City Confidential (1998–2006)
3 user

Old Hollywood: Silent Stars, Deadly Secrets 

A look at the 1920s murder of Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor, which officially remains unsolved. Many historians, biographers, and a few survivors are interviewed.


Scott Colthorp


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Sidney Kirkpatrick Sidney Kirkpatrick ... Himself
Jennifer Niven Jennifer Niven ... Herself
Brandon K. Hogan Brandon K. Hogan ... Himself
Gloria Stuart ... Herself
Duncan St. James Duncan St. James ... Himself
Marc Wanamaker Marc Wanamaker ... Himself
Charles Higham Charles Higham ... Himself
Betty Lasky Betty Lasky ... Herself
Johnny Grant ... Himself
Laurie Jacobson Laurie Jacobson ... Herself
William Desmond Taylor ... Himself (archive footage)
Bruce Long Bruce Long ... Himself
Mabel Normand ... Various Characters (archive footage)
Mary Miles Minter ... Herself (archive footage)
Olive Thomas ... Herself (archive footage)


A look at the 1920s murder of Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor, which officially remains unsolved. Many historians, biographers, and a few survivors are interviewed.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Documentary







Release Date:

16 January 2007 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (color and black & white archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Paul Winfield's last project. See more »


One important fact about murder victim William Desmond Taylor, which was quite a revelation when it was uncovered during the official investigation, was that back East he had walked out on his wife and children, whose existence was heretofore unknown in Hollywood, and assumed the phony name of Taylor en route to California. This is not acknowledged at all in this program. See more »

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User Reviews

Good Look at the Death of Taylor
23 October 2011 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Old Hollywood: Silent Stars, Deadly Secrets (2007)

*** (out of 4)

This episode of the "City Confidential" series takes a look at the silent era of Hollywood and the various troubles they tried to keep their stars from getting into. The documentary starts off talking about how the movies ended up moving from New York to Hollywood and we get a brief history of some of the stars and the problems they were facing. The documentary also goes into detail how certain groups in America were getting fed up with the sex, drugs and violence in the city. All of this leads to the main story, which was the death of director William Desmond Taylor. He was found murdered in his home, shot to death, and just minutes after actress Mabel Normand had left. Many people thought it might have been her but others pointed the finger at an ex-friend while the most possible person was either Mary Miles Minter or her mother. The documentary, for the most part at least, is pretty good at giving people the basic details of the story. I thought the most interesting parts of the film were the things dealing with the death of the director and why it might have possibly happened. The weakest aspect of the film is how much time it spends talking about how dark Hollywood is. I don't mind a little of this being thrown it but it just takes up too much space when the more interesting story was the death of Taylor. If you're unfamiliar with the story then there's some nice information here but it still could have been much better.

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