William Desmond Taylor was an Irishman who graced Hollywood with his handsome looks, charming voice, and suave disposition. His peers considered him a great actor and even better director. He had ladies of all ages swooning at the mere thought of him. He was always poised, polished, and seemed fittingly well rehearsed. He seemed like the embodiment of perfection.
He was, in truth, not quite the man everyone thought him to be. The “real” name of Taylor was William Cunningham Deane-Tanner of Carlow, County Cork, Ireland. His birth certificate lists the date as 26 April 1972 and his father was Kearns Deane-Tanner, a pro-English career military man. The “Deane” part of the name comes from Kearns’ mother, Elizabeth Deane, who was the daughter of Sir Thomas Deane, an Irish architect and Mayor of Cork. Elizabeth’s brother, Thomas Deane, was also an architect. The “Tanner” surname is from Kearns’ father, Dr. William Kearns Tanner, a notable surgeon. Kearns had two brothers, Dr. Lombard John Tanner, a physician, and Dr. Charles Deane Tanner, a pro-Irish politician.
William’s mother was Jane O’Brien, born in County Tipperrary, Ireland. William had two sisters and one brother. His sister Elizabeth “Lizzie” Mary Deane-Tanner was nicknamed Daisy, and she died at the age of 25. The sister, Ellen “Nell or Nellie” Dean-Tanner, married Henry Faudel-Phillips in Chelsea, England during the fall of 1905. William’s brother, Denis Gage Deane-Tanner was born 14 Sept 1876 in Ireland.