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Hollywood Memorial

William Dean Tanner

Tanner deserted his wife and a young daughter in New York for Hollywood and took the name William Desmond Taylor. He was one of the foremost directors of his era making more than forty films over seven years and serving as president of the Motion Picture Director’s Association. Approximately 7:30 a.m. on February 2, 1922, valet Henry Peavey arrived to discover Taylor’s body on the living room floor, dead of a gunshot wound at age 50. Several people came to the home, to tamper with, and/or remove evidence before the police were called. They didn’t want another scandal in Hollywood, as Taylor’s murder occurred while “Fatty” Arbuckle was then on trial for the murder of Virginia Rappe. The police investigation focused on some of Hollywood’s biggest stars at the time, including silent screen actress Mabel Normand because she ransacked the house to burn love letters after the murder. It seems Taylor was also having affairs with actress Mary Miles Minter and her mother at the same time and all three had visited his house on the night of his death, which has never been solved. He is entombed in Hollywood Forever Cemetery, not far from screen great Valentino.