The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

She was the original flapper, the first Varga girl and “Everybody’s Sweetheart.” Her ghastly accidental death was the first Hollywood scandal.

Gordon Thomas writes at Bright Lights Film Journal:

A gilt-edged frame of morbidity hangs over the name Olive Thomas. Barely known today, Olive Thomas was on the brink of major stardom in 1920 when she died a sudden horrific death under suspicious circumstances a month shy of her 26th birthday. As her penultimate film, The Flapper, opened in the U.S., Thomas and her husband Jack Pickford had sailed to Paris for a belated honeymoon. It was in Paris that Olive, after she and Jack returned to their hotel from a night of partying, ingested a large amount of mercury bichloride with alcohol and died four days later. The drug, highly toxic and meant only for external use, was there to treat Jack’s syphilis.

Once Pickford’s venereal disease was out of the bag, public speculation over the death ranged wide, in spite of the Paris police having ruled it accidental. Even now nobody knows what to think — was it impulsive suicide? murder? Hugely attended, Olive’s funeral featured plenty of female fans fainting dead away just like they would at the Valentino death-circus several years later.

Her ghost is said to haunt the New Amsterdam Theater on Broadway.

At Silent Ladies & Gents: an Olive Thomas gallery.

At YouTube:

The 2004 documentary Olive Thomas: Everybody’s Sweetheart.

The Flapper (1920)

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5 responses to “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

  1. I’m always happy to see Olive highlighted, feted, championed, apostrophized, loved…

    Gordon Thomas

  2. Thanks for your comment. Yours was a fascinating and illuminating piece.

  3. Next time I am passing the New Amserdam Theater I must be sure to tip my cap.

  4. For a second I thought you were calling Helen Thomas the most beautiful girl in the world.

    Almost needed CPR.

  5. As Rodney would say: Hey, baby, you musta been something before electricity.

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