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Charlotte Shelby

Charlotte Shelby (Lily Pearl Miles Reilly) (19 December 1877 - 13 March 1957) was a popular Broadway actress in her youth and was long noted as a suspect in the murder of Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor.


Stage mother to scandal

Shelby was the mother of actresses Mary Miles Minter and Margaret Shelby. She was reportedly domineering and manipulative in the management of her daughters' Broadway and film careers. Shelby was widely mentioned as a suspect in the murder of William Desmond Taylor, who was romanticly involved with her daughter Mary Miles Minter (born Juliet Reilly).[1] The Taylor murder was followed by sensationalized and often fabricated newspaper reports which fed years of scandal. Shelby owned a .38 calibre revolver along with unusual bullets which were similar to the one which had killed Taylor. When this became public years later, she reportedly threw the pistol into a Louisiana bayou. Shelby was socially acquainted with the Los Angeles county district attorney and spent many years in Europe, both to escape the efforts of his successor to question her and avoid much adverse press attention. Almost twenty years after the murder, Los Angeles district attorney Buron Fitts concluded there wasn't any evidence for an indictment of Shelby and recommended that the remaining evidence and case files be retained on a permanent basis (all of these materials subsequently disappeared). In 1999 it was reported that in 1964 actress Margaret Gibson had made a deathbed confession to Taylor's murder. Proponents claim that Gibson's confession appears to be supported by both her arrest record and other circumstantial evidence, however no independent confirmation has emerged.

For many years she and her daughters were entangled in bitter disputes over how she had handled their earnings as young actresses. Margaret died of alcohol related illness in 1939 but Mary reconciled fully with her mother. Charlotte Shelby died in Santa Monica, California in 1957. She was originally buried in a private and locked section at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale. Mary Miles Minter later had her mother's remains, along with those of her sister Margaret, cremated and scattered.



  • Love Watches (1908)


  1. ^ In 1967 film director King Vidor, while researching for a possible movie about the murder, concluded Shelby might have killed Taylor in a jealous rage over her daughter's attraction to him. However, Taylorology has strongly disputed this conclusion while listing over 100 factual errors in Vidor's research.

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