The short and tragic life of Olive Thomas
Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly
May 29, 2021
In search of a more exciting life, 18-year-old Olive Thomas left her husband of two years behind in Pennsylvania and moved to New York City. A year later, in 1914, she entered and won a beauty contest and was crowned “The Most Beautiful Girl in New York City.”
Actress Mary Pickford, “America’s Sweetheart” who in 1917 signed to a contract worth $1 million, described her future sister-in-law Olive as a legendary beauty with 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.”
With Olive’s career now launched, she found herself posing for several artists, often scantily clad. She became the first “Vargas Girl” and joined the famed Ziegfeld Follies. Florenz “Flo” Ziegfeld — when he wasn’t having sex with her and some of the other Ziegfeld Girls — cast Olive in the after-hours risqué Midnight Frolic show, which catered to wealthy men who spent lavishly on the beautiful, nubile women performing before them. Many attended expecting far more than watching an entertaining show. Ziegfeld, who was married at the time to Billie Burke, later the Good Witch of the North in 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz,” proclaimed Olive as one of the most beautiful women in his show. Read more.
Cold as Ice - Unsolved Boston Murders
Discussion at Lynnfield Historical Society
Read: "A New Chapter"
“Who’s the No. 1 comedian working today?” Appeals Court Judge R. Marc Kantrowitz asks more than a dozen wide-eyed, mostly young law clerks seated around a long conference-room table. A few moments of tense silence follow. This, after all, is a bit less serious of a query than a judge might typically pose to a student clerk, so it takes a few seconds to warm to the task. Read more.
About the author
R. Marc Kantrowitz is the most highly published lawyer on state law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He has written numerous books on criminal law, motor vehicle tort law, juvenile law, evidence, and mental health, as well as numerous law-related articles. He also writes a column entitled Law 'n History.
To listen to the latest podcast from R. Marc Kantrowitz, "Ponzi Scheme: The Notorious Namesake," click here.
For previous podcasts, click here.
Old Whiskey and Young Women
“Murder and mystery, society, sex and suspense were combined in this case in such a manner as to intrigue and captivate the public fancy to a degree perhaps unparalleled in recent annals.” Ohio vs. Sheppard, 165 Ohio St. 293, 294 (1956).
While this should no longer occur in a criminal trial, it can in a book. And this is the book in which it does.
Here, some of the most notorious legal cases in American history are explored. What they have in common is that they titillated, if not repulsed, the entire nation when they first occurred. What they still have in common is that, for the most part, they are today nearly totally forgotten.
From the unfair framing for murder of America’s most famous comedian, to America’s first capital case involving an older woman and her much younger lover murdering her husband, to Mad Harry Thaw, the wealthy and mad son of a steel magnate, killing America’s foremost architect over a beautiful woman, all come to life in gripping detail and drama. And meet the real Norman Bates of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, whose mother fixation and real life gruesome crimes far outmatched those of any fictional character.
This book brings to life these notorious characters and many more from the rich pages of history.
Law 'n History
R. Marc Kantrowitz writes a column entitled "Law 'n History" for Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, the Patriot Ledger, and the sister publications of both. His goal for these articles is to have the reader look at history through a different view. He likes to pick topics about past events that people know little about, himself included. Through his writing he likes to show readers that people are generally the same today as they were hundreds of years ago; the smart, wise and generous vying against the petty, vengeful and stupid. Read more.