Looking for Mabel Normand

Madcap Mabel Normand







Marilyn Slater

June 23, 2010


In the summer after William Desmond Taylor’s murder, Mary Miles Minter and Patricia Palmer were working on a movie in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Just outside Victor, Idaho on August 6, 1922 there was a train accident; MMM was thrown around in her private railroad car severally cutting her left arm.  Tom Morre was also injured; he received a head wound and other bruises, he was Mabel Normand’s friend and co-star.  The railroad car was jarred by a switch engine. Patricia Palmer’s back was hurt and she may have also received internal injuries and Viola Daniels had a number of bruises.  There were over 25 members of the production company on broad waiting to return to Los Angeles after working for 6-weeks in and around Jackson Hole.


This story was found in the New York Times, August 8, 1922; it appears to undermine the belief that MMM stopped working after WDT death.  The movie they were making was “The Cowboy and the Lady” (Paramount 1922); it was directed by Charles Maigne. The original story was written by Julien Josephson, although the NY Times doesn’t include the cast of the movie other than those injured, a few more cast members were Robert Schable, Guy Oliver, Tom London and Bobby Mack.


The reason this was particular interesting to me is as you remember it was Patricia Palmer (Margaret Gibson, Gibby) who was reported to have confessed to murdering William Desmond Taylor, on her deathbed in 1964 and here she is working with MMM, less than 5 months after WDT’s death.  I wonder what they talked about on that long train ride.