In 1922, silent film screen actress and comedian Mabel Normand (1892-1930) lived in Altadena, residing in a house on Foothill Blvd (now Altadena Drive).
Normand began her film career making a name for herself in slapstick comedy. She helped Mack Sennett launch Keystone Studios where they produced Keystone Cop comedies. Normand also wrote and directed many of Charlie Chaplin’s earliest shorts, often acting in them as well. In 1916, she opened her own production company and studio.
Troubled by drug use, depression, and deteriorating health from pulmonary tuberculosis, the actress was a frequent victim of scandalous rumor. In 1922 the violent murder of her close friend and likely lover director William Desmond Taylor brought on a despondency from which she never recovered. To this day Taylor’s murder remains an official cold case.
Seeking recuperation and rest, Normand moved to Altadena in 1922. Noted for its healthful climate, Altadena had a fair share of sanitariums including private homes converted to long-term care for people with chronic disease.
The silent movie actress eventually fell into obscurity and today her name and contributions are rarely mentioned in film history biographies. Normand died in Monrovia, California from pulmonary tuberculosis in 1930.
Altadena Community Center, 730 E. Altaadena Drive, Altadena, CA 91001
The Altadena Historical Society was founded in 1935 and is a tax-exempt non-profit whose mission is to gather, preserve and present information about the people, places and events that have shaped the community.