St. Elmo Boyce ~ Thelma's Fiance

In 1927 Thelma began dating writer St. Elmo Boyce. He was born William Boyce on August 16, 1899 in Texas. St. Elmo worked as a theater manager in El Paso before moving to Hollywood. He was hired by Mack Sennett to be a scenario writer and cameraman. St. Elmo directed several of Thelma's movies including Casper's Week End. He and Thelma were engaged to be married but their relationship had problems. St. Elmo was an alcoholic and he was arrested several times for drunk driving. Thelma also developed a serious drinking problem. Tragically on September 30, 1930 St. Elmo committed suicide by swallowing poison. He was only thirty-one years old. Thelma was devastated by his death. St. Elmo is buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California.

* Thelma Hill's Story *

Thelma Hill was born Thelma Floy Hillerman in Emporia, Kansas on December 12, 1906 (her actual birth date might be 1903). Her father Clifford Hillerman was a musician and railroad worker and her mother Gussie was a housewife. When she was an infant her parents divorced and her mother was given full custody. Sadly her father Clifford, passed away in 1914. Soon after Thelma and her mother moved to California and opened a cafe. They lived at 1723 Sunset Boulevard which was just a few blocks from the Mack Sennett studios. Thelma dreamed of becoming an actress and hung around by the studio gates trying to getting noticed. While working in her mother's cafe she met actor Fatty Arbuckle who helped her get a screen test.

 Sixteen year old Thelma became one of Mack Sennett's famous bathing beauties. She was just five feet tall and weighed only 100 pounds. Mack Sennett said she was "the ideal bathing girl" of her time. Thelma was very popular at the Sennett studios where everyone called her "Pee Wee". She appeared as an extra in dozens of movies and worked as Mabel Normand's stand-in. Thelma befriended actress Marie Prevost who became her mentor. After she posed in a mah jongg themed bathing suit Thelma was nicknamed the "Mah Jongg Bathing Girl". She starred alongside Ben Turpin a several comedy shorts including The Prodigal Bridegroom and The Pride Of Pikeville. In 1927 she landed a supporting role in the Marion Davies movie The Fair Co-Ed.

 The following year Thelma was chosen to play the lead in a series of short films based on the comic strip Toots And Casper. Mack Sennett signed her to a new long term contract in 1929. She seemed destined for stardom but her career stalled with the talkies. Thelma appeared in a few more short films and had a small role in Frank Capra's The Miracle Woman. She remained close to her mother Gussie who lived with her in Los Angeles. Thelma fell in love with writer and director St. Elmo Boyce. Unfortunately Boyce was an alcoholic and during their romance Thelma started drinking. The couple planned to get married but tragically on September 30, 1930 St. Elmo Boyce committed suicide. Thelma was devastated and began to drink even more. In 1934 she married Johnny Sinclair, an actor and stunt double for W.C. Fields.

They moved into a modest house at 8229 Blackburn Avenue in Los Angeles. Thelma stopped making movies and tried to start a new life as a housewife. Unfortunately she and her husband were both alcoholics. In early 1938 Thelma had a nervous breakdown and entered the Merrill sanitarium in Santa Monica. She was suffering from chronic alcoholism and a severe vitamin deficiency. Sadly Thelma died from a cerebral hemorrhage on May 11, 1938. She was only thirty-one years old. Her body was cremated but her were ashes were never buried. Today Thelma's remains are being kept in a storage closet at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Thelma Hill was a beautiful woman and a talented actress but sadly she could not overcome her personal demons.

Qutoes From Thelma Hill

Here are rare quotes from Thelma ...

 "I am all enthused over what the next two years may bring me. I was scared to death the first time I faced a microphone but I have made three talkies now and feel just as home as I did when we only had cameras to face."

"Sometimes I swim with boys and sometimes with girls. I would feel that I were offering an insult to nice, clean minded boys of my acquaintance if I rushed to cover my legs every time they approached."

"It is harder to make sound comedies than serious pictures in sound because the laughter and noise often puts the mechanism out of commission."

"I am taking dance lessons now too and if I ever get sufficient courage I am going to taking singing lessons as I think both will be necessary with sound films now in vogue."

Magazine & Newspaper Clippings

Thelma became a popular actress during the 1920s. Here are some vintage magazine and newspaper clipping about her ...

Merry Christmas

Celebrate the Holidays with Thelma, Elsie Tarron, and Harry Langdon ...

The Fair Co-Ed with Marion Davies

In 1927 Thelma had a supporting role in the silent comedy The Fair Co-Ed. She plays a college freshman named Rose. The movie starred Marion Davies, Johnny Mack Davis, and Jane winton. You can watch The Fair Co-Ed here ...

Thelma and Marion Davies

Thelma's Bathing Beauty Pin-Ups

Thelma became one of Hollywood's most popular bathing beauties. In 1924 Mack Sennett declared she was the "ideal bathing girl of the times". She was just five feet tall with measurement of 34-24-35. Here is a collection of her pin-up photos ...

 With Elsie Tarron