Wikipedia: Murder and Myth – Part 5

Wikipedia -- Wallace Beery

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.

Today, we are going to continue examining the book’s account.

Fixers, Page 176

Author E.J. Fleming uses lots of ellipses in quoting from this Daily News article. But wouldn’t it be interesting to see what other Los Angeles newspapers said?

How about the Los Angeles Examiner’s account, which quotes Albert Broccoli? (From the Herald-Journal, Dec. 23, 1937.)


Not only did Healy punch Broccoli in the nose and the mouth, according to this account, Broccoli shoved him away because he didn’t want to hurt him. Later on, they shook hands. A somewhat similar but truncated version quoting Broccoli — that  omits the handshake — appears in “The Three Stooges” by Jeff and Tom Forrester. “Three Stooges” erroneously cites the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, which didn’t come into existence until the merger of the Los Angeles Examiner and evening Herald-Express in 1962.

To be continued.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1937, Film, History, Hollywood and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Wikipedia: Murder and Myth – Part 5

  1. aryedirect says:

    A ham-fisted sandwich of a story. Hold the Broccoli.


  2. Pingback: Playground to the Stars » What Really Happened the Night Ted Healy Was Beaten at Cafe Trocadero?

  3. Carl Belken says:

    Perhaps we should start calling wikipedia Gossipedia instead because when it comes to celebrities they rely on gossip more than fact.


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