In case you just tuned in, I am using the Wikipedia entry on Wallace Beery – alleging that he was involved in the death of Ted Healy – as a way to explore Wikipedia’s fundamental problems with accuracy and delve into Hollywood myths. This is a slow, paragraph by paragraph analysis and, yes, it’s tedious. I hope the research drudges in the audience will find it interesting.
In Part 1, we found that Wikipedia had eight entries linking Beery to Healy’s death. Two of them were nearly identical and the rest contradicted one another – sometimes drastically. So much for Wikipedia being as accurate and reliable as an encyclopedia.
In Part 2, we began looking at the book that was cited in all the entries that listed a source: E.J. Fleming’s “The Fixers,” a book that failed to get a review from a single reputable news outlet. We also found that a main informant, Col. Barney Oldfield, most likely had no firsthand knowledge of the incident
In Part 3, we dissected a paragraph of “The Fixers” and found numerous problems.
In Part 4, we looked at a portion of another paragraph in “The Fixers” and found problems with the chronology in its version of Ted Healy’s death.
In Part 5, we contrasted the 2004 account in “The Fixers” with Albert Broccoli’s version of the incident, published in 1937, citing the Los Angeles Examiner. This is an account ignored by “The Fixers” – but not Jeff and Tom Forresters’ 2002 “The Three Stooges” – in which Ted Healy struck Broccoli, who didn’t fight back.
In Part 6, we examined this statement: “even more strange, the article indicated Healy died of ‘natural causes,’ the result of his alcoholism,” finding that there was nothing strange at all. The Times reported exactly the same thing.
In Part 7, we found that in contrast to the claim that “severe head injuries seen by his wife were ignored in the autopsy,” Healy’s wife, Betty, wasn’t immediately told of Healy’s death, never saw his body and did not even attend his funeral because she was in the hospital after giving birth to their son.
Today we will look at this paragraph:
How much do you want to bet this didn’t happen?
First of all, the chronology in “The Fixers” is so mangled that it’s impossible to tell exactly when “the next day” is supposed to be.
But Beery didn’t leave “the next day.” Or even the next week.
He couldn’t. He was filming “Madelon” (released as “Port of Seven Seas,”) as reported in The Times, Dec. 19, 1937.
He was also on a live radio show, Dec. 30, 1937:
He was also scheduled to see a play on Jan. 4, 1938:
Mrs. Beery (remember, “Beery and his entire family” left for New York) attends a luncheon, The Times, Jan. 7, 1938
Jan. 10, 1938, Mrs Beery is still in Los Angeles:
Jan. 11, 1938, The Times:
And here we find it. Finally:
Reported in The Times, Jan. 24, 1938, more a month after Healy’s death. Note that the family plans to leave “about March 1.”
Wallace Beery didn’t leave “the next day” or the next week or even the next month.
This is more than sloppy research. “The Fixers” is the worst sort of sleaze-peddling. The book is nothing but malicious lies and distortions that are easily disproved – if anyone takes the time to do so.
To be continued next week.