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.
Today, we will look at a portion of another paragraph in “The Fixers.” (Part of a paragraph? Yes, I said this would be slow and tedious).
“Words were exchanged” in the bar of the Trocadero.
Beery hits Healy in the head “in front of the other patrons.”
Healy challenges Beery to “step outside” “where he said he’d beat each man “one at a time.”
Broccoli sneaks outside and jumps Healy, holding him while the other two men (Beery and DiCicco, presumably) beat him.
They leave him unconscious in the parking lot “sprawled in a pool of blood.”
They return to the bar, “loudly toasting their victory.”
Healy is “allegedly” taken to his home in a cab.
He dies the next morning “of very apparent head injuries.” If this occurred on Dec. 21, 1937, as “The Fixers” says, Healy would have then died on the morning of Dec. 22, 1937.
But on the morning of Dec. 22, 1937, Healy’s death was already front-page news in the Los Angeles Times.
In fact, according to The Times, on the night of Dec. 21, 1937, when “The Fixers” says the beating occurred, Healy’s body was already stone cold in the Los Angeles County morgue.
Now as a general rule, when a researcher finds these kinds of problems, there’s more to be found. And indeed there are.
To be continued next week.