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.
We have been backtracking the source for the Wikipedia entries (the ones that cited a source, anyway), E.J. Fleming’s “The Fixers.” From there, we went to one of Fleming’s sources, Jeff and Tom Forrester’s “The Three Stooges.” In “The Three Stooges,” we found that Sammy Wolfe, an alleged eyewitness in the “Wallace Beery beat Ted Healy to death” yarn, was an unreliable informant. Wolfe claimed to have been at the Trocadero on the night the alleged beating occurred, but was wrong about a key detail and was “guessing” about many others.
Before going further, I have to give some credit to the Forresters – they are fans, not scholars, but at least they are attempting to get to the truth, rather than sling a lot of sleaze like “The Fixers.”
But they are fans, and they have a bit of trouble with their sources.
Where do they go next in the Wallace Beery-Ted Healy saga?
Where shall we start with this?
Shemp Howard died Nov. 22, 1955, of a heart attack on his way home from seeing a night of boxing at the Olympic Auditorium. He was 60. According to his widow, Gertrude “Babe” Howard, Healy called Shemp “the night he was attacked.” Dick Hakins “said Healy told him he knew two of his assailants were Wallace Beery and Pat DiCicco but that he didn’t know the identity of the third man.”
“The Three Stooges” has no footnotes, so there’s no citation on when Gertrude “Babe” Howard discussed Shemp’s purported call from Healy. California records show that she died May 17, 1982, in Los Angeles. The same is true for the second informant, Richard Hakins, who died Feb. 22, 1990, also in Los Angeles.
We simply don’t know when these telephone calls took place, so our next step is to examine the historical record and see when and if they might have occurred.
To be continued.