents the most plausible and convincing solution yet to the mystery of who killed William Desmond Taylor. In the process he paints a vivid portrait of Hollywood in the 1920s—from its major stars to its bisexual subculture. The result is the answer to a long-standing mystery and a fascinating study of a place, and an industry, that has always let people reinvent themselves. Murder in Hollywood is more extraordinary than any crime fiction and as compelling as any suspense film.

"Drawing on unpublished documents compiled by director King Vidor, and making witty, insightful comments as he does, Higham cuts through a thicket of suspects, motives, and cover-ups to point the finger where it had rather clearly been pointing all along, arguing that for some years a hypocritical, moralistic press did its best to point the finger in other directions. More than the solution, what impresses here are Higham's portraits of Taylor, Minter, et al, as scarred souls who believed Hollywood would be their Lourdes on the Pacific. They were mistaken." —Kirkus Reviews

"Murder in Hollywood is engrossing, as much for chronicling the murder as it is for capturing an era as rollicking as a Keystone Cops two-reeler. Higham presents a persuasive argument for his favored suspect, . . . and the evidence is compelling. But inevitably, it is the time-capsule quality of the storytelling, and a peek at 'hiding in plain sight' homosexuality, that makes the book so interesting."—Lambda Book Report

"Paints a dazzling picture of Los Angeles in a golden age of sleaze and corruption."—Times Literary Supplement

The Terrace Books logo is designed in the shape of a book with a Union chair in silhouette on the cover. The words Terrace Books, Madison, Wisconsin appear also.

Charles Higham, critically acclaimed writer, poet, critic, and playwright, is a literary and film detective. Among his many publications, The Duchess of Windsor, Kate, Bette, and Marlene have earned him high positions on bestseller lists and prestigious literary prizes. After holding the post of Regents Professor and writer in residence at the University of California, Santa Cruz, he was the Hollywood feature writer for the New York Times from 1970 to 1980.

Charles Higham's biography Howard Hughes: A Secret Life is a basis for the Martin Scorsese film The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

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Other books of related interest are:

George Stevens, a Life on Film

Marilyn Ann Moss

Walking Shadows
Orson Welles, William Randolph Hearst, and Citizen Kane

John Evangelist Walsh

cover of Higham features an old photo of a murdered director with a disturbed woman standing over his body

First paperback edition
April 2006

LC: 2004008113 HV
232 pp.   6 x 9   20 b/w photos

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Paper $19.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-20364-1
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"An amazing tale of police corruption and journalistic irresponsibility."
—Todd McCathy, Variety


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Updated August 26, 2011

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