Reputedly one of the many lovers and students of English occultist Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) during World War I, silent-film star Alicia Thompson (1898-1933) began her acting career by the side of her father, Allan Thompson (1858-1912), at the age of 4. Her mother, Edna Thompson née Anderson (1870-1900), was both a talented singer and dancer who died of complications due to pneumonia, leaving the young Alicia in the sole custody of her father.
The father-daughter team were much sought after in Vaudeville and by 1910 had become headliners at New York City’s famous Palace Theater run by Benjamin Franklin Keith (1846–1914). The two took Broadway by storm until 1912 when, amid allegations of pedophilia, the elder Thompson took his own life with a lethal overdose of diamorphine.
It was shortly after her father’s suicide that the beauty, poise and raw talent of the then 14 year-old caught the eye of Florenz Edward Ziegfeld (1867-1932), who immediately showcased Thompson in that year’s Ziegfeld Follies.
It was at this time that the young singer, dancer and actress became involved in the occult. Although her name had been linked to several prominent occultists at the time including Crowley, these reports have never been substantiated. She has also been said to have been an initiate of the occult secret society the Circle of the Scarlet Moon. One apocryphal story that circulated widely after Thompson’s death in 1933 among the Hollywood elite of the time was that she had sold her soul for riches and power.
In 1918, Samuel Goldwyn (born Szmuel Gelbfisz, 1879–1974), chairman of Paramount Pictures at the time, recognized Thompson’s potential in the nascent movie industry and offered her a five-year contract at of $500 a week. Her first film, Moonchild (1919), was such a critical and commercial success that a year later the twenty-two year old renegotiated her contract with Paramount, who agreed to pay Thompson an unheard-of salary of $5,000 a week.
By 1925, she had starred in ten remarkably successful films and her name had been linked romantically to several of the silent-film eras greatest males stars as well as some of the most powerful men in Tinseltown, including Goldwyn himself. In 1926, a maid in the employ of Thompson, Jane Clinton (1902-1926), reported to the Los Angeles Globe that the actress was a practicing satanist and headed a devil worshiping cult. Representatives of the actress denied these accusations, which were soon forgotten when Clinton jumped to her death from the final D in Hollywoodland (now only Hollywood) sign atop Mount Lee. However, whispers of satanic rituals continued to surround the actress and her associates, many of whom were later linked to the devil-worshiping cult called DEMON.
In 1929, the actress married reclusive Venezuelan oil magnate Ricardo Vargas (1890-1982). After their wedding, the couple shuttled between their homes in Beverly Hills, New York, Buenos Aires, London, Milan, Havana, Caracas and Cairo. Although they were known to associate with some of the most notable and infamous people of the time, they shunned the limelight. The couple would hold exclusive, invitation-only events about which no one would ever disclose any information. In 1930, reports began trickling in to authorities in Cuba and Venezuela of a cult calling itself the Brujeria that was practicing human sacrifice. One eyewitness alleged to have seen Thompson and Vargas officiating in a ceremony in which a month-old baby was sacrificed. Authorities in both countries dropped the case after witnesses and evidence began disappearing.
Thompson was admitted to a private sanitarium in Caracas in 1932 suffering from hysterical paranoia and died in 1933 from a massive aneurysm. Vargas, who never remarried, rarely traveled outside South America after Thompson’s death.