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Mike Todd's Geni Profile

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Avrom Hirsch Goldbogen (Todd)

Also Known As: "Mike", "Toat"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Hennipen, MN
Death: Died in Grants, Cibola County, New Mexico
Cause of death: airplane crash
Place of Burial: Waldheim Jewish Cemetery, Forest Park, Cook, IL
Immediate Family:

Son of Chaim Goldbogen and <private> Goldbogen (Hellerman)
Husband of Dame Elizabeth Taylor
Ex-husband of Bertha Todd and Joan Blondell
Father of Mike Todd Jr. and <private> Tivey (Todd)

Managed by: David William STEIN
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Mike Todd

Michael Todd was an American theatre and film producer, best known for his 1956 production of Around the World in Eighty Days, which won an Academy Award for Best Picture. He is also well-known as the third of Elizabeth Taylor's husbands.

LIFE

Todd was born Avrom Hirsch Goldbogen in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Chaim Goldbogen (an Orthodox rabbi) and Sophia Hellerman, both Polish Jewish immigrants. He was one of nine children in a poor family, and his siblings nicknamed him "Toat" to mimic his difficulty pronouncing the word "coat." It was from this that his name was derived.

His family moved to Chicago. Todd was expelled in the sixth grade for running a game of craps inside the school. In high school, he produced the school play, The Mikado, which was considered a hit. He eventually dropped out of high school and worked a variety of jobs, including as a shoe salesman and store window decorator.

At the age of 20, Todd married Bertha Freeman on Valentine's Day 1927. In 1929, she bore him a son, Mike Todd, Jr.. Freeman died in 1946, and Todd remarried, to actress Joan Blondell July 5, 1947. They were divorced June 8, 1950 after she alleged that he abused and extorted her. He married actress Elizabeth Taylor, with whom he had a tempestuous relationship. The couple exchanged vows on February 2, 1957. The couple had a daughter, Elizabeth Frances (Liza) Todd, who was born 7 August of that year.

On 22 March 1958, Todd's private plane, Lucky Liz, crashed near Grants, New Mexico. The plane, a twin-engine Lockheed Lodestar, suffered an engine failure while being flown grossly overloaded in icing conditions at an altitude which was at the limit for single-engine flight. The plane went out of control and crashed, killing all four on board. Apart from Todd, these were screenwriter and author Art Cohn, who was writing Todd's biography The Nine Lives of Mike Todd; pilot Bill Verner; and co-pilot Tom Barclay. Todd is buried in Chicago at Beth Aaron Cemetery in plot 66. In his autobiography, Eddie Fisher, who considered himself to be Todd's best friend, stated that no fragments of Todd had been found, and that his coffin contained only his ring.

The Los Angeles Times reported in 1977 that Fisher's story was false—remains of Todd were indeed found and buried. His remains were desecrated by robbers, who broke into his coffin looking for the ring. The bag containing Todd's remains was found under a tree near his plot.

WORK

Todd began his career in the construction business, where he made, and subsequently lost, a fortune. He later served as a contractor to Hollywood studios, and during the 1933-1934 Century of Progress Exposition he produced the attraction called "the Flame Dance." (In this spectacular number, gas jets were designed to burn part of a dancer's costume off, leaving her naked in appearance.) Later, he formed a company and toured with a production of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Mikado, his high school favorite. When this tour closed, he revamped the show as the jazzier The Hot Mikado, which ran at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Todd went on to produce 30 Broadway shows during his career.

Todd's business career was volatile, and failed ventures left him bankrupt many times.

In 1945, Todd floated the idea of holding the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in newly-liberated Berlin. Although baseball's new commissioner, Happy Chandler was reportedly "intrigued" by the idea, it was ultimately dismissed as impractical. The game was finally cancelled due to wartime travel restrictions.

In 1952, Todd produced an extravagant production of the Johann Strauss II operetta, A Night In Venice, complete with floating gondolas at the newly constructed Jones Beach Theatre in Long Island, New York. It ran for two seasons.

In 1950, Mike Todd formed The Cinerama Company with the broadcaster Lowell Thomas (who founded Capital Cities Communications) and the inventor Fred Waller. The company was created to exploit Cinerama, a film process created by Waller that used three film projectors to create a giant composite image on a curved screen. The first Cinerama feature, This is Cinerama, was released in September 1952.

Soon after its release, Todd left the Cinerama Company to develop a new widescreen process which would eliminate some of Cinerama's flaws. The result was the Todd-AO process, designed by the American Optical Company. The process was first used commercially for the successful 1955 film adaptation of Oklahoma!. Todd later produced the film for which he is best remembered, Michael Todd's Around the World in 80 Days, which debuted in cinemas on October 17, 1956. Costing only $6 million to produce, the movie earned $16 million at the box office. In 1957, Around the World in 80 Days won the Best Picture Academy Award.

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Mike Todd's Timeline

1907
June 22, 1907
Minneapolis, Hennipen, MN
1927
1927
Age 19
1929
October 8, 1929
Age 22
Los Angeles, CA, USA
1946
1946
Age 38
1947
1947
Age 39
1950
1950
Age 42
1957
February 2, 1957
Age 49
1958
March 23, 1958
Age 50
Grants, Cibola County, New Mexico
????
Forest Park, Cook, IL