Research Outline

Walter Thornton Biography


To provide insights into the life of Walter Thornton, including details such as Where he was born, Where he went to college, What he did on Wall Street, Where he worked? And his career in the 1930s and beyond? and after?

Early Findings

Early Life

  • Walter Thornton was born in Pike County's Beaver, Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1903 to Walker Thornton (father) and Loella Saunders (mother). His father died when he was a year old. He later lost his mother as well when he was nine.
  • Orphaned at an early age, young Thornton joined the US Army at age 14 years, which was lower than the minimum age to be enlisted. He was later discovered before being deployed and ended up in Cleveland.


Wall Street Significance

  • Thornton's picture of him standing beside a "Chrysler Imperial '75' Roadster" with a sign that read "$100 will buy this car must have cash lost all on the stock market," became an iconic image depicting the desperation of investors during the devastating Stock Market Crash of 1929.
  • No available data describes Thornton as a Wall Street investor. However, his work and some article respondents describe him as a high-magnitude promoter, which might be the context behind the famous Wall Street picture.

What He Did in the 1930s and Beyond

  • Thornton remained as the CEO of his modeling agency until the 1950s when he retired. During this period, his company grew to become one of the biggest modeling agencies in the US.
  • His company produced several success stories, including Hollywood stars "Susan Hayward, Arlene Dahl, Peggy Ann Garner, and Lauren Bacall."

Later Life

  • After retirement, Thornton lived in Jalisco, Mexico, and died on a Monday "at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Long Beach, California," in 1990. He was 88 years old.
  • He was survived by his wife, four daughters, two sons, and two grandchildren.