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Hoboken To Hollywood With Billy Bevan


In 1926 Thelma starred in Mack Sennett's silent comedy Hoboken To Hollywood. She plays a young bride who drives across the country with her husband and another couple. The cast includes Billy Bevan, Vernon Dent, and Leonora Summers. Hoboken To Hollywood was directed by Del Lord. You can watch the entire movie here ...




Thelma with Billy Bevan and Vernon Dent


Merry Christmas

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


Was Thelma Really Born In 1904?


Most sources say Thelma Hill was born on December 12, 1906. That is the date that is on her death certificate. After researching her family I discovered evidence that she was actually born in 1904! On the 1910 census Thelma Hillerman (her real last name) is listed as being five old. Also there are several newspaper articles from 1905 about the divorce of Thelma's parents, Gussie and Clifford Hillerman. One of the articles says that their only child was four months old in April of 1905. This seems to prove that Thelma could not have been born in 1906. She was really born on December 12, 1904 making her two years older than she claimed.


Newspaper articles about Thelma's parents from April of 1905

The 1910 census lists Thelma's age as 5

Gussie & Clifford Hillerman ~ Thelma's Parents


Thelma's father Clifford R. Hillerman was born on July 24, 1876 in Indiana. He worked in the railroad offices in Emporia, Kansas and played the clarinet in a local band. He married Gussie Knittle on September 4, 1899 in Salt Lake City, Utah. They divorced in 1905 when Thelma was just a few months old. Gussie claimed that he had left her for another woman. Clifford married Cora Lawson and had two more children. He moved to Ottawa, Canada where he worked as a laborer for a sand company. In September of 1914 he was involved in a serious accident and had his leg amputated. Clifford passed away a few months later at the age of thirty-eight. He was buried at Maplewood Memorial Lawn Cemetery in Emporia.


Thelma's mother Augusta "Gussie" Knittle was born on December 21, 1874 in New York City. She moved to Emporia, Kansas when she was a child. After divorcing Clifford in 1905 she was given full custody of Thelma. In 1909 Gussie began having a relationship with Dr. Guy Black. When his wife found out she confronted Gussie on the street and started a fight. The incident made headlines in Emporia. Soon after Gussie and Thelma moved to California to open a cafe. After Thelma died in 1938 she stayed in California. Gussie passed away on December 12, 1954 (Thelma's birthday) at the age of seventy-nine.



* I am currently searching for any photos of Gussie and Clifford Hillerman. If you have any please email me at ClassicActress@gmail.com *

Thelma Was The "Mah Jongg Bathing Girl"


Mah Johngg is a game that became popular in the US during the 1920s. After Thelma was photographed in a Mah Johngg themed bathing suit she became known as the "Mah Jongg Bathing Girl". She did several photo shoots wearing this unique bathing suit.



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, 1904 (other sources claim she was born in 1906). Her father Clifford Hillerman was a 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 passed away in 1914. Meanwhile 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.


Fifteen year old Thelma started working as an extra at Mack Sennett's studio. The petite brunette appeared in dozens of movies and was chosen to be one of Sennett's famous bathing beauties. She was very popular at the studio where everyone called her "Pee Wee". Thelma befriended actress Marie Prevost who became her mentor. After posing in a mah jongg themed bathing suit she 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. When she wasn't making movies Thelma worked as Mabel Normand's stand-in. In 1927 she had a supporting role in the Marion Davies movie The Fair Co-Ed.


 The following year she was given the lead role in a series of short films based on the comic strip Toots And Casper. Mack Sennett signed Thelma 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 fell in love with writer St. Elmo Boyce. Unfortunately he 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-three 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 ...