Monday, May 23, 2011

Todd Woodhouse, Stuntman and Studio Electrician

In 1939, my Great Grandma Irene took my Uncle Tom on a trip to California. While they were there, they spent time with Gram Irene's friends Todd and Grace Woodhouse. Mom always told me that Todd was a stuntman for the Twentieth Century Fox Studios. Mom liked the first name "Todd" so well that she named my brother Todd, after Gram's friend on the West Coast. I was curious about Todd Woodhouse, so I decided to try to find out what I could about him. Several years ago, I sent a message to the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The librarians there said that Todd Woodhouse was a stuntman, as well as a studio electrician, but in the films he appeared, he was mostly uncredited.

Putting the name of Todd Woodhouse into the California Death Index yielded this result:

This made a lot of sense, because Todd Woodhouse passed away in Los Angeles, California on June 16, 1958, and my brother Todd was born in the fall of 1958. Mom would have been expecting a baby at the time she heard of the death of Mr. Woodhouse. Noting that Todd Woodhouse's death record indicated that he had been born in Utah in 1902, I tried to find a Woodhouse born in Utah, but residing in California, where he lived in the 1930's. The 1920 U.S. Census had a Woodhouse family in Los Angeles, California. The parents were Azra and Olive Woodhouse, and four of their five children had been born in Utah! Well there was no Todd Woodhouse listed in the names of the children of the Woodhouse family. I saw that there was a Charles Woodhouse, who was aged 17 in 1920, and that means that he could have been born in 1902, depending on the exact month in which he was born. The occupation of Charles Woodhouse was listed as :

horse rider for the motion picture industry

So, of course, I believe that Charles Woodhouse changed his name to Todd Woodhouse, as a catchier stage name than the name he was given at his birth.

When Gram Irene went on her trip to California, she had this address for Mrs. Todd Woodhouse:

After searching for 4331 Hollywood Avenue on Google Maps, I found that the address was only one block away from Sunset Boulevard!

(Image courtesy Google Maps.)

I have no idea how Great Gram Irene became friends with Grace and Todd Woodhouse of Hollywood, California...but they made a lasting impression on her, and my brother Todd is a living memorial to that lovely first name, even though Mr. Woodhouse was born as Charles Woodhouse. My brother Todd is funny, intelligent, kind, and generous, and appeared in several plays and musicals throughout his school years. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of a local musical theater group in Ohio as well. Those talented young men named Todd have made on impression on me and my ancestors!

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