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Sweeney Todd is a homicidal serial killer who serves as the main antagonist of the 1846-47 story The String of Pearls written by unknown authors.
While Todd has become part of urban legend, especially in London, and often believed to have been a real person, he is in fact a fictional character, though realistically there are indeed real life serial killers who are believed to have been the inspiration for Todd.
Sweeney Todd was a London barber who killed his customers by throwing them down a trapdoor and breaking their necks. If they survived, he would polish them off' by slitting their throats with a razor. He and his partner-in-crime Mrs. Lovett made them into meat pies and sold them for money.
However, things changed when a young girl named Johanna Oakley had her suspicions on Todd since a string of pearls was given by a sailor named Thornhill (who was last seen in Todd's shop).
Following the arrest of a young boy named Tobias Ragg (who accused Todd of murder). Johanna entered into Todd's shop posing as a boy and learned of Todd's activities. She is even horrified to learn that her missing lover Mark Ingestrie was taken prisoner by Todd and forced to cook the corpses. Johanna helps Mark escape, and they expose Todd's actions to the public while Todd poisons Mrs. Lovett.
Todd is then subsequently hanged for his crimes while Johanna marries Mark.
- The original version of the character (prior to Stephen Sondheim's musical) was most famously portrayed by Tod Slaughter in a series of films in the 1930s. He has also been portrayed by Ben Kingsley.
- This version of Sweeney Todd is regarded as Pure Evil whereas the other versions of Sweeney Todd are given more sympathetic qualities in later retellings of the story.
The String of Pearls